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13 Ways to Make Money with 3D Printing in 2023 (Fast & Most Profitable)

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A lot of people see 3D printing as a hobby. Some people create new gadgets or objects to solve a specific problem that they have.

But the savvy entrepreneur within you may start to connect the dot. Creating products to solve a problem is exactly how you start a business.

And just like any other business, you too can make money from 3D printing.

Did you know that in 2021 alone, 2.2 million 3D printers were shipped? It tells us that there is a large and relatively new market here.

If you are quick enough, you can cut yourself a nice share and make a name for yourself in the 3D printing world. All it takes is a bit of time, dedication, and know-how.

And I will give you the third right here.

There are countless ways to make money with 3D printing. You can either sell your prints online or offer various services such as 3D printing courses, making YouTube videos, writing books, selling 3D models, dropshipping, and the list goes on.

Can You Really Make Money with 3D Printing?

Yes, but it is not as easy as some people might assume.

But I believe that all good things take effort to achieve. If you are willing to invest a bit of time and effort, you can make money with 3D printing.

Do I need a 3D Printer to Start Making Money?

No, you do not need to have a 3D printer for most of these business ventures. I will cover all of them in this post today.

14 Fastest Ways to Make Money with 3D Printing

So, how exactly can you make money with 3D printing?

We will cover all of them in this section. While making and selling your 3D prints is a no-brainer, you can offer all sorts of services in this industry.

Let’s start with the creative 3D printing business ideas you can start right now.

1. Start YouTube Channel About 3D Printing

Let’s start with the most popular form of content creation: YouTube.

You can make videos on all sorts of topics surrounding 3D printing. You can check the channel “3D Printing Nerd” for some ideas. As you can see, the channel has videos covering all things 3D printing ranging from consumer-level to crazy industrial-level manufacturing.

Here are some topics you can focus on:

  • 3D printer reviews
  • 3D printing software reviews
  • Printing projects
  • Filament reviews
  • And much more!

When it comes to monetization, you have a few options here. The first and perhaps the easiest one is through YouTube ads revenue. You need to join YouTube Partner Program which has the following requirements:

  • Live in a region or country where the YouTube Partner Program is available
  • Have an AdSense account
  • Have over 1,000 subscribers
  • Have over 4,000 watch hours in the last 12 months
  • Have no strikes on your channel
  • Follow YouTube’s monetization policies

The second option is through sponsorship offers, where you dedicate a segment of your video to talk about your sponsor.

It may or may not be relevant to your content, but you also do not have to worry about YouTube Partnership Program’s requirements.

Another option would be to sell merchandise, and memberships, and use your channel as a platform to advertise other services.

What Do You Need to Start

You only need a few things to start: A camera and video recording software (OBS is a great option, and it’s free!), a computer, a 3D printer, and experience with 3D printing.

Other than that, here are a few tips on how to start a successful YouTube channel:

Account

Creating an account on YouTube is completely free, and you should spend a bit of time putting together a decent channel.

Pick a good name, upload art for your channel icon and background, and write a bit about yourself in the “About” section.

Content

Have a clear plan about what you want to talk about in your views.

Prepare a script if you have to. When it comes to the topic, think of something that your audience would want to know about. Plan your content in advance.

SEO

Your video titles and descriptions also work with SEO, so use keywords in your titles and descriptions to help the algorithm find your videos.

If you do not know what keywords to use, think of what people would type to look up your videos.

Advertise

Also consider linking your YouTube channel to other social media accounts.

You can add links to video descriptions as well as on the “About” page.

Analytics

YouTube provides insights into your video’s performance. Check often to see what kind of videos work for you and adjust your content strategy accordingly.

Initial Investment and Income Potential

The cost of a computer aside, you only need to spend money on a 3D printer and its filaments.

An entry-level printer costs anywhere from $300 to $500.

Creating a YouTube channel is completely free. You will be spending some time working on the channel, which will be the biggest investment.

It usually takes about a year to establish yourself as an expert figure in the field, unless you manage to go viral.

As for how much money you can make here, it depends.

The average YouTube channel gets about $18 per 1,000 ad views, but this varies wildly depending on your location as well.

According to Zip Recruiter, the average income for a YouTube channel in the U.S. is $60,000 a year or roughly $5,000 a month.

Although there are many ways to make money from YouTube, the good news is that all of them follow roughly the same path. That is, you need to make a name for yourself in the 3D printing industry as a subject-matter expert.

From there, you have a lot of options on how to monetize your content.

2. Open an E-Commerce Shop

This is something that you are probably most familiar with.

Here, you sell printers, parts, and materials.

The business model is very similar to other brick-and-mortar businesses, except you do it online.

That means, you source the merchandise, keep inventory, and deliver the products to your customers. To get there, you need a storefront first.

Fortunately, there are countless online markets where you can set up shop, such as Shopify.

3DJAKE - 3D printing E-commerce shop screenshot.
E-commerce shop for 3D printers 3DJAKE, source: 3djake.com

Initial Investment and Income Potential

It really depends on what items you want to sell and how many of them you want to have in stock, but $1,000 is a good starting point.

According to Zip Recruiter, the average income for an e-commerce business in the U.S. is around $68,000 per year. It works out to be around $33 an hour.

What Do You Need to Start

An e-commerce store is convenient in the sense that you do not have to own a physical store to do your business.

However, you need a digital storefront and a solid strategy to be successful. Most online stores generally follow this process:

Find a product

Think about what you want to sell.

Although this is usually the most challenging part of your strategy, you already narrowed your scope to 3D printing only. So, things such as filament, parts, and 3D printers come to mind here.

Pick one or two that you want to focus on.

Evaluate the idea

While you can sell almost anything nowadays, there are a few “safe” options that you can go for.

Start with products that are affordable, have branding potential, and are easy to package and ship.

Obtain the product

After that, figure out how to source the products.

The easiest option here would be to “flip” products. That means, you buy those products from a supplier and sell them at a higher price.

Sell your products

Then, it is time to set up an online storefront and start selling.

Shopify and Amazon come to mind here.

You may need to pick a name and create a logo for your business to establish brand authority. If you have a successful blog website, you can use that.

Market your products

From here on out, it is all about managing stocks and relationships with customers, as well as expanding your reach.

Make full use of your social media pages and your blog site to generate revenue.

3. Dropshipping

It is also possible to have a dropshipping business in the 3D printing industry. You can sell generic products such as 3D printers and filaments.

The idea behind dropshipping is very simple.

You simply outsource the manufacturing, inventory management, and shipment to your supplier.

Your job is to create a storefront to attract sales. So, you only work on the marketing side of the business. When orders come in, you just forward them to your manufacturer, and they will handle the rest.

This is a great way to make money because there is very little investment on your end. If you have a knack for marketing and can find a manufacturer that makes decent quality products, dropshipping is a great source of passive income.

Initial Investment and Income Potential

You can start your dropshipping business with as little as $100 to $500 and most of that money is going to platform fees and marketing only.

If you dig really deep, you can probably kickstart your business for less than $100.

The major reason why you can start with so little is that you do not have to handle the products yourself. If you have a larger capital, you can invest more into marketing to generate even more sales.

As for income potential, you can potentially have up to $100,000 per year on average, assuming that you make anywhere from 20% to 30% profit from each sale.

If you keep your own stock inventory, you would earn 50% less. So evidently, dropshipping is still very lucrative.

What Do You Need to Start

If you are brand new to the space, here are the basic steps to start your dropshipping business.

Commit

Though lucrative, dropshipping requires a lot of time and effort.

Have realistic expectations. Chances are that you will make nowhere near the $100,000 mark in the first couple of years.

You need to invest heavily to get it going. Start by working on the marketing side of the business to generate momentum.

It is a lot of work at the start, but when it gets going, it takes a lot less time to maintain.

Pick a product

You need to pick the right product as always.

The product must be high in demand and offer you good ROI as your earnings strongly depends on these factors.

If a product sells well, you start working on the brand.

The best platforms to look for potential products are Aliexpress, Alibaba, Worldwide Brands or SaleHoo.

Thousands of potential dropshipping products on AliExpress, source: aliexpress.com
Research

Look at what your competitors are doing and try to understand how they work.

They can teach you a thing or two about running a successful dropshipping business.

Pick a few major dropshipping companies such as eBay, Walmart, Amazon, and others.

Use social media, Google, and other tools to find out as much as you can about how they run their business.

Look for prices, marketing methods, product descriptions, etc. Keep all information organized in a spreadsheet.

Pick a supplier

This is an important step in starting your business, so choose wisely.

Many platforms such as Shopify make it very easy to connect to DSers, a marketplace for drop-shipping supplies that connect to AliExpress.

Using DSers product page, you can find out more about the supplier.

Look for quality products from DSers that offer ePacket shipping if your supplier is in China.

ePacket makes shipping fast and affordable. Delivery only takes about 2 weeks and costs a few dollars.

Build your e-commerce store

In the next step, you want to work on your storefront on various platforms such as Sellfy or Shopify.

Here you’ll build your online store. This is where you sell products, process payments, and send traffic.

Many people like Shopify because it has a whole suite of tools to help you start your dropshipping business, even if you have no experience in designing or coding.

Pick a business structure

If you are serious about this, you should set up a legitimate business entity.

It really depends on the local law, but business entities usually fall under 3 categories:

Sole proprietorship: Easiest to implement, but has no personal liability protection.

Limited liability company (LLC): Better protection for your personal assets because it makes your business a separate entity. It is not foolproof, but you get more protection. This is usually the best option for a lot of people.

C corporations: Major corporations set themselves up as C corporations. They offer the most protection against liabilities, but they are expensive to create.

Market your store

There are many approaches here. You should have a few ideas already after looking at your competitors.

Analyze your business

From here on out, your job is to monitor your business. Look at what are your best-performing products, whether your ads are effective, who are your best customers, what products sell well, etc.

4. Offer Online Courses

This route requires considerably more investment from your end.

But, after the initial hurdles, it is another great source of passive income. Here, you need to plan the course, film it, edit it, compile it, and market it.

It will take a while to set all of that up. But after that, you can sell the course for years with minimal maintenance work on it.

There are many platforms that can host online courses, such as:

  • Teachable
  • Domestika
  • Udemy
  • Skillshare
Introduction to 3D printing - course screenshot.
Over 16’000 students went through the “Introduction to 3D Printing” course by Lauren Slowik since publishing. Source: skillshare.com

Initial Investment and Income Potential

The biggest investment you need to make here is your time.

That is about it. In terms of income potential, you can make anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 a year.

Your revenue is going to depend on how much traffic you can bring to your courses, how many people sign up for them, and their prices.

What Do You Need to Start

Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to do to set up an online course:

Pick the right subject

There are many topics to choose from, but stick to the ones that you are already very familiar with or are willing to learn thoroughly.

From beginners “3D printing guides” to slicers, or 3D modeling, I believe there are many topics people would be interested to learn about.

Test the idea

Considering that online courses require a fair bit of effort to set up, you want to make sure that it is going to fly.

Create a landing page for your course, use call-to-action, offer the first couple of chapters for free, and collect data and feedback.

Think of what kind of results you are looking for ahead of time.

Research the topic

A successful online course offers a lot more than just the basics you can find on the internet.

Do thorough research to ensure that people get the most value out of it.

Write an outline

Write down a list of lessons and topics you want to cover in a logical order. Make sure that your ideas evolve naturally, allowing for a smooth learning process.

Create the content

If you have a blog post, YouTube channel, or podcast about the subject, saw a webinar about it, etc. then you should have good materials to work with.

Repurpose that content to save you time because you will be spending a lot of time recording and editing. Look at how your competitors do it to give you some ideas on how to create good videos.

Take it online

When you have your content ready, it is time to take it online. You can sell your course on your website or on other online learning platforms.

Selling your course

There are a few options here. People can pay for it lesson by lesson, have free access to all of them by paying a monthly subscription, or offer the entire course for a certain price. Make sure to give a small preview so that people can determine whether it is worth it.

Price your course

The best advice here is to look at your competitors while also considering the time you put into it as well as the value it provides.

Market your course

Email marketing, advertisements, blog posts, YouTube promotions, and social media are some ways you can promote your course.

5. Social Media Channel

This is in many ways similar to starting a YouTube channel.

The idea is simple: you post everything that has to do with 3D printing to generate a following.

Creating an account on all those platforms is simple, but making a name for yourself will take a while.

In terms of monetization, it usually comes in the form of ads, affiliates, or sponsorships. If you need some ideas, check out the Plastic 3D on TikTok.

His content centers around creative 3D projects, and he has 4.7 million followers at the moment of writing.

The video “Beautiful 3D coin model” got over 3.4 million views since plastic3D has posted it on his TikTok feed, source: tiktok.com

Initial Investment and Income Potential

The biggest investment would be your time since you need to produce informative and quality posts.

Exactly how much money you make will vary across platforms but a small-time influencer (with 10,000 to 50,000 followers) can earn anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 a year.

What Do You Need to Start

There are a few ways to make money from social media when you have a sizable following:

Equipment

Same as with all video related content, you’ll need a camera and video editing soft.

As you’ll create content for a social media app, your phone camera should be enough.

Learn the rules of the platform

Either are these guidelines of the social media platform you choose or the algorithm behind it, learn as much as possible.

The guidelines help you understand what is allowed to post and what not.

Understanding the rules of the algorithm will support you on the way “up”.

Sponsored posts

In other words, advertisements.

Brands will pay for advertisements and when they appear on your page and users click on them, you get a bit of cash.

Affiliate products

Here, brands will pay you to review their products. It is worth pointing out that the best practice here is to be honest with your reviews and let your audience know about the affiliate relationships.

6. Become a Freelance Technical Writer

You can also offer technical writing services as a freelancer.

You do need to have a knack for writing and know your way around 3D printing and the software, however.

You can create an account on freelancing websites such as Fiverr and UpWork and try to find jobs from there.

The requirements for starting out depending on the platform, so you need to do your own research here.

Of course, it can be difficult to find clients if you focus on 3D printing only. But there can be an opportunity here.

Because it is such as niche market, there may not be any other freelancers around. That means, if someone needs a technical writer, you are one of the few options that they really have.

But that does not mean you can abuse your position, however.

Make sure to check your competitors to see what kind of services they offer as well as their prices.

Initial Investment and Income Potential

Depending on the platform, you can start your freelance business for less than $100.

Again, the challenge here is investing the time to make it work.

According to Zip Recruiter, the average income for a freelancer in the United States is around $69,000 a year, or around $33 an hour.

What Do You Need to Start

To begin your journey as a freelancer, follow these steps:

Identify your target market

Think about the kind of people you want to work with. From there, you can identify their problems and needs so you can tailor your marketing to the right people.

Create your packages and pricing

Think about how much to charge per hour or for the entire project. It depends on where you live. You can get some ideas by looking at your competitors.

Set up shop

Create an account on UpWork or Fiverr and put together your profile and portfolio.

Make sure to include your best work, the services you provide and their prices, testimonials if you have them, as well as contact information.

You would have greater control over this if you set up shop on your website.

Find clients

There are many avenues here. You can advertise on social media, look for projects on freelancing platforms, ask for referrals, etc.

Keep learning

Stay on top of your game. Take courses, attend conferences, and learn as much as you can, so you can provide more value to keep clients coming back to you.

7. Start 3D Printing Podcast

Think of this like having a YouTube channel about 3D printing, but in an audio-only format. Similar to YouTube, there are many things you can talk about in your podcast.

You can look at other podcasters in the space to figure out what popular topics are and go from there.

Considering that your only method of communication is through voice, it can be difficult to make a name for yourself in this space.

It is best to establish this alongside your YouTube channel and other ventures. Make sure that you have good audio by recording and editing it well.

Initial Investment and Income Potential

Although you can start a podcast without spending a dime on equipment, you should.

There is plenty of free software to help you record and edit your podcast, so you only need to invest in a microphone.

There are good options under $200 that give you really good audio quality.

You should already have everything else such as a computer or even a phone to record the audio.

What Do You Need to Start

One thing you need to know about podcasts is that you do not just upload them directly to Spotify or Apple Podcasts. You need a separate host for your files. Consider the following platforms:

  • PodBean
  • Transistor
  • Buzzsprout

With your podcast on those platforms, you can then submit an RSS feed.

It is a way to submit your show to other podcasting platforms. It contains information about your show and its episodes. That way, people can find you easily when they are looking for your podcast.

As for podcast directories, here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Apple podcast
  • Stitcher
  • Soundcloud
  • YouTube
  • Spotify
  • Google Play

From there, consider doing the following:

Market

There is a chance that your podcast makes it to the News & Noteworthy section on Apple Podcasts.

This will give you a great boost in exposure.

To get there, you want your podcast to get listeners and reviewers immediately.

So, create a buzz around it.

Have a landing page about it on your website, and let your followers on social media know about.

Make sure that you publish about 3 episodes that your audience can listen to immediately. It is enough for people to get to know you without becoming overwhelming.

Monetize

There are a few revenue streams such as sponsorships, affiliate sales, selling your products that complement the show, or direct support/membership with exclusive access to your content.

8. Write and sell e-books about 3D Printing

Another way to make money in the 3D printing industry is by writing and selling e-books on the subject. It is a pretty simple business model.

Initial Investment and Income Potential

You should have all the equipment you need, so you do not have to spend a dime to start writing.

However, you might have to pay for certain materials but even then, they should not be very expensive.

You do need to spend a lot of time researching, writing, and editing the book though.

As for income potential, you can get over $1,000 a month.

What Do You Need to Start

You can sell books on various platforms such as Amazon Kindle, Blurb, Payhip, etc.

Alternatively, you can sell it on your website. I recommend doing both, but you’ll need to have an existing audience for the second option first.

First, start with building a landing page for your e-book. This is where you introduce yourself to people, your book, and why they should buy it.

Keep the description short and concise and your layout nice and clean. Make good use of bullet points to describe your selling points and beautiful visuals to keep your audience’s attention.

Make sure that there is a handy button where they can purchase or download the book right away.

Also, having a compelling call-to-action (CTA) that asks visitors to buy your e-book. That can be in the form of headers, popups, footers, sidebars, or in the text itself.

Speaking of promotion, consider doing it on your social media as well. If you have a large enough following, this can be a very effective way to guarantee sales in the first couple of days.

You can even post teasers to hype up the sale as well.

What about publishing on other websites?

I recommend starting on Amazon since it is one of the largest marketplaces for ebooks.

You do lose out on a fair bit of profit, but you would have access to a much larger audience. Let’s walk through the steps:

Create a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account

Go to the KDP homepage and register your Amazon account or use its login information if you already have the account. You need to provide the author’s name, payment methods, and other tax information.

Pick a category

You can pick categories and subcategories for your book. Make sure to pick those that really reflect what your book is about instead of going for trending.

Upload your manuscript

Make sure to format your file properly. Microsoft Word DOC or DOCX files are okay if you do not know how to make a KPF file. Amazon has a handy guide on how to format your file for publishing.

Upload cover

Amazon has a Cover Creator tool that you can use to create a decent cover for your book if you don’t have one already.

Pick a price

This is going to be a tough one. Amazon has KDP pricing support which gives you a lot of helpful tips on how to price your book.

Publish your book

After submitting all relevant information about your e-book, just save your progress and hit “submit”.

It takes anywhere from 24-48 hours for Amazon to approve your book, and they will let you know if and when that happens.

They will also give you a direct link to your listing as well.

When it comes to actually writing the book, the first thing you need to consider is the topic.

There are a ton of ideas here. You can write about how to use a 3D printer, filaments, print designs, etc. If you are stuck, try looking at your competition and see what kind of books are in demand.

You do need to have a flair for writing in addition to having enough experience working with a 3D printer and the software, however.

9. Offer Local 3D Printing Classes

If you are confident with your 3D printing skills and love to teach others, consider offering local 3D printing classes.

Finding students might be tricky and you need to identify a problem that people are willing to pay money to solve.

You can google “3D printing” on Udemy or other online course websites for some ideas.

Initial Investment and Income Potential

You only really need time to put together a course and find students, so you can probably start with less than $500.

Finding students will take some time though.

As for income potential, it is difficult to find an exact figure, but a successful course should get you around $1,000 a month on average.

What Do You Need to Start

Having a course on how to operate a 3D printer is a good start, but there are other lessons you can offer as well.

You can teach aspiring entrepreneurs how to create a profitable 3D printing business and how to design 3D prints, for instance.

Is there a need for such classes? Absolutely! Many individuals and even institutions want to learn more about 3D printing. Maybe those businesses are looking to expand their horizon.

Regardless, they need an expert, and you might just be the expert they need.

Moreover, you can also position yourself as a consultant to businesses that want to incorporate 3D printing into their operations.

Although, I should point out that teaching locally will limit your reach. If you are struggling to find students, consider checking out takelessons.com.

It is a platform for local and online teachers alike.

It is easier to start there, but you should expand your reach if possible. For this reason, consider taking it online.

10. Printing Services – Online or Local

I am talking about Print-On-Demand services, or POD, where you print objects only when the orders come through.

For instance, maybe your local businesses are in need of some spare parts, but they do not have a 3D printer on hand.

This is where you come in. 

The right positioning in this case is essential to build a profitable and sustainable printing service business.

Currently, the highest demand in this field is in printing parts and prototypes for companies or projects. (Prototypes are described separately below)

When you’re just starting out, I’d recommend you to join any of the companies offering 3D printing services online.

This will help you not only generate first incomes, but you’ll learn about the business model.

Hubs - Online 3D printing service.
Online 3D printing service offered by Hubs. You can join their manufacturing partner program here.

Initial Investment and Income Potential

Your initial setup can cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.

As for how much money you can make, the figure is not clear.

It is possible to earn anywhere from $1,000 to over $5,000 in this venture depending on the time and effort you put into it.

What Do You Need to Start

With this in mind, how can you make money with POD services as a small-time provider?

The trick is not to compete on price. It is a race to the bottom, and you can only go so low before you start to lose money with every order.

Instead, create a high-quality printing business.

For this reason, you need to consider your investment wisely and pay for a more expensive but reliable 3D printer.

As for the prices, look at your competitors and go from there.

Research

Depends on how you decide to offer your service, you need to perform a deep research.

Either you join some online printing services as a partner, or you’ll offer your services on your own in your area.

The advantage of partnership lays in the network and marketing. On the other hand, you can not scale the business as much as you’d your own.

Anyway, you can combine these options and, as already recommended, you’d profit from the experiences you’ll gain from the partnership.

If you’ll offer the service locally, research the companies around your city.

What products are they offering where you could step in with your 3D printing service.

Matterthings.com - 3D printing serivce.
Montreal-based 3D printing service matterthings.com
Marketing

Of course, you need a place to advertise your services. Consider the following platforms:

  • Fiverr
  • Shapeways
  • 3DHubs
  • Treatstock
  • MakeXYZ

11. Print and Sell Products

This is perhaps the most straightforward way to make money. The idea is simple.

You design your products, print them, and sell them. No longer do you have to deal with dodgy manufacturers halfway across the globe when you have 3D printing technology at home.

There are two approaches here.

You can either sell your products on online marketplaces such as Etsy, eBay, Amazon, etc. or you can do that on your website.

Initial Investment and Income Potential

Similar to the previous idea, you may need anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 depending on your setup. It is a good range for most starter businesses.

As for potential income, the figure is unclear although you can expect to make anywhere from $5 to $20 an hour this way.

What Do You Need to Start

Hosting your storefront on online marketplaces is the easiest way to start your business.

You have access to a large audience and the infrastructure is already there to support your business.

For all of this, you only need to pay a small fee to list your products and you may have to handle the delivery.

However, there are a few reasons why you should consider selling products on your website.

For one, you do not have to deal with the overhead fees.

Plus, you have full control over your business unlike other online marketplaces where you have to follow their rules.

Another benefit is the audience. While other online marketplaces may have a larger number of users, that does not necessarily mean that all of them will come to you.

Visitors come to your website with a very specific purpose in mind.

If you have a decent-looking website with great content, most of your audience will soon become customers.

With the right software and printer, you can make some money by printing products for others. Here are a few tips:

Identify a market

When it comes to 3D printing, the sky is the limit.

There are countless possibilities here, so look for a niche market that you can serve.

You can make very specific products as a custom order for a specific customer, or print in bulk.

Regardless, focus on areas that you are good at.

Invest in a good printer

No matter how good you are at designing products, they are not going to come out well if you have a bad printer.

Do your research into different printers and get one that suits your needs. Yes, it is going to be expensive, but it is worth it in the long run.

Details

Having intricate designs on your products enhances the product’s quality, but do not forget about the final product’s size and shape.

Price

Think about the cost of material, printer, and time. To give you an idea, you can look at how much your competitors are charging and go from there.

You can check out websites such as cults3d.com where you can find both free and paid projects alike.

But before you download and use someone’s design, think about copyrights.

You can use some projects for commercial projects, but not all of them. Always assume that they are not unless the website’s policies state otherwise.

Alternatively, you can ask for the creator’s permission directly.

Some good 3D projects that can consistently sell are:

  • Fashion accessories
  • Spare parts
  • Home décor
  • Phone cases
  • Figurines

Where you can sell them:

  • Amazon
  • Etsy
  • eBay
  • Your own website

12. Design 3D Models and Sell

If you have a knack for making 3D designs, you can sell those as well.

It does require you to have designing skills, but there are courses online you can take for that.

Designing 3D models can be a lucrative way to make money, and you do not even have to own a 3D printer to do that.

You can sell your own designs through online marketplaces such as Cults 3D, Shapeways, etc.

If you have a knack for modeling, drafting, or sculpting, you can ditch physical products altogether and stick to digital products.

This is more on the passive side of things, but you can build it up alongside or independent of the physical product line.

The downside is that you will not be making a lot of money per sale.

Still, the lifetime revenue should still be higher than selling physical products. Digital files sell more frequently than physical products, and there are no production costs with every sale.

Initial Investment and Income Potential

The biggest investment you need to make is your time in putting together 3D models.

You do not need to spend a lot of money on the software, and you should have a computer with an internet connection already.

So, it is possible to start your business with less than $500.

As for income potential, there is no exact figure here.

Although, it is conceivable to make over $1,000 a month, at least once you get going. It might not sound like a lot, but it requires minimal maintenance on your end, making it a great source of passive income.

What Do You Need to Start

What you will need is:

Software

SolidWorks, Tinkercad, Blender, etc. If you need to create digital models of existing objects, you will need a 3D scanner.

As for slicers, they turn digital models into printable code that your printer understands. Cura, Simplify3D, and Chitubox are all good options.

Printer

The hardware side of your business.

FDM printers are best for small-scale operations and beginners.

Resin printers such as mSLA or LCD printers allow for intricate details that even the best FDM printers on the market cannot replicate.

Eventually, you may need to have your own “printer farm” where you run multiple printers for multiple projects.

Skills

Make sure that you are very familiar with the software and hardware before you take on any projects.

So, and where can you sell your printing designs? Consider the following platforms:

  • TurboSquid: One of the largest marketplaces with up to 80% commission with SquidGuild and insights and reports to help your business
  • CGTrader: 70 to 80% royalties, quick access to potential clients who need custom 3D projects, and reports helping you maximize income
  • Renderosity: A more art-centric marketplace that encourages community learning and creativity
  • Cubebrush: Free and easy-to-use platform with two options for revenue: 95% for sales through direct URLs or via social networks and 70% for profits from a sale on Cubebrush
  • Sketchfab: Has a “paid download” feature

13. Offer Prototyping Services

3D printing is also a handy way to create a prototype of certain products. The final product may have different materials.

However, the prototype can give the manufacturer a better picture of their product before committing to full production.

More often than not, prototypes use plastic or metal. Companies may create these using various methods such as fused deposition modeling (FDM) or stereolithography.

Prototypes give all parties a look at how the final product will turn out before investing time and money into production.

Initial Investment and Income Potential

You can probably start this business with less than $1,000 because you only really need to purchase a 3D printer for the job. Finding clients will take a while.

As for income potential, it is difficult to say. You definitely cannot make a lot of money at first, but basic prototypes can cost around $100 while more intricate designs may net you even more money.

What Do You Need to Start

The trick is to find clients. You can check local businesses or online platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr.

I should mention that these people will not trust you to handle it unless there is a way to prove that you are already an expert in the field.

This is another reason why you should have your own website.

Considering that there are all sorts of products out there, I highly recommend that you pick a niche that you are good at and stick to it.

Conclusion

And there you have it. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but this just proves that there are countless ways to make money in the 3D printing industry.

All it takes is a bit of time, effort, and know-how, and you just got all three here. I wish you the very best of luck in your endeavor if you do decide to start your business with 3D printing.

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