With the increasing accessibility of 3D printers, more people are wondering, can you actually make money with one of these futuristic devices?
The short answer is yes! There are now many ways to use your 3d printing equipment for real income.
In this article, we'll explore a few creative ways you can monetize 3D printing. From selling 3D printed products online to offering local 3D printing services, you can use your 3d printer to start a profitable side hustle.
It’s important to match your skills and resources to the 3d printing right business model.
6 Ways to Make Money with 3D Printing
Sell 3D Printed Products
One of the easiest ways to make money with 3D printing is to directly sell your 3D printed creations. The barrier to entry is low if you already own a 3D printer, and selling online gives you wide reach for finding customers.
Popular platforms like Etsy and eBay have built-in marketplaces where you can open up a store and sell 3D printed products such as gadgets, miniatures, vases, chess sets and more.
There is lots of competition, but you can stand out by targeting a specific niche with your products. Find a specialized audience that is passionate about your designs.
Optimize your store and designs directly to your niche and make use of social media groups and forums to market and sell to the ideal target audience.
Offer Local 3D Printing Services
Instead of selling products online to a global market, you can also provide your 3D printing skills locally. Start by setting up a website advertising your 3D printing services in your city or region.
You can offer several printing services on your website:
3D print on-demand: customers can upload 3D models or designs and get them printed
Small batch manufacturing: produce short runs of products or parts
3D scanning and printing: scan an object using a 3D scanner, then print it
Design services: offer 3D modeling and CAD design along with printing
Education and training: teach workshops on 3D printing
The great thing about local services is that you can meet face-to-face with customers, make lasting business relationships, and provide hands-on help.
To expand your services, consider investing in a 3D scanner so you can offer complete scanning and printing. Reach customers through local ads, signs, events, and word-of-mouth referrals.
Sell Digital 3D Designs
If you’re already really good at making 3d models, you can make money selling your 3D printable files rather than the physical prints. Digital files are easy to reproduce and sell again and again.
You can sell your designs on 3D model marketplaces like CGTrader.
Another option is to provide 3D modeling services on freelance sites like Fiverr, customers will provide specifications and you create custom 3D models for them.
With this approach you have global reach and passive income from digital products. The bad news is that there is a lot of competition for this business model specifically.
You can also start your own Patreon page where supporters pay a monthly subscription for access to your growing library of 3D printable design files.
Pros of Patreon include predictable recurring income and building direct relationships with customers.
Cons are the need to consistently create new designs to provide value for supporters each month.
Overall, selling digital files is a scalable way to use your design talent while avoiding the effort of printing and shipping physical products yourself. With the right digital skills, you can earn substantial money in the growing market for 3D digital designs.
Launch a YouTube Channel About 3D Printing
YouTube allows you to make money from uploading videos about 3d printing and 3d printers.
You can start a channel focused on 3D printer reviews and comparisons, tutorials for beginners, showcases of model projects, or any 3D printing niche.
Here are some video ideas that might be interesting:
Unboxing and reviewing new 3D printers
Filament comparisons and stress tests
Step-by-step 3D printing tutorials
Model painting and finishing techniques
Timelapses of models being printed
Discussing applications and benefits of 3D printing
With this strategy you are building an audience and authority over time, as well as earning recurring income from ads, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing.
Launch a 3D Printing Blog
Do you find yourself in a situation where you like both 3D printing and writing? Blogging might be the perfect thing to combine these 2 hobbies.
This side hustle can be really challenging at first, a blog allows you to target key search terms and rank highly in search engines over time.
Here are a few content ideas:
3D printer reviews
"Best 3D printers for X" comparisons
Step-by-step printing tutorials
Showcases of model projects
Strategic tips for 3D printing businesses
Interviews with industry insiders
While growing search traffic takes patience and consistency, the long-term payoff can be significant passive income. You can monetize a 3D printing blog via ads, affiliate marketing, digital products, sponsored posts, consulting and more.
Sell an Online Course About 3D Printing
Creating and selling your own online course is a great way to monetize your 3D printing knowledge into a premium digital product. You can teach beginners the fundamentals or provide advanced training for experienced makers and entrepreneurs.
Courses are highly scalable, meaning each additional student costs you nothing extra. Profit margins are excellent since your costs are limited to the course creation process.
The downside is that creating a truly helpful course takes significant knowledge and effort. You'll also need to handle marketing such as running ads to attract students.
How much money can you make from 3D printing?
It depends on the business model and effort put in. Selling prints online can bring in a few hundred dollars a month on the low end but can scale to thousands for those who build large shops. Local printing services can make $50-100k+ yearly with multiple printers and clients. Information products like courses can make six figures if marketed well. Overall earnings range widely based on your goals.
What is the most profitable 3D printing business idea?
For most people, local 3D printing services offer the best balance of high profit margins and steady demand without huge overheads. With skills and some startup capital, providing a menu of on-demand printing, prototyping, design, and even training services to customers in your area can be very profitable.
Is it easy to make money from 3D printing?
No, in most cases making money from 3D printing is not easy. But with the right strategic approach related to your resources, it can be very rewarding. The barrier to entry is low if you already own a printer. You will have to choose a business model aligned with your goals, abilities and budget.
There are lots of ways to make money with a 3D printer if you get creative. You can sell actual printed stuff online or in your town. Or you can sell 3D digital files so other people can download and print them. Making YouTube videos about printing or blogging about it can earn money too.
The easiest way for most people is probably offering printing services locally. But it takes some startup money to buy printers and supplies. Selling online reaches more people but has lots of competition.
Overall, a 3D printer can make money if you match it to something you're good at and work hard. The more effort you put in, the more profit you'll get back out. Pick an idea that fits your situation and start testing it out.