The first day your 3D printer arrives, you probably spent hours setting it up and printing various products. However, most people realize that 3D printing is an expensive hobby. Since it is a costly piece of equipment, many people look for ways to make money using 3D printers to justify the cost. Rather than simply playing around with it, you can get returns on your investment. Although it will take time, work, and some out-of-the-box thinking, you could turn it into a source of passive income.
Making Profits Using 3D Printers
While 3D printing may be new to you, it has been around for decades. And, many people have already successfully used them to generate income. If you have similar ambitions, the first step is to learn as much as you can about the technology and the competition. Then, you will need to find your niche where you can stand apart.
Once you identify a specific demand, the next step is to get to work creating a solution. Those who have been able to build a lucrative 3D printing business had to be flexible and adaptable. With so many hobbyists and engineers attempting to do the same thing, you are competing in a saturated market.
7 Ways to Make Money Using 3D Printers
1. Make and Sell 3D Products.
If you want to make and sell your 3D products, it is not cost-effective to focus on individual orders. They are usually very complex and more expensive to construct than you would think. Although they are so versatile you could literally make anything, printing simpler items with mass appeal is the way to earn huge profits.
The key is to recognize popular trends to determine what people want and your abilities to produce them. Once you know who your market is, you can get to work and use e-commerce sites like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay to sell your items.
2. Offer Specialized Printing.
Another way to stand apart from your competition is to provide on-demand and specialized printing services. Some people already have a design and simply require the equipment to produce it. Others may request more in-depth assistance and time to create their items. To accommodate the spectrum of customer demands, you can offer a range of pricing depending on how labor-intensive each project is.
The ideal situation is one in which the customer has a simple design that is easy to mass-produce. Items like toys, miniatures, jewelry, scale models, home décor, phone accessories, cups and mugs, and sports equipment have a good profit margin. However, if you have a knack for design, you can also seek out inventors looking to make prototypes. Your skill level will largely determine what kind of specialized services you can offer.
3. Sell Your 3D Prints.
Selling original designs is a good option since you can make money using 3D printers beyond running your equipment 24 hours a day. The idea is much more scalable with larger potential profit margins, but it is difficult to find your footing. Not only must you have the skill to create original high-quality designs, but you must also find a way to reach customers. And, there is always the risk someone will steal your designs and repost them without your permission. However, your 3D designs could become a steady source of passive income once you gain traction.
4. Learn about 3D Printer Repair.
If you own a 3D printer, you know how expensive it is to replace it. So, from a financial perspective, it’s a good idea to learn how to troubleshoot and repair it yourself. This will save you a ton in maintenance costs. But, it’s also an innovative way to utilize your knowledge to make money using 3D printers.
Since it is a highly specialized skill, people will pay well for your expertise. Setting hourly rates will ensure you receive fair compensation for more intensive repairs. You can also purchase broken ones online, then fix and resell them for a profit. The more models you familiarize yourself with, the more marketable you become.
5. Rent Out Your 3D Printer.
You could also rent out your printer to bring in extra income. This is a good option for those who are not as adept with designs since many clients already have a design and model, but lack access to a 3D printer. Advertise through social media or classifieds in your local area. But, make sure to protect your investment. Before trusting your 3D printer to a stranger, write up a contract outlining the rental period, deposits, and penalties if the printer returns damaged.
6. Start a 3D Printing Business.
Although much easier said than done, consider starting your own business. However, if there is demand for your services, you could turn it into a profitable business venture. You also have a local advantage over online providers with a brick-and-mortar location they can visit. While there are high investment costs and serious competition from established companies, the right idea could make you a lot of money.
7. Start a Blog or YouTube Channel.
There are many novices out there who search for advice. If you have a talent for explaining things, you could host a blog or YouTube channel sharing your experience and knowledge of 3D printers. You could demonstrate basic operation and maintenance tips because it’s easier to understand when you can see how it’s done. If you gain a large following, it could attract sponsors or marketing that could generate additional income.
Platforms to Offer 3D Printing Services
Many platforms offer ways to connects with people near you. Not only does it reduce delivery times, but it creates a greater presence and higher chances of finding clients. Sites like 3D Hubs allow you to list your services, accept orders, and then get paid to produce them. Shapeways is a community of designers and printers which provides expertise in all areas. In addition to offering a wide range of products and services, it is also a great resource for people seeking advice and support.
Since it is still a burgeoning industry, there are many opportunities out there to make money using 3D printers. While there is no get-rich-quick scheme, the right combination of skill and innovation could become a profitable revenue stream.