How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

We discussed the most common ways to make money with a 3D printer, from 3D printing itself to sharing information about it.
By
reviewed
Reviewed by
Last updatedLast updated: May 21, 2021
Crafty Hangouts is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Crafty Hangouts is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

Depending on the model, buying a 3D printer might be a substantial purchase. If you have just bought a 3D printer Trusted Source 3D printing - Wikipedia 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is the construction of a three-dimensional object from a CAD model or a digital 3D model. The term “3D printing” can refer to a variety of processes in which material is deposited, joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object, with material being added together (such as plastics, liquids or powder grains being fused together), typically layer by layer. en.wikipedia.org , you might wonder how you can justify the amount you just spent on your new ‘toy.’ Did you know that you can earn with a 3D printer? In this post, we will show you how to make money with a 3D printer.

There are several advantages to earning with your printer, for example, it has a minor learning curve. There are also loads of options to choose from, so you can be sure that you will find that which is most suitable for you.

Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know about making money from your 3D printer.

1. The Most Obvious: 3D Print Something

If you are looking to make money with a 3D printer, the first step to take is to print out models. However, what should you create? The next section focuses on ten different product ideas that you can use to make money from your 3D printer.

Ten Product Ideas to Make Money

The great thing about 3D printers is that you could create nearly anything that you imagine. However, if you are really looking to make a profit from this venture, it is important that you create the right products.

People love cheap stuff, and if that is what you are creating to sell, your profit margin might be pretty low. You will have a hard time covering the cost because of the amount of labor and material needed to finish a job. That is why it is best to create things that solve costly problems.

In this section, we look at some of the products that you could make and that will give you a high-profit margin.

1. Nerf Gun Accessories

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

Creating nerf gun accessories is a surefire way of making a profit from your product. There is a fast-growing market for nerf guns and the accessories that they need. They are not only toys for children but are now used in offices and other commercial settings.

A quick search of 3D printed nerf will bring up loads of mods that you could choose from. The cool thing about these accessories is that they use a relatively little amount of filament but will cough up a huge profit. With one kilogram spool of filament, you can print numerous accessories that will deliver an excellent profit margin. Several reviews praise the MIKA3D PLA filament bundle as one of the best filament spools. It is available in different colors that you can choose from.

One advantage of this product is that the printing is straightforward, and the designs are already out there for you to choose from. It prints fast and easily.

On the downside, the accessories are easy to copy, and competitors are already entering the market. However, these downsides are synonymous with most businesses.

2. Flip Flop

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

Another product idea is creating flip-flops or customized shoes. It is a pretty dope idea, and the good thing is that not many are wise to it yet. It has enormous potential. Also, even if you face competition, executing the business plan properly will still give you an edge over competitors.

When talking about customized shoes, we aren’t referring to the complex shoes made by established companies. Instead, we refer to the simple flip-flops that feel so comfortable to wear. The problem with most flip-flops is that they aren’t made very well, which affects the durability.

By printing customized flip flops, products that are exactly designed based on the contours of the wearer’s feet, then you will certainly crack into the market.

3. Architect Models

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

This next idea needs a certain level of know-how, but it can be pretty lucrative. You could set up the business to offer to help architects to display their products in 3D form and print out the props. The possibilities are so much. This is a rapidly expanding niche, and the great thing is that you’ll usually have repeat customers.

The downside is that you will likely need some design skill or might have to pay someone with that knowledge.

4. Theater Props

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

Another product idea is to make props for movies, costumes, and similar stuff. If done correctly, this could be super lucrative. Realistic movie props are in high demand by fans. However, before you embark on this, ensure that you are legally allowed to create and sell these items. Some franchises might bar you from creating such stuff, so you need to be in the clear.

However, you could source for private collectors who might pay a lot for their own movie prop. The advantage of this product idea is that you can make a lot of money from it. The downside is the potential problem with copyrights.

5. Jewelry

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

You could create dress and grooming accessories with your 3D printer. With the high resolution, relatively lower cost of resin and other factors, you could make jewelry and sell it. Some of what you could make include rings, bracelets, and so on.

To create such products, you require some skill. However, if you have the skill and talent, you could end up making your own line of products and even make a name for yourself. The best way to get these products moving is to find the right niche then specialize in the basics in terms of designs and materials.

6. Robotic Kits

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

Another product idea is to create Robotic Kits for customers. These robot kits can fall within a wide range of designs. You could focus on an educational niche or any other niche that you are comfortable with.

7. Vases

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

You could use your 3D printer to make vases or any other in-home products like holders, coasters, and so on. Many people love such products, especially when they are created to look premium or high-end.

8. PC Cases

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

Although this is a high-end application, there are people that are ready to pay top-dollar for stuff like this. These custom cases should be of the highest quality. However, once you have your design, you could make repeatable designs that will be easier to create.

The downside of this very lucrative niche is that it might take plenty of time to create, so you need to charge for the time that you spend.

9. Earbuds

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

One frequent complaint that people have concerning earbuds is that they don’t fit into the ears properly. And this isn’t surprising since everyone has different ears. The earbuds that accompany phones or that are bought might not be comfortable or offer sufficient insulation.

This is where you come in. While there are manufacturers that already make stuff like this, you could still make your own place in the market. You could use a scan app to scan the inside of the ear to create the 3D profile. Then you can print out the earbuds that will fit right in the ear of the customer.

You can use different business ideas to make this even better and sell for a higher price. One main advantage of this product idea is that the costs are pretty small since the filament used is very small. You ought to have excellent profit margins on this.

To create these miniature products, you need to get the best printers that offer the best quality. Check out the best printers for miniatures.

10. Phone Cases

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

This is a nice option because it appeals to lots of people. Mobile phones have become an extension of us, and a customized phone case is one way to assert individuality. You could tap into the market by 3D printing phone cases. There are always going to be new phone models, and each one will require new cases, so you cannot run out of demand.

Below is a quick video guide on 3D printing basics.

Where to Sell Them?

There are several online e-commerce platforms that you can use to sell your 3D products and designs. One of the best places to sell your 3D products and designs is Etsy Trusted Source Etsy - Shop for handmade, vintage, custom, and unique gifts for everyone Find the perfect handmade gift, vintage & on-trend clothes, unique jewelry, and more… lots more. www.etsy.com .

Etsy is geared towards homemade goods, and 3D printed products fall right into that category. Most people that shop on the website already want handcrafted or homemade stuff. You can make a name for yourself on there by creating and selling the 3D products that we have listed above.

Some of the things that you could sell here include:

  • Phone cases
  • Customized earbuds
  • Vases
  • In-home crafts
  • Game miniatures
  • Movie props and designs.

Since there are several sellers on Etsy, the chances are high that people will copy your work if it is any good. How can you stand out on the website? Here are some tips:

  • Make high-quality products – no matter the competition, making high-quality products will keep customers happy and coming back to you. Thus, no matter what you are making, ensure that it is something that is of high quality
  • Have happy clients leave a review
  • Ensure that you have good product photos.


Apart from Etsy, there are other places where you could sell your products. Here are some alternatives.

Shapeways

Shapeways is a platform geared towards printing service providers. It requires sellers to register. They then offer services to clients and get paid after providing the service.

In addition, designers can create custom products. It is a simple platform that you can take advantage of to sell your 3D products and ideas.

Fiverr

Fiverr Trusted Source Your Access To This Website Has Been Blocked Something in your behavior has triggered our protection systems – we apologise for any inconvenience this process may have caused. www.fiverr.com is one of the most popular freelance platforms in the world. You can find almost any service rendered on the platform – including 3D prints and designs. If you are looking to really make money from your printing, then you can sign up here and source for clients. Compared to some of the other platforms, this is the easiest way of building a customer base. The downside might be that the clients might be cheap.

3DHubs

As you might have guessed from the name, this platform focuses on printing services. Here you can find potential clients, register your printer as available for work, and start getting and filling others. One unique feature of this platform is that it connects people in neighboring areas.

Treatstock

As with the other platforms that we have considered, Treatstock also connects people and shops that require 3D printing services. You need to open an account on the platform to start. After your registration, you are able to receive and complete orders.

These are just some of the places where you can sell your 3D products. Other platforms include:

  • Upwork
  • MakeXYZ
  • Sculpteo
  • Imakr
  • materialise
  • Ponoko

2. Print on Demand

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

Another way to make money from your 3D printer is to print on demand. Can you make a profit from this? Of course, you can. This is the first thing that might have come to mind when thinking about making money from the machine.

Printing on demand is one way a hobbyist can change his or her hobby into a lucrative business. If you are a beginner, you need to start off with a printer that is easy to operate. Here are some of the best 3D printers for beginners. There are several reasons why it makes sense to delve into printing on demand. One factor is this:

  • 3D printers are more affordable than ever before. Therefore, you could buy a cheap but good product and offer 3D printing services to anyone that requires it.

Since these printers are cheaper, it makes sense to delve into starting a business off them. However, there are some downfalls of printing on demand. For one, since 3D printers are more affordable than before, it is more accessible to people. More people thus can enter the business, which makes this aspect one of the most competitive ways of making money from the industry.

But this doesn’t mean that you cannot make money from this aspect. Here are some things that you should keep in mind if you are looking to make money from print-on-demand services.

  • The low-cost barrier to getting 3D printer means that more people would rather buy a printer than hire someone to help them create products. The only reason why they might still come over to you is if you offer the best in reliability and quality.
  • A large number of people in this aspect of the business means that you might find it hard to set a profitable price on your services.

With these in mind, you shouldn’t assume that print-on-demand services is the fastest way of making money with your printer. Anyone thinking about using this method should count the cost. You might have to invest in a more expensive 3D printer if you want to get consistently excellent results that will make you stand out among the rest of your competition.

Furthermore, it is imperative not to compete based on price. Instead of that, focus on making your service as good as possible. You should also look at other aspects of the industry like fixing files, design-on-demand services, and similar things that provide more value for your clients.

If you are determined to start with the print-on-demand service, then you need the right marketplace for your services. We have listed some of the best places where you can sell your services above. These platforms are often free to use and will only take a small percentage of your proceeds.

3. Build Prototypes

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

Another way to recoup your investment in your 3D printer is to build prototypes. Loads of inventors and entrepreneurs need 3D printers to bring their ideas to life. And you can position yourself to serve them.

Before the invention of 3D printing, it was pretty hard to be an inventor without a significant amount of investment. However, since 3D printers are relatively affordable, more entrepreneurs and inventors are turning to use them to produce their inventions and products.

So, how can you tap into this?

If you are not an inventor but you have sufficient knowledge about using the printer, then you can get some money off the service. All that you need is to offer to create prototypes for those with the original idea.

You can run it as a real business – having the inventors’ book appointments, consult you, and you’ll charge an hourly rate or however else you want. You will charge for the printing service. Since you are just starting out, you have the advantage of being affordable for these inventors since the high-level firms charge exorbitant prices.

By building 3D prototypes, you can make a fair amount of money from your 3D printer. Every business that is into manufacturing needs to have a physical prototype, and you can set yourself to be the one that they come to.

4. Sell Your Own Designs

Creating a business and making money from 3D printing is not only limited to using the printer all day long in creating prototypes. You can also find another way to earn from the machine.

Creating and selling designs is one in-demand method of making money. To get the best from this method, you certainly need to have design skills. These will come in useful as you create and sell designs to anyone that requires it.

What if you don’t have the design skills? Well, you can still make money from this method by hiring someone with the skills. If you will be hiring someone to create the designs, then you need to keep that in mind when setting the price.

Some advantages of selling your own designs include:
  • You don’t have to work all day to make money
  • It is relatively easy to scale
  • It is easier to run than a full-time printing business


Nevertheless, there are some downsides to selling your 3D designs. For example, it might be hard for you to get the customers that you need. You will have to do plenty of marketing to gain clients.

Other downsides include:

  • High chances of people stealing your design
  • You must not copy other’s designs
  • It is competitive if you lack creativity

Is It Legal to Sell 3D Prints?

We have seen that selling your designs is one good way to make money. However, making money this way is not as easy as just printing and selling anything that you like. You can get in trouble if you print designs that are legally protected by property rights.

Therefore, you should be aware of the rights. There are four main types of Intellectual Property rights. These are:

  • Patents
  • Trademarks
  • Copyright
  • Trade Secrets

Patents

These rights are often acquired by folks that are looking to sell their products. If you have created a unique item, you could think about patenting it so that nobody else can recreate your work or profit from it without your permission. If you are looking to make a product for commercial purposes, check out the patents that might affect the process.

Trademarks

These are designs, phrases, sounds, color grading, and similar things that are synonymous to a brand. These don’t require registration and can cover a large number of products.

Copyrights

This protects tangible creations ranging from music to software, art, and of course, 3D prints. Because of this right, you could be sued for creating and selling a replica of a product.

Trade Secrets

These are some processes, recipes, formulas, and combinations that are confidential and unique to a business. It is like classified information.

Overall, you need to be careful when printing designs for sale. If the parent company discovers that you are creating and selling their protected products, then you can be sued.

5. Start Your 3D Printing Business

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

Out of all the ideas that we have recommended, the most difficult, in our opinion, is starting a 3D printing business. It comes with certain advantages like a potential for serious profits and an advantage over online 3D printing ventures.

However, it does come with downsides. Here are some of the challenges that you are liable to face if you choose to start a 3D printing business:

  • The demand is highly dependent on the local situation
  • You have to input a high level of investment.
  • It can be difficult to compete with bigger businesses.

However, you might be fortunate enough to locate your business in a location where the demand exceeds the supply. There are several examples of successful 3D printing businesses, but you need to be appraised of the risks before you make the jump. There are several examples of companies that have packed up shop because they couldn’t keep running due to high costs.

If you are looking to start a local 3D printing business, you need to invest in an automated system for inventory and management. If you don’t have this, you will need to do a lot of work in filling custom others. If you don’t have instant quoting systems and similar processes set up, you might lose out on the clients that you have.

To become successful in this method of making money, especially as a small business, is to differentiate yourself from others. You need to expand beyond being a generic 3D printing business. You might need to include services to complement the 3D printing. You could partner with related companies, and this will give you even more capabilities.

If you are looking to start this business, then you certainly need to get high-quality yet affordable filament spools. The Hatchbox PLA printer filament is highly recommended by users on the market today.

6. Start a Blog or YouTube/TikTok Channel

No matter what you are selling, starting a blog is one way to make money. If you want to make money from 3D printing, then blogging can be great for you.

The first step on this journey is to have a website. To get that, you will require a domain name and have a hosting plan so that people can check out your website. You can find help on choosing your domain name on the internet. You will also find different hosting plans.

After you have the domain name and hosting plan, you will need to manage the website. There are different ways to do this, and one popular way is by setting up a CMS like WordPress on the website. As you are running the blog, you have to decide the type of content to put out there. The aim is to be unique and be engaging to your readers or visitors.

When there are a lot of people coming to your blog or website regularly, you can start making through adverts, affiliate marketing, and other related means.

Some content that you could put up on your blog includes 3D printer reviews. Since there are loads of printers on the market, people are looking for models to buy that will serve them properly. You can therefore test out different printers and provide the options to consumers. The reviews might be in video form or written form.

7. Become an Expert

You could make money from 3D printing by becoming an expert. As an expert, you have enough knowledge to assist others when they have questions about 3D printing. However, it isn’t enough to have the knowledge, but you should also know how to teach others.

As a teacher, you could create an online course about printing. When you are known as an expert, then people will believe what you say.

You can teach several things, but to get the most from this method, you need to find a problem that people are willing to pay for the solution. You can get pointers by checking out some of the biggest online academies and seeing the best-selling courses.

The course doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, neither should it be generic. You need to strategize to attract clients that want to pay you to teach them how to use 3D printers.

The major advantage of this method is that it allows you to keep making money even after you have created the course.

Keep in mind, though, that there are some downsides. For example, it can be difficult to make money since there are several free courses out there. It can also be tough creating videos.

8. Invest in Companies Related to 3D Printing

3D printing has grown in this century, and analysts project that 3D companies will continue to grow. The entire industry is worth several billions of dollars, and that is just projected to rise.

Even if you don’t own a printer or don’t have any idea about how to operate one, you could still make money from it by investing in companies that created 3D printers and related services and products. You could buy stocks or shares in these companies and wait for the dividends.

Before choosing the company to invest in, though, it is expected that you carry out due diligence, doing a lot of research to know the best options.

Apart from choosing companies that make 3D printers, you could also invest in companies that create accessories for 3D printers. For example, you could invest in a company that makes products like inks, filaments, and other stuff like that.

9. Rent Your Printer If You Have One

If you have a 3D printer but don’t have the time to create designs or sell products you create, then you could rent out the printer. While the costs for 3D printers have reduced over time, it might still be expensive for many people. Others might only need the printer for a limited time.

Take advantage of this market by posting your 3D printer up for rent on social media or similar platforms. When renting it out, you should have a contract that stipulates all the terms and conditions, including what will happen if the printer is damaged.

The price that you set on the printer depends on several factors, including the duration of rent and the model.

How to Pick a 3D Printer If You Don’t Have One Yet

If you don’t have a 3D printer yet, then you need to carefully consider this section. Here we talk about the types of printer, their suitability for business, and the features to consider when choosing a model.

Types of 3D Printers and Their Suitability for Business

There are several types of 3D printers on the market, from the most affordable to industrial-grade ones. Below, we’ll discuss them in more detail.

  • Consumer Grade Printers

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

As the name implies, these printers are best for consumer-grade applications. They are compact, simple, and best for small-scale printing. They are also quite affordable and offer you FDM and SLA modeling.

If you are looking for cheap consumer-grade printers, we recommend that you check out this article.

The QIDI TECH Industrial Grade printer is highly recommended by most users. While it is a bit above a thousand dollars, it certainly offers excellent value for the price.

  • Metal Printers

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

These are the best option if you are looking to start your manufacturing firm. They are quite expensive and usually out of the reach of startups.

  • Multi-material Printers

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: 9 Ideas to Consider, With Tips and Steps to Take

These are similar to metal printers and are best for established businesses. They are best if you are looking to create multiple items at a go.

If this will suit your business model, then you should check out this post that reviews some of the best multi-purpose printers on the market today.

Features to Look Out For

If you have decided to buy a printer, then there are certain factors that you need to keep in mind as you make a buying choice. Some features will affect how well the printer works and its price. Here are some of these features:

  • Printing Speed

The printing speed is an important consideration. Printers that can print very quickly are highly-prized on the market and are usually the more expensive options. If you are printing large volumes or big items, then you will want to save time by getting a printer with a fast speed.

  • Size

Another factor that should be considered when choosing a printer is the size. The size of the model will affect the cost that you will pay. Experts recommend that you choose a printer larger than your needs so that you can print larger items when the need arises. You also need to factor in where to place it, so check out this post for the best tables for printers.

  • Color Reproduction

There are several types of printers on the market, and some of them come with the ability to create products that have different colors. If the product you wish to create needs such features, then you should buy a printer with multi-color capabilities.

  • Resolution

In most cases, the better the 3D printers’ resolution, the better the final item will be. When choosing a 3D printer for your business, we recommend that you choose a model that gives you a high level of quality and resolution.

Final thoughts

This article has shown you how to make money with a 3D printer. Making money with this machine is much easier than you might have expected. There are just so many ways to monetize the printer. We recommend that you read through this post and choose the best way for you. You can create products to sell, rent out the printer, begin your own 3D printing business, and even become a teacher of the craft. Start now to make money.

References

1.
3D printing - Wikipedia
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is the construction of a three-dimensional object from a CAD model or a digital 3D model. The term “3D printing” can refer to a variety of processes in which material is deposited, joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object, with material being added together (such as plastics, liquids or powder grains being fused together), typically layer by layer.
2.
Etsy - Shop for handmade, vintage, custom, and unique gifts for everyone
Find the perfect handmade gift, vintage & on-trend clothes, unique jewelry, and more… lots more.
3.
Your Access To This Website Has Been Blocked
Something in your behavior has triggered our protection systems – we apologise for any inconvenience this process may have caused.
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *