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Everything you need to know about starting a 3D printing business

A machine doing a 3d logo model in a printing business
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One of the smart ways to make money in this era is to start a 3D printing business. We know you may be asking why. Well, the truth is that there are lots of opportunities in the business model. The technology has reached almost all industries such as fashion, medical, foods, construction, etc. These days, 3D printing is no longer reserved for testing prototypes. It has outgrown that level, especially now that 3D printers are more affordable. Every day, we see more and more products in the 3D printing business. Also, there’re lots of services being offered with the technology as well.

So, if you’ve decided to start a printing business with this technology, read on and discover how to make money with it.

The truth is that there’re lots of printing business ideas to explore right now in the niche.

RELATED: 100 BEST BUSINESS IDEAS WITH SMALL INVESTMENT

We’re going to talk about many of these opportunities and also show you how to start a successful 3D printing business.

But before we go into all that, let’s discuss a little on why the 3D printing business is a good choice.

Why is 3D Printing Business Right for You?

Even though the technology has existed for more than 2o years now, it seems to be gathering momentum recently.

It has reached many industries already, and it means more opportunities to make money for people like you who have studied the tech and mastered the skills.

You can offer products or services, and no matter which one you choose, you’ll never lack for ideas.

According to reports, the market size for 3D printing worldwide is expected to grow to USD 51.77 billion from now until 2026.

The number of coins increasing in a row show growing of income
Photo by Tumisu from Pixabay 

This is to show that instead of decline, the business is on a steady rise.

Moreover, as technology is becoming more necessary in the healthcare industry, we’ll soon see a boom in the market going forward.

So, be ready to record more success in your 3D printing business as the years go by.

Other reasons for the growing preference for 3D printing include:

  • 3D printing reduces printing errors
  • The results of the process are usually accurate
  • It allows the printing of customized products
  • 3D printing is efficient in terms of production time management
  • There are lots of materials available for 3D printing

As for 3D printing business materials, the market includes ceramics, polymers, and metals globally.

Also, this technology has applications for many industries such as automotive, healthcare, industrial products, education, aerospace, consumer products, defense, etc.

Therefore, starting a business is a wise decision because it’s already a large industry, but it continues to expand.

However, there are some areas of challenges in the 3D printing business.

The first one is that skilled laborers are few while the demand for them is rising every day.

Also, the end-users of 3D products usually bears the brunt of the production cost.

But we believe that as more and more people join the industry, there’ll be a rise in skilled workers.

Many people will end up learning the skill, and the cost of production will become lesser and lesser.

3D printing business ideas

There are lots of printing business ideas to explore if you want to make money with your 3D printer.

That’s one of many reasons to support your dream with immediate action.

You can’t be short of ideas to explore in 3D printing business.

Let’s show you some areas to check.

Product Production

There’re lots of products you can create and offer to consumers using 3D technology.

The good thing about producing consumer products is that you can never be short of what to create since 3D technology is becoming very important in every industry.

So, if you want to create products, consider the following printing business ideas:

Customized 3D glass frames;

We all love to wear glasses, but the challenge has always been to get the right one that matches our face.

Therefore, anyone who’s offering to make customized frames printed with 3D technology can make money in the industry.

This is a simple but highly-demanded product that people haven’t discovered yet.

So, you can hit the jackpot with this while others are scrambling for the big wigs.

Customized earbuds;

Many people struggle with the choice of their earbuds because they want to prevent the challenges of an uncomfortable set.

But it’s not always easy to get that perfect match.

So, if you focus your 3D printing business on producing customized earbuds that won’t hurt anyone’s ears but delivers quality results, you’ve got yourself a winner.

Many hearing aids are indeed printed with 3D technology already, but you can grab a sizeable market share with the earbuds if you do it right.

Collectible items;

Do you know that most people would rather decorate their homes with collectibles such as figurines, graphics, plates, dolls, bells, steins, etc.

Also, some people would rather use collectibles to give their favorite celebrity as gifts than any other item.

So, you can produce these items in many niches and position your 3D printing business for success.

Promotional products;

Companies use these products to promote their services or their products for more patronage.

It is possible to print anything with your 3D printer to make money from these companies.

But you have to be innovative with promotional products.

Don’t offer the same thing that others are producing.

Think of something unique and offer to both companies and ad agencies who’re constantly in need of promotional materials.

For instance, if you decide to offer something like 3D printed business cards, you have to make it different from others already in the market.

Medical implants;

As stated earlier, 3D technology is reaching far and wide, and the growing usage in the health industry is driving its popularity.

The need for implants is growing as well, and lots of people are already moving with one implant or the other.

The beautiful thing about using 3D technology for these implants is that it allows for customization.

This means that every patient will have an implant that is a perfect match for him/her.

So, if you have the skills to produce medical implants, you’re already positioning your 3D printing business for success.

Fashion products;

There’re lots of products to offer in the fashion world.

You can concentrate on printing jewelry, shoes, fashion accessories, etc.

Many companies are already leaning towards this 3D printing business, and you can join them from the fashion niche.

3D-printed pills;

It may surprise you to know that you can venture into pill production with your 3D printers.

You may not know this yet, but as far back as 2015, the Food and Drug Administration approved a 3D-printed pill.

This is how we know that 3D technology is here to stay.

Already, there are lots of materials being used to produce 3D products such as aluminum, ceramics, and plastic, plus a host of others.

But some 3D printers can work with materials suitable for effective medication.

The amazing thing about this is that these 3D printed pills dissolve quicker than our conventional pills.

So, this is an opportunity for anyone with a medical background to explore.

Customized tools;

Any companies in the manufacturing industry use custom-made tools only.

The reason is that they have unique manufacturing processes that may not work with random tools in the market.

That’s why they pay fabricators to customize tools to suit their processes.

So, if you have the skills to do well in the business, you can utilize your 3D printers to offer these products to them.

Prosthetics;

There’re lots of niches under this product for anyone to explore.

You can venture into the production of artificial teeth, prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, or other customizable mobility tools.

The selling point about your products under this industry is the ability to customize products based on the user’s unique features.

Spare parts;

You may have noticed that many old cars no longer have spare parts available in the market.

You can use your 3D printers to make new parts for these old buddies and offer them for sale.

Many people would rather buy these spare parts than suffering through constant repairs.

Artworks;

If you’re very creative, you can create unique arts with your 3D printers and make money.

We all love to behold wonderful and story-telling art.

You can be that entrepreneur who makes and sells innovative arts using 3D printers.

Apart from selling on-demand, you can open an online store where you sell your 3D-printed artworks.

Product improvement;

Many products are in the market already, but you can reimage these products and also redesign them in a way to suit the users more.

Also, instead of improving them on a general scale, you can decide to customize these products to suit the needs of specific customers better.

Services rendition

Apart from creating your products, you can offer services to others using your 3D printers.

That means you can still start a printing business as a service provider.

Let’s check out some of the printing business ideas under services to make money.

Outsourcing your design services;

If you don’t have the time, resources, and energy to enter into production, you can render design services only.

Many companies out there are already into the 3D printing business.

You can be their designer because many of them may not have creative designers to develop ideas like yours.

This business model is unique because the demand for skilled 3D designers is still high.

So, put your skills, creativity, and imagination to work and make money with them.

Printing in demand;

Many people are already rendering this service, but who’s to stop you from being the best with quality work.

Before you start rendering this service, make sure you find the right niche where you can focus on to achieve more.

You can use the B2B business model for this service and focus on rendering your services to businesses.

You can start by joining marketplaces such as Shapeways, 3D Hubs, etc.

From there, you can grow your 3D printing business to a higher level.

Start a designing and printing service center;

This is like combining the two services in one large center.

This business model ensures that you can handle the whole 3D printing process under one umbrella.

You can design what your customers want and also print it for them.

Also, if they need design and prototype, your company is rightly positioned to provide the services to them.

There’re lots of opportunities or marketing outlets for anyone who establishes such a company to handle both 3D designing and 3D printing services.

How to start a 3D printing business?

If you’re ready to start your 3D printing business, this section will guide you on everything you need to do.

First, let’s take care of the preliminaries-actions you need to take to start a printing business.

1. Acquire the skill

You can’t start a printing business without knowing everything available about the technology behind it.

If you want to make money through your products or services, you must be the best.

Other entrepreneurs are already in the niche, so you have to develop high-quality products and services that’ll beat the competition.

That’s why you must be a master of 3D technology before starting this business.

If you don’t have the time to learn under somebody, search for online courses about 3D technology.

Since the technology is evolving rapidly, you need to be abreast of the newest design software and 3D printers too.

2. Decide on your business idea

It is best to start something unique in a flooded market.

You can think out something-product or services that no one is offering presently in the 3D printing business.

This will help you to hit the ground running with your business.

We have also provided many printing business ideas in this article.

You can choose any of them and transform them to suit your business goals for the new start-up.

There’s also a possibility of building on ideas by adding an attractive twist to either the product or services.

3. Create a budget and gather your funding

Every business needs funding in the beginning.

You can’t start a 3D printing business without planning for the acquisition and disbursement of business funds.

Some of the options to explore for business funding, including traditional loans from banks or using crowdfunding websites.

The amount of money you need to get depends on the size of your business.

If it is a 3D printing home business, you can use your savings to start.

But if you’re talking about a manufacturing unit with all the equipment and personnel, you need external funding to start.

4. Pick the best 3D technology

One of the important aspects of starting a 3D printing business is to choose your tools.

When it comes to this business, you’ll need the best 3D printer that’ll match your budget and also suit your needs.

Choose the technology from the right source to ensure that the after-sale support doesn’t fail you.

5. Choose your selling platforms

This decision is very important to everyone who wants to start a printing business and sell the products or services online.

You need a platform where you can sample your product, such as Amazon, eBay, or others.

Also, you must open social media accounts to advertise your products, services and to stay in touch with your customers.

Make sure that your brand is visible online to drive more patronage.

One platform is not enough for this goal.

So, we encourage you to open as many accounts as you can manage on social media to drive any of these printing business ideas to success.

What do you need to start?

After taking the preliminary actions explained above, it’s now time to gather your tools.

Let’s talk about the things you need to start a printing business.

1. 3D printer(s)

This is the first tool you need to get before exploring any of our printing business ideas.

Without your printer, there’s no product or service unless you want to outsource the creations to a third-party vendor.

3D printer is making a new figurine
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay 

But it is better to use an in-house 3D printer because you’ll achieve your goals faster.

Things to consider in your 3D printer

  • Printer technology
  • Printing accuracy
  • Raw material
  • Printing speed

2. 3D printing software

You can’t explore any of the printing business ideas we have listed above without the software to make them happen.

The good news is that you don’t need to spend much on the software in the beginning.

Instead, you can choose the open-source software that comes free for all and upgrade later when the business grows.

Things to look for in a software

  • Printer models suitable for 3D output
  • Ability to position models properly on your print bed
  • Support generation for a more stable model

3. Choose your material

If you want to turn any of our printing business ideas into a huge success, you must use the best materials.

Before you choose your material, we’ll advise you to first decide on the products you want to achieve.

Focus on the strength, durability, and details of your creations to guide your decision.

Things to look for in a choice material

  • Compatible with the 3D printer you have
  • High-strength characteristics to suit functional components.
  • Versatile for more than one application

We recommend Thermoplastic filament because it is one of the best material so far in the 3D printing space.

4. Get a sample kit

You don’t need to waste time mulling over the material to start a printing business.

You can simply get a sample kit to test some material before deciding on which one to use.

These material sample kits don’t cost much, but they’ll save you many headaches and regrets.

You can test many materials, including metals, sandstones, or ceramics.

You don’t have to choose thermoplastic at once although it’s very popular.

3D printing business success stories:

If you still doubt your decision to start a printing business, check out some of these success stories below.

1. Octobre71

This company is one of the top players in providing customizable light glasses with additive manufacturing.

They’re using 3D technology to achieve mass customization for these glasses.

2. Valoptim

This is another 3D printing business success stories to motivate you for more action.

This company creates a mini version of properties using 3D printing technology.

So if someone buys a property and wants to get an idea of how it’ll look like after development, Valoptim creates it for them in 3D.

This is very important for those in the property development industry.

3. Endeer

Here is a company owned by Claire Chabaud.

The company combines 3D scanning & 3D printing to create customized bra armatures.

They use Nylon PA12 to create these 3D-printed armatures, which they insert into their underwear collection.

Due to 3D printing technology, the company can offer custom-made bras for women.

4. Adidas

We all know this company in the fashion space for making different kinds of sneakers, athletic footwear for men and women.

This big shot has also embraced 3D technology in creating custom-made shoes with plastics material from the ocean.

There are many success stories to share about 3D printing to show that 3D technology reaches deeper into many industries.

Companies like Apis Cor, Simusolar, MX3D Feetz, Jaguar, etc.

And are already offering amazing custom-made products and services thanks to 3D technology.

Final words

If you’ve decided to start a printing business, you’re in the tracks.

We have taken time to share everything you need to know, from the reasons to start to the success stories in the industry.

We only shared some business ideas, but many other ideas are still coming up as the adoption widens.

So, if you start now, you’re going to be among the key players when the industry expands more.

However, before you start, don’t forget to take the important steps we’ve mentioned here as well.

Don’t forget to engage in 3D training as it will ensure a more successful business for you.

If you master the technology, you can even provide 3D education for other upcoming entrepreneurs and make money from them.

That’s another business model to explore in 3D technology.