We take a closer look at how you can make money with a 3D printer.
The invention of 3D printing has revolutionized the way that many look at the world of manufacturing, and it has created many new avenues of opportunity for innovative entrepreneurs.
With additive manufacturing technology, objects can be produced with a high level of customization and complexity while also bringing down costs. Furthermore, there is now the multitool 3D printers that are even more versatile – some even call them all-in-one machines. Let’s take a look at different industries which have been transformed by 3D printing and how to make money with a 3D printer.
Commercial 3D printing and selling items
One of the easiest ways to make money with a 3D printer is to offer the printer as a commercial service or to sell items that are made with it. Businesses and individuals often want objects produced through 3D printing, but don’t have the equipment. Additionally, as a skilled designer, you can make items and sell them. For both approaches, you can find robust marketplace communities that help to facilitate your services.
One of the top websites for commercial 3D printing is 3D Hubs. You can list your 3D printer as a service here and then take orders and get paid for the items that you produce. It’s easy to join and the site has many resources to help you out. All you need to do is start an account with a valid email address, list some details about your printer and you are basically ready to start taking orders.
Beyond 3D Hubs, you also have sites like imaterialise and Shapeways. These services are easy to join and also offer many great opportunities for people that are interested in making money with 3D printing. You can join the one that you feel meets your needs best, or you can join a range of different sites to explore more possibilities.
With imaterialise, you have a service that caters for people that need their designs produced. They upload their design, pick materials and other specifics and then the team at imaterialise brings the finished product to life. In addition to that, they also have features that help designers to display, promote and sell.
At Shapeways, you have an all-in-one community with designers and printers who sell their services to people looking for 3D printed items. Shoppers go there to find experts who can help them develop products, to find printers to produce their design, or to shop through the vast range of products that are offered by the community. Here as an owner of the printer, you can serve these customers in multiple ways.
These online communities make it easy to put your machine to work and make money with a 3D printer right away.
Rapid prototyping services
Next, up we have rapid prototyping, another 3D printing service that is in high demand among professionals and businesses that work in architecture, design, engineering, and construction.
Thanks to 3D printing technology, a scale prototype can be produced and professionals can use it to show their designs, give a conceptual presentation, or test the viability of an end product.
The benefits of rapid prototyping with 3D printing instead of other traditional methods include:
- 3D printing decreases the time and cost of prototype production.
- Reduces the possibility of a mistake in the design or fabrication.
- Allows for the possibility of prototyping more variants of the same design.
- Increases the ability to make a more complex end product.
Many businesses and designers have put rapid prototyping to the test and it has already shown to be an improvement over the traditional methods. Major manufacturers and designers, such as those mentioned below, have seen its value for improving designs and reducing costs.
For example, Polish company YLE Engineers used a 3D printer from ZMorph to prototype a bridge that they were designing. The ability to make reliable and realistic prototypes with little effort, and at a lower cost, helped the design firm to test their plans against simulated conditions and to refine them before building their construction.
Architects that use 3D printing services to showcase their designs too. Instead of spending weeks waiting for models to be built by hand, they can be done in a fraction of the time with 3D printing.
Auto designers have also used 3D printing to prototype different car partsand to test different features on new models. Some examples include the American automobile giant Ford and the Australian division of the automaker General Motors.
In these cases making money more quickly can occur due to faster production time and cutting cost in development. You can also help companies like the above in the process and serve as their prototyping middle man.
Homemade products and crafts
Another great way to make money with a 3D printer is to get into the market for homemade products and personalized crafts. Some companies have started to offer products in this field using 3D printing and it has led to many success stories.
A great example of this is how antique style interior design items were fabricated by Laboratorium of Digital Fabrication using 3D printing. Instead of having to spend more money and waiting months for these items to be made by a craftsman, they were produced and ready for installation in about three days!
You also have companies like American Standard and Emerging Objects that have gone out of their way to design and produce unique home décor items using 3D printing. Their 3D printed items include everything from furniture and cutlery to unique lighting fixtures and plumbing.
A third and notable example is the jewelry companies that have decided to take advantage of the versatility and convenience of 3D printing. Vowsmith, for one, used 3D printing to make custom wedding rings with the fingerprint of their fiancé. Another example is the jeweler American Pearl. They are using 3D printing to make custom jewelry and it has shown to significantly cut the cost of the process due to reduced labor. The owner of the company cites a case where they used 3D printing to design and produce a piece that they sold for $105,000, where traditional costs would have been over $250,000. Additionally, they are able to offer customers customized pieces which are ready in 3-4 days. Their ability to undercut their competition and provide quicker service is showing to be advantageous.
This is an area showing great promise in opportunities to quickly make money with a 3D printer.
3D printing courses
Businesses and schools are using 3D printing to bring down the cost of training and to improve the educational process. 3D printing can be used to expand the practical end of courses in subjects like construction, engineering, design, and architecture.
At Penn State, for example, you have engineering and design students using 3D printing to develop and produce products. The lower cost and increased versatility with 3D printing make it possible for them to develop products that are more customized and allows them to experiment with different designs and features at a much lower cost.
UVA is also using 3D printing to improve the way that they teach engineering. Instead of looking at diagrams and talking about how things work, the students can actually design, handle and create different components to see the way that they function in the real world.
So, now you can make money with a 3D printer
3D printing clearly offers a number of great opportunities to make money, but if you are going invest in this opportunity, it is important to consider a multitool 3D printer. These newer models have interchangeable toolheads that make them multifunctional. With a model like the ZMorph VX, you get more than just 3D printing, you also get CNC cutting, milling, laser cutting, engraving and the ability to 3D print a wider range of products. This expanded versatility equates to more income possibilities.
In conclusion, 3D printing can be an artistic outlet, it can be a way to manufacture commercial goods and it can be a service that you sell. When you have a versatile multitool 3D printer, it can be all of these things and more. If you are a business or an individual with the ambition to increase your profitability, owning a multitool 3D printer can be the tool you need.
Have you heard or seen other notable strategies on how to make money with a 3D printer? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.
Freelance writer and ZMorph blog contributor