Ways to Make Money with a 3D Printer

James Alday, ImmersedN3D, 3D modeling and design.

eBay, Etsy, and a handful of other e-commerce sites that focus on vintage or handmade products may have kicked off the maker revolution, as it is often called. And with internet tools and services, 3D printing is quickly joining that movement of people who want to make things and sell them online. Here are some ways to do so:

How to Make Money With a 3D Printer

1. 3D Hubs and MakeXYZ have been growing like crazy and offer a nearly instant way to get into business as a 3D printer owner. You list your printer on their network and potential customers, usually local, can find you and request 3D printed work to be done.

Consumers, business owners, and busy engineers at large companies are often in need of 3D printing help, although the first category is just learning about  3D printers. You can be the one to provide that service, locally or online, if you are willing to ship items to customers.

2. Create an online store on Shapeways. These folks are the Etsy of 3D Printing. If you have designs or models ready, you can make them available within Shapeways for customers to buy. As you know, it is print-on-demand, so nothing is made until a customer orders it. They have all the tools to help you build an online store, plus they now have a nifty tool that will take your design and allow further customization – with CustomMaker

3. You can start your own shop on eBay or Etsy, or anywhere for that matter. Shopify is another e-commerce platform that works well for small businesses. Then you simply get your designs 3D printed at one of the above, or another local service bureau and print when customers order, then ship.

4. You could offer local engineering firms help with 3D printing prototypes

5. Offer to go in and teach classes, for a fee, on how to setup and use your own 3D printer.

6. Jewelry designers can scan their designs and migrate to a 3D Model and Print sales process, which is similar to the custom options above, but that you could do solo. Again, you will need a printer or a service.

7. If you are a home builder or renovation contractor, you can offer your customers who have unique, historical type homes special reproductions. Take a look at what Aztec Scenic Designs is doing in the Orlando, Florida market. James Alday, of ImmersedN3D, who has shared tips with us here, has done 3D modeling and 3D printing work for that firm. 

8. Find electroplaters in your area and find a way to combine forces. RePliForm works with anyone who has a 3D printer, but you could find platers in your area who would welcome new work and then you can offer to coat your prints in nickel, silver, or gold, to name a few.

9. Find a computer graphics (CG) expert or CG animator and offer to team up on creating physical 3D prints of his or her characters, or go bigger and pursue licensing deals as Sandboxr is doing.

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