The increasing popularity and accessibility of 3D printing technology has given rise to 3D printing based businesses around the world. Creative entrepreneurs can now buy a professional grade printer with little investment and turn it into a small business.
A decent 3D printer such as the da Vinci Pro or the Nobel 1.0A SLA 3D Printer costs about SGD 2,000 to 4000, which is a modest investment for a budding entrepreneur. Of course a sound business model, well-planned execution strategy and good customer service are other essentials that one cannot ignore to make his or her venture a success.
In this post, let’s introduce you to 5 tested business ideas that you can develop and grow into a rewarding business.
1. Modelling and Design Services
3D printers are useless without 3D geometry files, which are the design files typically used in the OBJ and STL format. However, many 3D printer owners, especially “at-home” makers are not good at modelling and designing. This is where you come in.
If you’re good at designing and have experience working with any of the popular 3D Printing Software tools such as FreeCAD, Netfabb Basic, etc. then you can start selling your design files. There are a number of marketplaces where you can start, such as:
- 3D Burrito: Sell all kinds of 3D designs at your prices. For each sale you have to pay a 30% fee to the company.
- Azavy: Another trending marketplace for 3D designs that is based on a bidding system. The customers bid for their desired 3D designs and you can sell to the highest bidders.
- Turbosquid: Offers an elaborate business model. You can earn up to 80% royalties on each Turbosquid-only exclusive sale, or sell non-exclusively for up to 55%.
2. Selling 3D Printer Hardware
Looking for something simple and straight-forward? ….go about selling the hardware itself. This can work for you even if you have limited knowledge about 3D printing. As long as you stay up to date with the latest 3D printing technologies and trending consumables you won’t have a problem selling your merchandise. 3D Printing hardware can be divided into –
- Printing Machines: Offer a decent selection of entry-level and professional range of consumer grade 3D printers that you can sell to individuals and educational institutes.
- Consumables: These include printing materials such as plastics (PLA, nylon, ABS, etc.), photosensitive resins, and composite materials (Kevlar, carbon fibre, etc.).
- Accessories: These include products that aid in printing and post processing of 3D prints. Examples include masking tape (for improved print adhesion), glues, knives and cutters (for polishing), etc.
3. 3D Printing Service Bureau
3D printing has a variety of applications. However, the problem with 3D printing is that not everyone needs to print frequently, and it’s not practical to buy an expensive 3D printer for printing once in a while. Thus, you can start your own 3D printing service bureau and print for others for a fee. Of course, to start the business you’ll need a few category of printers which you can find online, and for others you can buy them from the appointed reseller.
You can also partner with other companies such as 3D Hubs where you can sell your printing service online.
4. Selling Jewellery, Fashion Accessories, etc.
If you are the creative kind with a good fashion sense, then its absolutely possible to have your own jewellery and fashion accessories and create a unique brand! …from 3D printed necklaces to 3D printed shoes there is no limit to what you can produce with any standard 3D printer.
Take the example of Danit Peleg, a 3D printing enthusiast who printed her entire graduate fashion collection all at her home 🙂
There are all kinds of 3D printing materials that you can use for fashion accessories such as flexible plastic material, mesostructured cellular materials, and even metals such as bronze, silver, gold, etc. Marketplaces such as Etsy are ideal places where you can sell your products.
As is the case with all the apparel producers, you will have to come off as a unique brand that creates a distinct style. There is no dearth of fashion companies in the industry, which is why you have to stand out if you want to sell your products.
5. Teach 3D Printing
3D printing is trending, but it is still quite new a technology. There are many people who want to learn about it so but don’t have the resources or mentors to guide them. If you think you can be a good teacher, then you can start offering comprehensive 3D printing courses online and even offline. Although you will get more success from the former, preferably via video courses.
3D printing is not only a powerful technology that also has a variety of applications. With a modest investment, easy to learn skills and a bit of creativity you can capitalize on this emerging trend and make a small enterprise around it!