As word of 3D printing spreads like wildfire throughout the world, many individuals and businesses have already established their own 3D printing businesses.
The good news is that competition is still surfacing, and you can get started right away to avoid much of the chaos.
It would have seemed impossible only a few years ago, but you can now build an entire business around 3D printing.
We have already seen examples of 3D printing being revolutionary in a variety of fields, including healthcare and education.
There are also many unlocked doors that can be unlocked using 3D printing.
You can use 3D printing to create your own unique ideas and give the world something new to try.
Any business needs basic skills and a way of thinking. 3D printing is a new area of business that needs more time to develop. Technology is still being made better.
I would prepare for this business in two steps. First, you need to learn how to be an entrepreneur and get a business mind. I’d recommend that you start by learning about the business opportunity analysis canvas. It will help you see your business plan and analysis in a bigger picture. You can also learn the basics of accounting and office work.
In the second step, you need to first know a lot about 3D printing & Software. You can do as much research as you want on 3D printing, or you can take a free 3D printing course on Coursera, which I did.
Depending on where you live, you may also need to do some basic market research. This is easy to do by asking people what kinds of products they want.
For example, kids in your area may want to put their pictures or name on their toys. Remember that what the customer wants is more important than what you think is the right product.
Alternatively, you can begin customizing the ones that have already been tried and tested by adding a unique twist through your creativity.
Let’s take a closer look at how this technology is constantly changing the way we do business and where you can fit your jigsaw piece to reap the most benefits.
Pro Note: The most profitable as of 2022-2023 are tabletop miniature Figurative 3d prints.
Will 3D Printing Business be Profitable?
It will not be factually incorrect to consider 3D printing as a profitable business.
You can certainly turn your imaginations and ideas into profits if you are willing to explore and pursue a few small as well as large avenues required to start the business. You must seek to learn about technology in all of its forms.
There are often questions of this nature when a new business is started, including the following: How can one make a living off of 3D printing? Would there be a return on investment?
And so are all of the worries that individuals have about beginning a business that involves 3D printing, particularly when they do not know how to make use of it.
There are a lot of different applications for 3D printing, but picking the right one might be difficult because of the wide variety of printer and material costs, as well as the enormous variety in the mechanical qualities of the pieces that can be created.
To get started with 3D printing, you have two options: established business or freelancer services.
1 – Established Company:
If you have some money to invest in developing your own brand, you can launch a full-fledged company that accepts orders from customers (B2B or B2C) and ships the finished product. You can look for clients who require prototyping or customized items.
You can sell items printed on your 3D printer to local stores and accept customization requests.
2 – Freelance 3D Printing Services:
If you are new to 3D printing and do not have much experience, it is best to start as a freelancer. You can still start providing freelance services.
What you’ll need to start a 3D printing business as a Freelancer
Research your way out…Folks!
Research … a Lot. Reaching helps you Figure out what’s in and what’s out in the 3D printing Business.
Begin your investigation further with Kickstarter campaigns devoted to 3D-printable figures and then move to 3D-printing Facebook groups, which pointed you on the proper path for additional study. Who better to consult than your prospective clients?
Attend a 3d Printing workshop and get to know the basics and the industry. Its a collaboration of two industries primarily for making a 3D printer(Electronics and Mechanical industry) , although the Printing industry is looking to adopt it in the field of personalization, packaging, and research.
You can make money by printing cool little things, like figurines, art, and tools from Thingiverse. Bundle them in one lot and sell on Mercari.
A spool of filament costs 11.99 but I can print 60 chess rooks and sell them in bundles of 10 for $15, profiting $60 after filament cost and shipping, and all items on Thingiverse are free to download. Also, you can play around with the download to make your own unique item.
Websites I use for research include the following.
- To view other active projects and their triumphs on Kickstarter.
- To investigate other creators offering monthly 3D packs on Patreon.
- MyMiniFactory is one of the most prominent online 3D printing stores.
- Artstation – A global community for 3D and 2D artists working in games and visual effects.
- Thingiverse – A website with free printable 3D models
- Pinshape is a website that offers both free and premium 3D printable files.
- Cults3D – A website that provides both free and premium 3D printable files
- I would suggest watching tutorials for creating 3D figurines, as well as reviews of 3D printers and experienced miniature artists, on the world wide web and on Youtube.
- There are numerous Facebook groups devoted to 3D printing – Nomad Sculpt , Zbrush & Blender, and so on…simply search for 3D Printing Business and “3D printing” groups.
Get the right Tools & Training
So, what are the tools you need to start your 3D printing Business From home?
- You’ll need 3D Software to create 3D Characters – If you intend to be a Freelancer, Nomad sculpt is the Software that I recommend to Learn & Master. You can also Explore other 3D Softwares Like Blender, Forger, and Zbrush.
- Computer, laptop, or iPad ( For Nomad Sculpt)depending on the 3D Software you choose
- Additional tools like Stylus, gloves, and iPad stand( for Nomad Sculpt)
- What Type of 3D Printer to use Resin, FDM/PLA – Check out my Blog 11 best Budget-friendly 3D printers
- If you are a Newbie, you’d want to learn the Software to create 3D Models & Sculpts.
Decide your Niche or the Business idea
Sculpting in three dimensions requires time, patience, and practice. Technically, anyone can do it, but it takes time to learn, particularly if you have no prior experience with 3D modeling.
Based on your research and your personal Interests you decide your Niche/Business Idea. For instance, I decided, based on my study and personal preferences, that I wanted to develop personalities, & Characters and because of my own interests, I decided to create bust sculpting.
Use 3D printing for prototyping or commission work for things you design. That’s how to be profitable. Also, Deciding to start a Business really depends on how much money you have and happy to invest.
With less money to start a 3D printing Business: – You can buy just one 3D printer (FDM/FFF) and start offering 3D printing services in your area. But you can’t get rich with just one printer? But I guess it’s a start. Also, you can add a 3D scanner after that.
- You can work with advertising firms that don’t want to use 3D printers and have them send the work to you. Some new businesses also need 3D printing to make prototypes.
- If you know enough about 3D printing, you can start workshops or classes on the subject.
- And much, much more. Having a 3D printer will help you in many business areas.
If you have more money to invest, you can do all of the above, but better.
- You can make a farm for 3D printing.
- You can buy different kinds of 3D printers (FDM, DLP, SLS, and full-color 3D printers) and some very good 3D scanners (with 5-digit prices) so you can give your customers a very good service.
- You can open a Makerspace or FabLab where people can use machines on their own.
- You can open an online store for Maker products (3D printers, 3D scanners, 3D filament, and so on).
With RepRap’s Open Source, you can build and sell your own 3D printers.
You can Try to be in 3D printing Jewelry, the Home Decor Industry, or even the Promotional Products Industry- Check out My Latest blog 11+ Innovative & Profitable 3D Printing Business Ideas that can help you decide on one Niche to move forward…
Just to make it simple, I am sharing below some of the top 7 Most Successful Business Ideas for 3D Printing
- Personalize Well-Known Characters
- Creating New Fashion Items like shoes or bags
- Kids Toys printing
- Jewelry Designing, Casting & Printing – The term “3D printing jewelry” does not refer to the process of actually printing wearable pieces from filament or resin. Instead, the term refers to the use of a jewelry 3D printer to create high-resolution wax models of the eventual gold or platinum design. These wax models are then used to create a mold that is burned out and cast using investment casting or lost wax casting.
- Developing and Creating Prototypes
- Adult Toys printing
- Designing Culinary
- Utilizing 3D Printers for the Process of Bioprinting
- 3D Printing Personalized Medicines: A significant number of patients, particularly elderly persons, are required to take medication on a consistent basis. Ingesting medications is not a pleasant experience, and the process is made even more unpleasant when the pills do not dissolve quickly or when they are too large to be easily swallowed. In order to address this issue, there is a growing demand for individualized medical treatment. You can now get involved in the 3D printing of medicine, which has already begun by the pharmaceutical industry.
If you choose to operate a business in the field of medicine 3D printing, you will have a significant advantage over the competition due to the low number of existing competitors.
What Is The Best 3D Printer to start 3D Printing Business?
The selection of a printer is contingent on a variety of elements. Before you go out and buy a 3D printer, you need to consider the following.
When looking to purchase your first 3D printer for use in your office, lab, studio, or workshop, the ease of use and availability of customer assistance should be the first things on your list of priorities.
Your company’s printer needs to make a contribution to the overall productivity and speed to market of your business. It needs to reduce the amount of time and money you spend.
You can’t afford to squander time with a variety of manual controls that require the knowledge of seasoned professionals, prints that fail because the mechanics are unreliable, or no one to call for assistance.
Below is the list of top 3D printers for Freelancers & Small businesses
- Anycubic Photon Mono x – Resin 3D Printer(- Most suitable for Miniature Characters
- Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K – Best Printer Choice for Jewelry Printing
- FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro2 – Best 3D Printer for industrial design, tool design, architecture designer, mechanical designer
Other printers in the list:
- Formlabs Form 3+
- Ultimaker S5 Pro
- Markforged Mark Two
- Raise3D Pro3 Plus
- Formlabs Fuse 1+ 30W
- Original Prusa i3 MK3S+
Legalize your 3D printing business
Next, choose a business structure and register it with the Secretary of State in each state where you operate.
Five legal structures are typical.
In a sole proprietorship, the 3D printing business owner is also the business. Sole proprietors are accountable for all debts and liabilities. A sole proprietorship requires no procedures and is easy to operate. A sole proprietorship is easy and cheap to form. The owner is responsible for all business debts and commitments.
Small business owners often form partnerships. It’s an agreement between two or more people starting a 3D printing firm. Partners share gains and losses.
A partnership is straightforward to form, and partners share earnings and losses. Disadvantages of a partnership include joint liability for commercial debts and challenging partner arguments.
LLCs limit their owners’ liabilities. This means LLC owners aren’t liable for business debts and obligations. A 3D printing LLC offers flexible management, pass-through taxation (which prevents double taxation), and reduced personal liability. LLC drawbacks include state availability and self-employment taxes.
C-Corporations are distinct from their owners. It has an EIN and stockholders. C Corporations offer minimal liability for 3D printing business owners. This means owners aren’t responsible for corporate debts and obligations. C Corporations are double-taxed. This implies both the firm and its owners pay taxes on profits and dividends.
An S Corporation gives its owners limited liability protection and lets them pass corporate income through to their personal tax returns, avoiding double taxation. S Corporations have constraints, including the number of stockholders.
Your state will provide you with “Articles of Incorporation” once you register your 3D printing business. This is needed to open a bank account (see below). Consult an attorney to determine your company’s legal structure.
What Types Of Skills Are Necessary To Get Started With 3D Printing?
Printing in three dimensions successfully involves a few different skill sets, much like any other occupation.
It is not foolhardy to try one’s hand at a profession in the same sector, as the industry is expanding and has attracted people from just about every possible subfield to conceive of its applications.
If you channel your skills in the correct direction, you could make unimaginable amounts of money.
There are businesses out there that have integrated 3D printing into several stages of their production process.
If you have the necessary skill set, you have the option of either joining them or starting your own 3D printing business. Then, what exactly are those skills?
Knowledge of the 3D Printer
The inkjet printing process is far superior to the 3D printing process. It is not enough to just press the print button on the computer in order to pull the document directly from the mouth of the printer. Operating a 3D printer effectively calls for a high level of technical expertise.
It is not in your best interest to have to pay for a damaged 3D printer, since this will only drive up your manufacturing costs and delay your deliveries.
If you are unsure of how to operate the printer correctly or which filament to use with a particular 3D printer, you run the risk of causing irreparable damage to your 3D printer, which could range from minor to major.
Keep in mind that purchasing a 3D printer will incur an expense and if it breaks down, replacing it will require another significant financial outlay.
Therefore, you should make an effort to educate yourself as much as possible on your 3D printer. Normal inspections and material filling are both things you need to be familiar with. In order to ensure continuous operation, you need to be aware of how to work around specific bugs.
Expertise in 3D Software– for creating 3D Art
Despite this, there are certain jobs that can be completed with only fundamental familiarity with CAD and slicing software. Also Read: Do I Need to Know How to Sculpt as a 3D Modeler?
Softwares you need to be familiar with If you want to start your 3D printing Business
- Sculpting software like Nomad sculpt, Mudbox, Zbrush, Or Blender.
- Lychee Software for Slicing the 3D Object before printing
However, a specialist understanding of these two software packages is necessary for prototyping and a variety of other specialized areas.
You can study the software as well as how they work by enrolling in one of the many online courses currently available.
Even if they are not particularly difficult, you might need to spend some time thinking about them in order to get a better grasp on what they mean.
After all, any error in getting the plan perfect could end up costing you a lot of money. You should never settle for 3D printouts that are an exact reflection of the opposite of what you envisioned.
Spend some time getting familiar with the software. Be aware of the options that are available and determine which one would work best for the model of your organization.
Before moving further with the business plan, you should begin by using the free versions of the software to test your knowledge, learn how to produce CAD designs, and become familiar with the slicing program.
Knowing the printer and 3D Software are on one side..another side of the 3d Printing Business is to print the selected Objects in any 3D printer.
Printing is no Brainer, I agree but printing a good Quality 3d Object has a bit of a Learning curve. There are many things to consider & learn like slicing software, how to create the support, how to wash & cure and so. Trust me it’s not Rocket science You can spend a day or 2 with a few Youtube Videos.. Voila, here you go..
I’ll explain how I 3d printed the Miniatures using Nomad Sculpt, Lychee Software, and Anycubic 3D printer.
Below are the steps and a 3D print I just made recently and Captured the flow.
Let’s assume, you selected to print on AnyCubic Photon Mono ( for Miniatures). Let’s again assume you created an Object let’s say Robot On Nomad Sculpt. So, Now let’s print the miniature Robot on an Anycubic Photon 3D printer.
Quick Steps for 3D printing using Anycubic Photon Mono
- Select the sculpt to 3d print on Nomad Sculpt
- Bring the selected sculpt on LYCHEE and Slice it on LYCHEE Software[ Download LYCHEE Software ]
- Export to USB
- Plug the USB onto the 3D printer
- Complete Leveling of 3D printer
- Add your selected Resin
- Fix the Exposure settings
- And let the 3D printing Begin(It takes Hours depending on the size of the sculpt)
- After printing wash it with Alchohol( IPA) and clean it in warm water
- Remove supports
- CURE your 3d Object using Anycubic Wash & Cure station
- Your model is ready to be Painted.
Which Software is Best For 3D Modelling or 3D Sculpting?
The use of 3D models is essential to the process of 3D printing. Making exceptional 3D prints calls for a high level of precision as well as talent at a very high level.
Additionally, 3D modeling software makes it simple for users to transform their own thoughts and ideas into tangible 3D models, which can then be printed when the necessary preparations have been made.
On the basis of your objectives, the following is a list of some of the 3D modeling software that you will need to consider learning…
I know its a long list… but You can select the one which you have an interest in
- Adobe Substance 3D — Best 3D modeling software overall (Editor’s Choice)
- Maya— One of the most powerful and versatile 3D modeling tools
- Nomad Sculpt – The best On-the-Go iPad Digital Sculpt App
- Adobe Dimension— An easy-to-use 3D software for simple product design
- Fusion 360 — best free software for CAD/CAM users
- Houdini— One of the most popular software used in the film industry
- Autodesk 3DS Max— Best 3D modeling software for products and industrial use
- Modo — One of the best software for texturing and rendering
- Blender— Best free 3D software tool overall
- Z Brush— The best 3D sculpting software
- Hexagon— A free versatile design tool
- Daz Studio— A powerful and reliable 3D design software
- Lightwave 3D – Best Production-Proven Sci-fi 3D Design Software
3D Software that I use for my 3D Sculpts
Practicing your 3D sculpting
Nomad Sculpt is what I use for my 3D creatives. Even though I am proficient to use Zbrush & Autodesk Maya( another Industry standard 3d software), I prefer Nomad Sculpt because it’s On the Go and I can Sculpt on my fave iPad. OK! You can use ZBrush as well but for a beginner or a newbie, Zbrush has a Steeper learning curve. So, I would prefer Nomad Sculpt.
Blender is an alternative free software with sculpting skills. It is incredibly popular and capable of fulfilling all of your business needs.
Personally, I do not use Blender due to the fact that I began 3D modeling in Maya before switching to Nomad Sculpt. Because Blender is quite different and I am a creature of habit, I prefer to stick with these two applications rather than learning a third one. I have no desire to learn a new UI.
The best courses, certifications, and training for 3D printing
To learn more about how 3D printing works, people must take courses that are right for their level of knowledge. These are the courses that are good for people at all levels, from beginners to experts.
Udemy has courses and tutorials on 3D printing.
Udemy is known for its useful courses that are easy to understand with the help of video lessons. From such a well-known website, you can be sure to get the best information about 3D printing.
The courses are easy to understand and are made for students of all skill levels. The best part is that the one for a beginner doesn’t need any skills you already have. You can use the course to get a job in the field or prepare for exams and certifications.
With a full lifetime membership, you can listen to lectures, read articles, and download resources. The cost of the course is very low and easy to handle.
Coursera has certifications and degrees in 3D printing.
If you want to improve your 3D printing skills, you can choose from about 20 different options. This is also made for people of all skill levels.
You can look for levels of programs that are split up by how hard they are.
You get to do a lot of exercises that help you learn about the subject. The due dates are flexible, so you can finish when it’s easiest for you.
After the courses, you take tests that give you a certificate for the course you took.
Where do you think the 3D printing business will be in ten years?
Among the new 3D printing technologies I’ve seen so far, the new printer is made by Voxel at Voxel8.co is one of the things I’m most excited about. This printer can use both plastic ink and ink that conducts electricity. That means you can print your electrical circuit right into the part, so you don’t have to do as much wiring or soldering. I can see how this would be good for people who make drones and for people who like to fly them as a hobby.
I think this trend will keep going because being able to print a composite part is one of the best things about FDM printing. Right now, companies in China are 3D printing houses with cement. I could see them adding wiring, insulation, etc. as they go along within 10 years.
3D printing will always be a hobbyist’s best friend, so it’s safe to say that this will keep happening and get cheaper.
One of the most important uses of 3D printing will always be to make prototype parts on demand. Over the next 10 years, the big test will be whether or not technology can improve to the point where 3D-printed parts are as cheap and take as long to make as injection-molded parts. At the moment, there’s no doubt that injection molding is still the best way to make a lot of things.
Also, the kinds of things that can be 3D printed are getting bigger. Along with ABS and other more traditional materials, there are now also materials made of rubber, wood, and cement.
I also think that 3D printing will be used more and more in food markets. Chocolate 3D printers are being made by Hershey’s and a few other big companies right now. I also know of other printers that can print on frosting and other materials that are used to decorate.
3D printing is also going to play a big role in exploring and living in space. We now have the technology to print parts on the space station. Talk about ways to save time and money. One day, 3D-printed parts could save lives in colonies that don’t have any other way to get them.
As time goes on, 3D printing will become even more important to people who work in product design and engineering. Now that I have a 3D printer, it’s already paid for itself, and I’m optimistic about the future.
Time to Launch your 3D printing Business
Preparing for Launch
When you have created & Printed approximately 10-12 Objects you can begin marketing your campaign.
Create Your 3D Printing Business Marketing Materials
Your 3D printing company will need marketing materials in order to bring in new customers and keep the ones it already has.
The following is a list of the essential marketing materials that you will require:
Marketing is quite difficult. But you can make it easy by following the below steps
Start a website- Get a simple WordPress website and start Blogging about your 3D printing Journey It is vitally important to keep in mind that the appearance and feel of your own website will have an effect on how clients view you.
Websites: Professional 3D printing businesses should have websites that give potential consumers information about the products and/or services they offer, as well as information about the history of the firm and contact information.
Accounts on Social Media: Create accounts on various social media platforms using the name of your firm. Customers and other individuals will have an easier time discovering and interacting with your 3D printing company if it has a presence on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Get your Instagram & Pinterest accounts and relaunch them with the brand name you have chosen for your business. You then start sharing photographs of the printed figurines with pertinent hashtags.
You start following the accounts of other designers, printers, and figure painters. Additionally, I began following similar creators on Twitter, Twitch, and Facebook.
Your brand is essential. You should determine this before launching a project if you wish to be noteworthy.
You also build a Facebook group (not just a page) for your new brand. Facebook’s algorithm typically consumes official page posts and holds them, prisoner, unless you pay for advertising. By forming a group, you increase the likelihood that its members will see your postings in their feed.
I recommend requiring potential members to answer some questions before joining your club in order to screen out spam and troll accounts.
This section is how you gain a solid start.
Make a few of your 3d art available for free download to everyone who subscribed to tour GetResponse – created email. Read How email marketing can help to grow your online Business. You can share this free download on 3D printing Facebook groups.
By giving away this one number, you can get more newsletter sign-ups, and these individuals joined can join your Facebook group. This is Marketing…
Invest some time and effort into designing a professional-looking logo for your 3D printing company. Your company’s stationery, business cards, marketing brochures, and other items will all feature printed versions of your logo.
Customers’ trust in your brand as well as their awareness of it can be increased with the correct logo.
What is the future of 3D printing?
Since the beginning of the 21st century, 3D printing has been all the rage. Even in 2020, you can still say that this amazing technology is still in its early stages. In just a few decades, it has made a lot of progress and changed some of the most important industries and fields around the world.
But is it even half as far along as what was planned? I don’t think we’ve even been able to get 30% of what 3D printers are actually capable of making.
Yes, 3D printers are used in homes, the food industry, the building industry, and the manufacturing units of many other industries. However, the range of what 3D printers can make is so large that we can’t even imagine getting all of it in the next few decades.
So, as far as I can tell, 3D printing has a bright future. Here are a few ways in which this technology will definitely get better over time.
You probably already know about 3D printers that use human cells as ink and can print organs that have been damaged in the body over time. These damaged organs can be replaced with organs that are made with 3D printing, which saves lives.
But even though researchers have been able to print 3D organs for the human body, they still can’t be used in the body. They need to be rethought and changed before they can be used in the human body.
3D Printing medicines
Even though 3D printers make it easy to make pills and other medicines for less money and with less waste, I think this technology is still in its early stages. 3D printing medicines could also lower the cost of making them and the cost of the final product as a whole.
3D House Printed:
I think the best thing to make with a 3D printer would be a house. Big 3D printers can make houses that can be lived in a day, and these are also pretty good. But a house is more than just a concrete building; it has to have all the amenities to be called a real house.
Clothes and shoes that are 3D printed:
Again, this is not a new idea, and many fashion shows around the world have already shown off their best 3D-printed clothes, shoes, and other items.
But the future of this idea is definitely the mass production of products that people use every day and that are also affordable.
Quick Guide to start 3D printing Business as a Freelancer from Home
- Explore the Trends in the market Explore the niche you wish to fill Explore what buyers are seeking to purchase
- Join Facebook groups devoted to the particular Niche in order to engage with consumers and other creators — Additionally, there are a growing number of useful Discord channels.
- Select software to learn how to build printable 3D Objects.
- Discover online resources and tutorials to study the process of making printable figures.
- Determine how to evaluate your 3D printable Objects.
- Create a website for your brand and start Blogging
- Get your brand social Media handles on Pinterest, Instagram & Twitter
- Establish an Online storefront
- Maintain a constant supply of new products to improve your storefront revenue.
- Be open to exploring new markets and styles in your work.
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3D printing the Objects
After finalizing your 3D design, it is time to put your creation into the physical world by using a 3D printer. Before relying on a 3D printer for your business, you should ideally be proficient in its operation (and, if necessary, its repair).
Most likely, you already have a 3D printer, but if you don’t, you should get one that is dependable and produces high-quality prints. Here is the list of 11 Budget Friendly 3d printers
Additionally, it is not a bad idea to have multiple printers. Since 3D printing is a slow process, it is prudent to run multiple printers concurrently to create multiple parts twice as quickly.
If you wish to avoid time-consuming filament or resin changes, you can even have a separate printer for each of your preferred materials.
You can create your Chosen sculpture( Tabletop Miniature) on Nomad sculpt and print it on the Resin printer to market & sell Online. My fave 3D printer is Anycubic Photon Mono X available at Walmart and at Amazon. I also like this Phrozen Sonic Mini 4k( the most Bidget-friendly). Read my article How to Prep 3D models for printing before you attempt to print your Sculpt. Also, Check out my Anycubic Photon Mono X Review