How Can You Make Money With A 3D Printer?
One of the biggest hurdles that you need to overcome to get into 3D printing to begin with is the upfront cost. As far as hobbies go, 3D printing is not exactly known for being cheap. Not only can 3D printers cost hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars, you also need to buy filament, 3D modeling software, STL files, and more.
So how do you go from spending all this money just to get started 3D printing to actually making money with a 3D printer?
It’s simple — just start printing things that you can sell! Now we know that it isn’t that easy, and coming up with things that you can actually sell and make money on is no small feat. But once you come up with a few things that you can sell, it does get very easy. Because once you have the STL file for any given product, you can print it around the clock and just keep selling it.
So the first thing that you’ll need to do is come up with something unique and interesting enough to actually garner attention from prospective customers. There are people all over the world getting into 3D printing things from home to make money, so you need to offer something different that people will actually want to buy.
If you can’t necessarily come up with an entirely new product to create and sell on your own, the other option is to make something popular. But just make it better than the other options out there. If you can improve on the design of something that sells well already, you can carve out a nice little niche for yourself and start selling products of your own.
But as we mentioned, figuring out a product (or a line of products) that are going to sell is only the first step. Then you need to actually start selling them.
Where Can You Sell 3D Printed Items?
With the internet, you have the ability to sell things to anywhere in the world, from anywhere in the world. No matter where you’re printing these items from, you can potentially sell them all over the planet and ship them out to your customers. And with an online business model like this, you don’t need to have a store or keep inventory.
Instead, you can simply print out whatever items you’re wanting to sell, post them on various sites or in various locations online, and let the internet work its magic. But where can you sell your products online?
There are all sorts of places to sell D printed objects online, and many of them are the same places that you’d sell just about anything else online as well. Here are our favorites (keep in mind you can list things for sale on as many of these sites as you want):
- Your own website — we always recommend starting your own website and selling directly from there. On your own site, you get to make all the decisions and don’t need to share any profits with the actual host of the site (since it’s you!).
- Etsy — a site pretty much made for selling your own designs and creations, Etsy is the perfect platform for selling 3D printed items.
- Amazon — as one of the biggest companies in the world, Amazon is a safe way to sell your 3D printed items without fear of any sort of scams or deceit. Using the Amazon marketplace, you can list your items for sale and people all over the world can buy them. Beware of higher fees and commissions compared to other sites though.
- Fiverr — unlike some of the other places we’ve discussed before this one, Fiverr is a little different. Instead of just listing your products for sale here, this site enables you to sell your services. Meaning on Fiverr, you can get hired by people looking for specific items to be made, and you can use your printer to create the item for them.
So now that you know where you can sell them, there’s one thing left to do before you start mass-producing your ticket to riches.
Marketing 3D Printed Items For Sale
That’s right, you might need to do some sort of marketing for our products to draw attention and start getting some customers. There are all sorts of ways to do this, but one of the easiest is by using social media. You can very easily start a social media page just for your 3D printing business where you show off your designs and what you have to offer.
Then on the profile, make sure to link to the site that you’re selling your products from. Our favorite way to do this is by using Etsy and Pinterest. Pinterest itself is basically a way to advertise your products and you can link directly to the page on Etsy where that particular product can be purchased.
If you’re able to successfully create a social media presence for your 3D printing stuff that starts to gain a real following, you might be surprised at how quickly it can grow into something special.
What Are The Best Things To 3D Print And Sell?
Now that you have a little better idea about how you can make money with a 3D printer, let’s get into the good stuff. Here are some ideas of things you can 3D print and sell from home to get you started.
We mentioned this one briefly above when we discussed Fiverr, but working on commission is one of the best ways to make money with 3D printing. On sites like Fiverr and Upwork, people will post jobs that they’re looking for freelancers to be able to complete, and they’ll pay for the service.
With the ability to use 3D modeling to take a design from inception to the computer screen, and then using your 3D printer to pop out a physical object, you can create anything for anyone. Custom orders will typically provide some of the highest profit margins of any type of 3D printing sales since people are willing to pay higher prices to get the exact item that they want.
So alongside all of the other items below, we strongly suggest you take a look at freelance 3D printing. You might be surprised at how much money you can make!
Props From Movies or Video Games
The movie and video game industries are some of the biggest in the world. And they also have some of the most reliable fandoms of any industry in the world. This creates an opportunity for you to 3D print props and items from the movies and video games and people will be willing to pay high prices for them.
There are two main things to keep in mind if you take this route. First, you want to make high-quality replicas of the props. The higher the quality, the more you’ll be able to sell them for. Die-hard fans won’t buy something that doesn’t look right! Second, be careful with copyright laws here.
You might not legally be allowed to reproduce items from some movies or video games for financial compensation. So just be careful and look into what you’re planning on printing before you start selling it!
Miniature Statuettes and Figurines
3D printing miniatures is one of the favorite pastimes of 3D printing hobbyists. While many people will use tabletop 3D printers to print miniatures for themselves, it also presents a great opportunity for you to make some extra money. Keep in mind the same copyright stuff with this category, however, just to be safe!
But this category of 3D printing has nearly limitless possibilities on what you can make any sell. Anything from characters from movies and video games to other pop culture icons and even sports figures. You can print and sell just about anything as a miniature statuette or figurine!
Plant Pots and Vases
People LOVE putting plants up around their homes. Whether real or artificial, indoor and outdoor house plants have blown up in popularity in recent years. With this in mind, you can make some extra money by designing and printing plant pots and vases.
We’ve all seen those red clay pots that people have plants in all over their homes. How boring, right? Instead, use your creativity and 3D printing abilities to design custom pots and vases that people will love. These will fly off the shelves!
If you’ve ever scrolled through Pinterest or Etsy, you’ve undoubtedly seen all sorts of custom jewelry listed for sale. That’s because people love buying unique jewelry that they can’t find anywhere else.
Most of what you see on these sites is hand-made, and it takes the creators a long time to make them. With a 3D printer, you can create all sorts of custom jewelry in relatively little time. This makes jewelry a great way to
3D Building Models
In modern architecture, engineering, and construction, creating 3D models of buildings using CAD software is standard practice. While these 3D drawings and computer models of the buildings are incredibly useful, some firms will pay good money to have a physical 3D copy of the building printed out.
That’s where you come in. If you can find some architecture firms out there looking for 3D models of their buildings, you can make some easy money. This is a really good one because they do all the design work for you, you just need to print it out!
This one might not give you a bunch of money year-round, but if you can come up with a popular ornament design that people will want to buy, you’ll be able to make some serious cash around the holidays!
People love decorating for Christmas, and the staple of the popular winter holiday is the Christmas tree. Most people just go to the store and buy the same ornaments that everyone else has. This gives you an opportunity to create something unique that will garner attention.
A decade or so ago, we would’ve scoffed at the idea of affordable 3D printing as well as basically everyone having a smartphone in their pocket at all times. But alas, that’s the world we live in today.
With pretty much everyone having a smartphone, customization of them is a huge market. People want to make their phones unique to them while also protecting them. With a 3D printer, you can make some good money by creating custom cases for the popular smartphone models out there.
Board Game Pieces
Most board game pieces are fairly simple in their own right. Small plastic figurines with very few features or details, perfect for affordable family fun on game night. But with 3D printing, you can spice things up and make your own board game pieces.
Forget the normal chess pieces, print a new set with any theme that you want. Print out some new checkers instead of the standard black and red pieces. Any board game out there, you can print out new pieces and start carving out a niche for yourself as the board game piece creator.