Making money with 3D printing – what’s in it?

Many people are passionate about 3D printing. Not infrequently, the question arises as to how money can be made from this passion. If you are one of these people, you have come to the right place. Below we show what opportunities there are to make money with 3D printing. In addition, we will inform you about the respective advantages and disadvantages and give you numerous important tips along the way. But we can spoil a little right at the beginning: At least in theory, there are several options.

The most important in a nutshell

  • In order to make money with 3D printing, various options such as own prints, prints on behalf of third parties, or even service
  • Before you start, it is essential that you take a close look at the framework. Among them, your own possibilities, but also the hustle and bustle of the competition
  • In general, it is possible to make money with 3D printing. However, you should be creative and have business skills at the same time

Ways to make money with 3D printing

How can I make money with 3D printing? There are several answers to this question. We have listed the most interesting options for you below and, of course, want to present them in more detail.

  • Offer 3D printing service
  • Design and sell physical products
  • Create your own 3D models and sell them on platforms
  • Create 3D models according to customer requirements
  • 3D printing impart knowledge
  • Start your own 3D printing store
  • Offer 3D scanning service
  • 3D Printer Technical Support
  • Rent 3D printer
  • Become a content creator (Youtube,social media, blogs, etc.)
  • Employed in the 3D printing field
  • Investing in 3D Printing Stocks

Offer 3D printing service

The first thing that comes to mind around making money with 3D printing is, of course, offering your own 3D printing service. However, competition in this area has grown massively in recent years. Even a quick glance at the offers on Ebay Classifieds reveals: the selection is gigantic. So it has to be a special service to really stand out from the crowd here. Companies in Japan, for example, already offer their own 3D printing for action figures so that they can print themselves as such a figure. In the U.S., companies specialize in small wedding couples from 3D printers. Another disadvantage of the high level of competition is that prices for services have fallen significantly in recent years.

In this case, you will inevitably have to deal with a few other things as well. These include acquisition costs for the printers, profit margins, and the cost of pending repairs.

Arbitrage in 3D Printing Service

Slightly modified from this is the possibility of acting only as an intermediary. In this case, you look for a cheap, reliable and at the same time high-quality provider and sell their services or products. The disadvantage: You are the direct contact person for the customers and bear the responsibility towards them completely on your side. Even if the causes of problems may not lie with you at all.

Design and sell physical products

This option is similar to offering your own 3D printing service. But the advantage is that you can specialize and don't have to print everything. You can sell your work on platforms such as Etsy or Amazon. But also Ebay or Ebay classifieds can be suitable for this. Success stories have already been written in abundance in this way in the past. For example, those of the world-famous Fidget Spinner, with which sellers on Amazonhave been able to generate a fortune.

In this case, however, you should not ignore the competition and their products. You have to deal with possible copyrights and licenses. In the worst case scenario, you'll be in a lot of trouble for copyright infringement and the like.

Create your own 3D models and sell them on platforms

If you already have some experience with 3D printing and models, you can of course also distribute your models. Important to note for success is that your models should be as simple as possible to implement. After all, not every one of your potential customers has the same experience. So complicated models you will be able to sell much harder than the simple models. This, in turn, is beneficial in other ways as well. The more sales you generate, the better your ratings usually are. This in turn encourages new leads and sales. You should also make sure that your models can be implemented with as many printers as possible.

You can sell your models on different platforms like Cults3D, Myminifactory or Sketchfab. Our tip: It is always best to upload a photo of the printed model. At the same time you have to consider possible copyrights and license fees. And that in both directions. After all, you can and should have your models protected as well.

Create 3D models according to customer requirements

Another alternative is to create 3D models based on the customer's wishes. For example, you can charge on an hourly basis. However, licensing issues come into play here again. If a customer sends you a request for a model, you must be able to create it without hesitation. But what if a license is available or required for this model? You may need to obtain consent forms, or you may simply not be able to implement your customers' requests. Legal security is of utmost importance here and can quickly become a knockout criterion.

3D printing impart knowledge

If you don't want to work directly in production, you can of course share your knowledge with other people. In this case, you have some flexibility, because you can choose, for example, between online and offline courses or something similar. In the courses, you can impart new knowledge to interested parties, but of course you must also have excellent knowledge for this. You will only be successful here if you have enough knowledge, can explain it in an understandable way and at the same time create enthusiasm among the audience.

Start your own 3D printing store

Of course, you can also start your own 3D printing store and sell various products through it. Nowadays, this is relatively easy thanks to various wholesalers and the Internet. However, you have to consider numerous things and deal, for example, with storage capacities, suppliers or even customs regulations. The competition in this area is also not to be sneezed at. This grows daily and ensures that the prices for printers, filaments or accessories are noticeably depressed.

Offer 3D scanning service

You can also offer and specialize in scanning objects in the field of 3D printing. In this case, real objects are digitized. A service that can be important for many companies and industries. However, this is precisely why the choice of companies in this field is now very large. The competition is raging and so you need to find something here that clearly sets you apart from the competition. Since they all provide roughly the same services, it's not going to be that easy.

You should also not underestimate the requirements for advertising and marketing, not least because of the competition. Customers must be able to find you reliably and at the same time first become aware of your company. The alternative to this is to “do your homework” and start looking for customers on your own.

3D Printer Technical Support

Most 3D printers are characterized by high reliability. As with any other technical device, however, problems do not stay away. For this, you can form a suitable contact point with a 3D printer technical support. So in this case, you'll be advising 3D printer owners when they have problems with their devices.

However, the service is not available for all owners, but is primarily aimed at owners of more expensive devices. After all, an owner of a printer worth 100 euros will not want to invest the same value again in repairs. In addition, there may also be possible travel costs. The customer base here could therefore be very small for the time being.

Rent 3D printer

Not everyone needs their 3D printer permanently. Often, for example, students use this one-time for a creation for a suitable work or companies resort to the service in the course of an upcoming trade fair. In this case, you may be able to do good business renting 3D printers. This means that customers only borrow the equipment for a short period of time, and you receive a respective rental fee. Of course, you can also combine this service with your own 3D printing store or 3D printing service.

You have to take into account some specifications and requirements when renting. For one thing, there are legal requirements to consider, including equipment insurance. Likewise, you'll have to deal with things like shipping or pickup and possible storage locations. Not to be forgotten: The acquisition costs. Since you may need to purchase a variety of equipment, these costs can quickly skyrocket.

Become a content creator

With extensive knowledge of 3D printing, you can also become a content creator. In many cases, for example, this is first possible alongside a job. This way, you can build up a second mainstay in peace and quiet, and with a lot of patience. And at some point you may even become completely independent of further employment. As a content creator, you have many different options on the Internet, which you can also combine wonderfully with each other. For example, you can run your own blog and provide information about 3D printing here. You can enhance this with your own YouTube channel or social media profiles.

Different marketing options then come into question. On the one hand, you can generate revenue through advertising on platforms like Youtube. For this, however, you need a lot of subscribers and, most importantly, a lot of people watching your videos. So exciting and always new content is critical to your success. In addition, you can also use your reach, for example, for test reports or the like and thus participate in product sales. Another option is to take online courses via special course platforms such as Udemy. Of course, the competition is growing steadily here as well. However, there should still be a lot of potential here, especially in the niche areas.

Employed in the 3D printing field

Why always think complicated when it can be so simple? Of course, you don't have to go into 3D printing on your own; you can simply apply for a job with a company in this industry. As an employee, you have the advantage that the various additional tasks and responsibilities of self-employment are eliminated. So you can focus entirely on your 3D printing skills. Also not to be sneezed at: You can plan every month with a fixed salary. The disadvantage, however, is that you can no longer work in such a self-determined way, and your daily routine is also much more clearly defined.

Investing in 3D Printing Stocks

Another way to make money from 3D printing, at least indirectly, is through 3D printing stocks. Online entry into the trading markets is nowadays easily possible through various brokers and banks. With companies such as 3D Systems Corp, SLM Solutions AG or Stratasys Ltd, there are already some prominent groups in this field. You can also invest in companies such as Cellink AB, Hewlett Packard or Proto Labs Inc.

Conclusion: Making money with 3D printing possible

No question: Making money with 3D printing is still possible. You even have different options at hand, but they all have their advantages and disadvantages. The starting situation on the market has changed noticeably compared to just a few years ago. The competition has grown and is already established in almost all areas of 3D printing. However, there are still possibilities and opportunities. It is important that you are passionate about what you do and that you are constantly developing. If you then bring the necessary ambition, perseverance and patience, the chances of earning an income are not bad.

Frequently asked questions: 3D printing as a (side) job

In this FAQ you will find answers to burning questions:

All beginnings are difficult. So is generating print jobs when you're new to the business. As a rule, it is advisable to first “advertise” in one's own environment among friends or family. Afterwards, you can expand these activities and, for example, advertise on the Internet, place ads in newspapers or go on a classic search for suitable customers.

Basically, anyone who is well versed in 3D printing can make money. Different options are then available to you, whereby a successful company history is by no means pre-programmed. You have to prove yourself again and again in everyday business life, test new limits and cause a stir with creative ideas.

Via the Internet, you can easily sell your 3D models all over the world. However, in this case you may have to deal with customs regulations, copyright regulations or similar. The shipping of products naturally also plays an overriding role in deliveries around the globe.

You should always copyright your 3D printed models to make it clear that you own the copyright. If someone then steals your idea, you can take legal action against them. However, you must keep in mind that copyright law has also been developed very sensitively. Even minor changes to the models can potentially lead to them being allowed to be distributed by competitors quite legally.