3D Printing Opportunities: Making money from 3D printers

3D printers can make you many things, but one you may not of realized is money.

For those savvy to the new technology, 3D printers provide many benefits and uses for both large and small scale businesses.

Opportunities exist both through the direct use of 3D printers and the creation and supply of 3D printing based accessories, information and services.

 

Services.

With any new technology or industry comes a wealth of possible businesses to accompany and complement the new field. When iPhones exploded onto the scene, so did a mass of products and companies whose offerings ranged from simple custom phone cases and ringtones to highly sophisticated applications and games. The same applies with 3D printers. For those with the right eye for opportunity, businesses can still be built around 3D printers, regardless of whether you own one or not.

 

3D Model Creation and Preparation.

This technology is amazing! Anyone can make just about anything, assuming of course that you have (or can make) the 3D model for what you want to print. For most people, current software can have quiet a steep learning curve, so don't expect everyone to be designing and building their own 3D models just yet. True; scanners are becoming cheaper (and 3D software is becoming easier to use), but complex, accurate models or custom designs will be needed to be ‘modeled' for the foreseeable future. After all, you can't scan what has never been made before.

 

Online, On Demand Stores.

Using third party services like Shapeways can make opening your own online 3D printing store simple. For those of us who are able to build (or pay someone to build) our own one-off 3D models, the setting up of an on-demand store is easy. For example, artists who create jewelry can model their designs in 3D software, upload the mesh to their 3D store and Shapeways takes care of the printing and shipping. As the designer, you receive a percentage of each sale and importantly, hold no inventory and have almost no overhead.

 

3D Scanning.

For those people looking for opportunities offline, 3D scanning could offer an interesting route. ‘Walk in' 3D scanning stores (or even mobile booths) could give people quick and easy access to 3D scanners and allow people to scan things ‘every now and then' without the larger cost of buying a scanner of their own.

 

Directly Using 3D Printers.

 

Art 3D Prints.

For many Artists, 3D printing has offered a way to make highly complex and beautiful sculptures and ornaments. If you're creative (and have a 3D printer) you can design, print and sell your artwork online, all from your own home or office. As with an online store with Shapeways, each order could be printed ‘on demand', requiring you to hold stock of printing materials, but not final products. This is an important factor for cost reduction and makes opening your own all in one studio, factory and store easier than ever.

 

Demo Videos.

3D printing can seem at first like something from a sci-fi movie. From designing and building 3D models, to preparing and printing them – it can be a daunting process. With your own 3D printer, you could record and edit your own 3D printing tutorials. From gaining advertising revenues from YouTube, to recording and selling entire courses teaching others how to use 3D printers, money can be made from those wanting to learn about 3D printing.