Henry Ford was once asked whether the idea for building a fleet of affordable cars had any inputs from the common people. Ford famously replied, ‘If I had asked the public what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.’
The point is, innovation is not dependant on the opinion of others. Whatever the field is, one has to constantly keep updating in order to remain relevant in the market. Had it not been the case, the world would not have witnessed the respective ages of industry, and later, technology.
If you are reading this, you are probably a 3D printing enthusiast like us. And like us, the thought of monetizing or incentivizing this skill must have crossed your mind at least once during your printing escapades. So, today we shall talk about a few ideas that can go a long way in making a quick buck for you out of this beautiful hobby.
- 1 3D Printing Business Ideas
- 1.1 Subcontracting
- 1.2 Customized Earpieces (pods/buds/phones)
- 1.3 Customized Specs/Glasses
- 1.4 Merchandise/Collectibles
- 1.5 Promotional Products for Brands
- 1.6 Detailed Models
- 1.7 Personal Accessories
- 1.8 Footwear
- 1.9 3D Product Prototypes
- 1.10 Electronic Devices parts and cases
- 1.11 3D Art
- 1.12 3D Printing Education
- 1.13 Custom-Made Tools
- 1.14 Vintage Spare Parts
- 1.15 Ecommerce Product Supplier
- 1.16 The Medical Industry
- 2 Conclusion
3D Printing Business Ideas
One of the most common ways to incentivize your 3D printer, subcontracting is a simple service, created for people who need their ideas printed for effective costs. In other words, subcontracting is a tailormade business model for prospects with predesigned 3D models who need them printed, usually in bulk.
The modus operandi is very simple. You put up your 3D printing services on sites that your target audience has access to. This includes all social media, in addition to designated freelance work sites. Spreading word amongst friends, family, and acquaintances does not hurt either, as you’ll be surprised to see the amount of work a good word of mouth can bring to your table.
When a potential client needs a design printed, they contact you. After the obligatory negotiations for determining the costs, you take the project up, finish the job, and deliver the final work. Once you complete the transaction, you move on to the next deal. This idea makes sure that you earn through your printer while applying minimum personal efforts.
Customized Earpieces (pods/buds/phones)
Do you know that sound quality is NOT the first thing that earbud users seek in their devices? Ask any music lover what they like most about their earbuds, and they’ll say that the fit of it matters the most. And why not? After all, a great set of earbuds remain in the ear and do not fall off at something as trivial as the wind changing directions.
In addition to that, they don’t hurt your ears even if worn for long durations. The sound quality, of course, is still vital to make an ordinary set of earbuds into a great pair. Not every earphone fills all these criteria, because honestly speaking, no two pairs of ears have the same fit, and hence, the need for 3D printers arises.
When we offer earbuds that are tailormade to suit the customer’s ears, people are bound to sit up and take notice. While it might not be the most original of ideas, it is still a niche that can be explored, and if managed properly, incentivized nicely.
Similar to customized earphones, 3D printing customized eye or sun glasses is also an area which can be cashed into. If you thinking pain in the ears due to uncomfortable fit is a bane, just wait until you hear the tragedies that befall people with uncomfortable glasses.
In addition to leaving ungainly marks on the nose where the frame rests, most bulk-made glasses are unable to pay heed to the simple fact that not all ears in the world are symmetrical. This is when we have already factored that all face types are different, ergo needing different frames.
Enter 3D printed eyewear frames. Customized to fit the wearer’s face like a glove to hand, one can also play around a lot with the design and flexibility parts. With a little tweaking around, it is a fairly simple process to prepare multiple frames for each customer. It arms them with different glasses for different occasions, all of which fit perfectly.
The earth revolves and rotates. Seasons change. Fashion fads come and go. Things that are in the vogue today might go out of trend tomorrow. But one thing that always remains evergreen is the people’s love of collectibles.
It might be a baby Yoda figurine, a Cristiano Ronaldo bubblehead, an Albus Dumbledore bust, or a brooding, life-size model of Batman. Fans and admirers love their fandom and never shy away from expressing it, especially in the form of souvenirs. Sportspersons, Singers, Actors, Business Leaders, Artists, TV, Movie, and Anime characters… the list goes on, and they gotta collect ‘em all.
Checkout: Best 3D printer for miniatures
There are two imminent benefits here. One, as the inventory is usually small, hence light in weight, the printed products are relatively easy to deliver or store. This implies that one does not need heavy equipment or large storage spaces for the same. The second is that one has an infinite scope of expansion, once the business is up and running.
Promotional Products for Brands
In professional circuit marketing, branding the image of the company into the minds of the people is a very important tactic. While stationary, coffee mugs and water bottles branded with the company logo have become a given, corporates are always on the lookout for creative ideas to market their products.
Giving away promotional merch to employees and potential customer bases is a highly efficient gimmick. Owing to this perennial need, never say no to sticking their logos onto newer and more creative products.
Now, it is a known fact that a 3D printer can create (almost) anything. When put in this context, a lot of potential opportunities open up. Creating relevant, innovative little things that people are likely to keep in their day-to-day vicinity can go a long way to boost both the company’s image and your business. From simple tabletop stuff like cardholders to branded utilities like pen stands, coffee mugs, or ashtrays, the possibilities are endless.
We are living in a truly digital age, no two opinions about that. Businesses have shifted from painstakingly creating models to working and editing on digital models. But some of the niche businesses that involve models at the core of their operations will always need them.
Businesses like Construction, Real Estate, Public Works, interior design, museums need high-quality models with the finest attention paid to the details. As 3D printers produce an exact copy of the digital design it is assigned, it automatically becomes a logical approach.
Add to it the immensely less time that it takes to make a print, and you are armed with a tool like no other. If you know someone who knows someone who needs models at their workplace, pick up that phone and ring them right away.
Gone are the days when diamond-encrusted rings or shiny gold and silver ornaments were the standards for jewelry and personal grooming accessories. In today’s world, the need for sustainable, cost-effective artifacts has outgrown traditional jewelry. Everyone is looking for more creativity in their wardrobe, and that is exactly where 3D printers can capitalize.
If you have a keen eye for detail and a good sense of fashion, 3D printing accessories like jewelry, bracelets, wristbands, etc. have a lot of scopes. Of all the trends that come and go, the basic idea of accessories remains the same. All that remains is to give them a creative touch and a dash of color, and off you go. Check this guide on 3D printers for jewelry.
In addition to being more precise, it is also much more cost-effective. More often than not, a lot of material goes to waste in carving out the perfect wear piece. 3D printing can take that wastage out of the equation, dispelling only the needed amount of filament. In fact, some filament can be made out of recycled materials too, thereby contributing to a greener earth.
As is the case with accessories, the market has also upped its footwear game in the last few years. While a solid pair of oxfords or a pair of smooth, silken loafers will always be among everyone’s wardrobe essentials, the need for new always appears every couple of years.
To prove this point, Adidas recently launched its range of 3D printed sneakers, and the world couldn’t help but go gaga over them. If the world’s largest sportswear brand can do it, others will surely follow suit.
If you have a sharp eye for design and a good taste in footwear, 3D printing shoes is another area you can look into to funnel your inner designer and make a few bucks while you are at it. It might not be for everyone, but it is a highly recommended sector for those who dare.
3D Product Prototypes
The past decade has been the decade of start-ups. With innovative start-up ideas growing and blooming left right and center, the need for prototypes has also hit a new high. Be it for presenting to potential investors or the general public, companies need working prototypes of their products to showcase their idea.
As it can take a lot of edits to get a working prototype right, 3D printing them saves a lot of money, time, and effort. Enabling instant edits and changes on the go so as to meet client expectations, can be a very fruitful venture for 3D printers.
Electronic Devices parts and cases
With new top-of-the-line gadgets and devices foraying into the market every day, the field for making their parts is wide open for all enthusiasts. In an era that is witnessing the rise of smaller and more compact parts, 3D printing them can go a long way towards saving both costs and labor.
Meanwhile, the market for 3D printed mobile and laptop cases/covers has already been tapped into and is witnessing great leaps. Significantly less expensive and more sustainable than conventional products, 3D printed cases are all the rage.
In addition to that, it also opens up unlimited possibilities to customize a case according to the customer’s wishes. Anything from a special moment, a tattoo, a loved one’s picture, or a favorite fictional character. 3D printing offers a creative license like none other.
Almost every item from the aforementioned list has more monetary possibilities than artistic delight. But if you really want to satiate the artist within you, simply take to printing your 3D art and making it commercial afterward.
While it might not make you the next Picasso, nor might it bring in a flock of customers like, say merchandise printing, it is sure to make you proud with every sale you make. For the people who actually buy them, value your intrinsic art form.
All the ideas mentioned above are easy to bring on the ground and can be started from the ease of your own backyard or garage. Not only will these activities keep your inner creative involved, but will also go a long way towards contributing significantly to your income.
Apart from these, there are a few other 3D printing businesses that you can carry out, but they require external assistance for sales, supply, and demand. If you have relevant contacts in the places that matter, you can also try your hand at professional 3D printing. Let’s have a look at these too.
3D Printing Education
One of the most basic things that a 3D printing expert can do is to impart the skill to others. One might argue that it is not for everyone, and is also pretty plain in comparison to other, more glamourous options, it is also true that not everyone can do it.
There are a lot of people out there who would like to start off their own 3D printing enterprises but cannot do so owing to the lack of proper training. If someone is willing to take classes where they’ll brief students about the goings-on of 3D printing, it is a worthy task. Not to forget that imparting knowledge in any form is one of the noblest things one could do.
Another interesting part is that one does not necessarily have to schedule and hold physical classes. With the interference of the internet, it can be taught on various platforms and gather a more widespread reach, thereby netting better charges.
All major manufacturing companies use tools that are compliant with their mechanism only. Although a brilliant method to ensure that their parts are serviceable only with genuine service providers, this policy also means that companies end up spending significant budget allocations on these tools.
The dilemma of making lesser tools with no wastage can be solved readily by 3D printing these tools. If you have a trained hand in mechanics or toolkits, you can venture into 3D printing custom-made tools for these manufactures. Who knows, this might end up being a far more profitable venture than what you set out to achieve.
Vintage Spare Parts
People who own vintage or even older, currently decommissioned car models know that it is very difficult to find exact spare parts for their vehicle in case of a repair. When the making of these parts has gone completely off the market, it makes sense to simply 3D print them and make them accessible to those who need them.
If you can find an automobile garage or service center to partner up with for this venture, it is for the best. Even if that does not seem likely, you can advertise your services online and the people who need them will surely reach out to you. Trust us, to them, it is almost magical!
Ecommerce Product Supplier
This one is a bit on the trickier side, simply because even if you manage to partner up with an e-commerce supplier, the immense customer base opens a world of new options for you to explore. It will fall under the B2B (Business to Business) category and is a prevalent practice already.
Most e-commerce companies outsource much of their inventory from other nations. Having a worldwide audience, the transportation costs are immense. Therefore, providing them with good quality products at reasonable amounts can go a long way towards making profits for both parties.
The Medical Industry
There are a plethora of 3D printing business opportunities in the medical field as well. Both independent freelancers, as well as full-fledged corporations, are dealing with them. When the USP is making the world a better place, who will not be interested to pitch in? There are three major areas where 3D printing businesses can contribute.
- Production of Pills
FDA has approved the production of 3D printed pills way back in 2015. As printers have a host of materials to use as filament, they can use them to effective measures to create better medicines. Materials that can be consumed better and digest faster are a definite improvement from conventional medicine.
It might be a hard pill to swallow (pun intended), but 3D printing pills are a much better alternative. If you hail from a medical background and are interested in 3D printing, this is one venture you should try out.
- Medical Implants
With rapid advances in the field of Med-tech, gone are the days of filling the teeth with gold or silver amalgams or the body with steel rods for every bone lost. Now, 3D printer medical implants can be created to perfectly fill in bone implants, dental cavities, and much more.
In fact, the creation of 3D printed tissues and organs is also on the charts, and while that might take some time to come into the mainstream, the creation of 3d printed implants is surely a tappable resource.
It is a misfortune to have prosthetics implanted. But it becomes more dreadful with ungainly and heavy material that does nothing to facilitate ease of access. And while material like Carbon Fibre is somewhat better, it is too expensive in most cases.
Enter 3D printing, and all of it becomes better and simpler. Not only are 3D prosthetics much better at adapting to body types, but are also easier on the pocket. With options to produce prosthetic limbs, artificial dental sets, and other body support and mobility equipment like crutches and wheelchairs, 3D printing can bring revolutionary changes.
3D printing is more than a mere hobby, as any enthusiast will tell you. It is a painstaking journey towards enlightenment for those who choose to pursue it religiously. Therefore, when an opportunity presents itself to monetize this venture, it is imperative that we grab it up.
As a popular maxim goes, ‘If you fail to make money while you sleep, you will have to spend all your time awake grinding yourself to the tipping point.’ We hope this list of business ideas you can undertake for monetizing your 3D printer will go a long way in helping you make a difference, both towards yourself, and your finances. Happy printing folks!
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