I have often wondered, if you can earn money from 3D printing. In this post, I will offer some ways in which you might be able to make some money. How much? Well I can’t say, it’s up to you, and how far you are prepared to go to make your point, and hopefully some money.
Let’s talk about what you have to make money from 3D printing. First off, you are not going to want to produce hundreds of parts for some grateful business. You must have realised by now that 3D printing is not the fastest of manufacturing techniques. With most parts taking one to two hours to complete, you need another plan.
It’s not that you can’t make that particular idea work. I’m sure you could find someone who would use your services. But you will need to purchase at least another ten 3D printers to keep up with even a relatively small order. No, what we need to look for are gaps in the market, that are relativity easy to turn from conception, printing, and payment. You might, depending on the direction of your labours, need a fairly good working knowledge of a particular CAD package. But this is easier than you think. Have a read through and see which one takes your fancy, then start coining it in. I will give you some ideas, you pick one. Then you go off, and earn big bucks. Then we meet back here and you share the takings with me? That’s a grand idea yes?
First a word from our legal team
3D printable objects might be covered by IP rights, owned by another person. Therefore, printing these items, may infringe those rights. For instance, the look of a 3D printed object might be protected by an existing design patent. And if the item that you are printing is an artistic work like an ornate vase or sculpture, then you could be infringing another’s copyright. Play it safe and design your own work. By all means, look at someone else’s work, but look with an eye to improve, rather than to copy. To enhance rather than to steel. Inspiration, not imitation.
Making things for other people
You would only need one 3D printer for this little cash cow. The idea is that you could advertise locally in your area. As being able to make gadgets, and items for other people. As I said before, once you have a 3D printer, you are limited only by your own imagination as to what you can make with it. But, with this idea, you are asking other people who may not have a 3D printer, but do have the imagination. They will furnish you with ideas that you can then go off, and make. You could sit down with them, documenting their precise requirements. Then you make their idea into physical form.
You might need a good working knowledge of the particular CAD package, that you plan on using to manifest your creation, but this idea could definitely earn you some money. At least so you can pay for your filament habit.
Redesign an everyday object
Let’s take the humble “clothes peg” for instance. I was only looking at a lady who was buying these in a local supermarket, the other day. I thought to myself, “When was the last time that had a makeover in design terms” This might sound really silly, but think about it. If you could redesign an everyday object, to be better, or have two uses rather than the one it was originally designed with. You could really capture the market. Look around you, what do you see as needing to be redesigned and made better.
Here again, this idea has potential. We all know a tradesman or tradeswoman. They will have knowledge of things that would make their lives and their jobs much easier. I bet most of their needs can’t be found in a shop. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start talking to these skilled people. On top of that, the chance of copping a repeat order is magnified tenfold.
3d printing movie props
We all love the movies; other people love the movies. What’s better than to have something made from their favourite movie. You may need to check up on “Copyright” but as long as you are not selling that part as an original and linked in any way to the actual film, you should be safe. Just make sure you stipulate this. You should be fine. As always, check that what you are planning on producing does not cross any lines with the different companies who own the rights to that item.
I made a wristband for someone. They wanted a wristband to put their door fob in. The idea was that they could wear it, then, as they went from room to room, where they worked. All they had to do was to put their hand up against the reader. Saved them fumbling in their pockets for the fob. I did what they asked, and it looked really good. Not at all cumbersome, but, as they said, not a great colour. Could I do something else? I decided to print it again, but this time, I did it in gold filament. I then gave it a little clean up, and then found an old tin of silver spray paint. I sprayed it on, only little bits though. Along the edges, and then ran some really fine sand-paper, over those edges, so it looked like it was a bronze and tin, metal colour, looked rather antique. I then sprayed it with a lacquer, a dull one. Perfect, and they loved it.
You could do this, you can play with an idea that you might have in your head, design it. Have complete control over how it looks. Post a picture or two to your Instagram account, and get feedback. Ask on Facebook for things that people would like to wear if they could design something themselves. In the way of say, jewellery, or ornaments for handbags, clasps for scarves, and see what comes back. You don’t have to say anything. Just go and create, perfect, then when you think you have done your design proud, post some pictures. Get feedback, then go back and change things based on the ideas you have, from other people’s opinions. Don’t change your design based on what others want to see, stay true to your original idea. Then keep doing that till you get people who like that design. Play with the final object, paint it, or buy some different coloured filament and see what it looks like in another colour. Then try to sell it to those people who liked it. Offer to make theirs’s different in some way, make it more personal.
If there is one thing that 3D printers can do rather well, it seems to be lamp shades. Maybe it’s the shape, or the fact that the lampshade is a great object for a 3D printer’s hot end to follow. I’m not sure. One thing I do know, is that you can make these too. Again, it’s only your imagination that’s going to get in your way of designing fabulous things. Take the following for instance seen Here This is a shadow lamp shade. I think this one costs a couple of thousands, of your earth pounds. Could you do any better??
Car badges, vintage car parts, that are no longer available (not stress or metal parts obviously) Many classic and vintage car parts, cost a left Kidney these days. Many people are just as happy to buy something that looks almost real, as long as it’s reflected in the price and the description. Also remember, once you’ve invested time into the design, and got it just so, any future order is going to be money in the bank. New car parts, and here I’m talking about things like cup holders and such like. BMW M4 cup holder? £60!? Mostly plastic with a spring or two. Design your own and see who likes it. I know which one I’d rather have. Plus, you can offer them in a multitude of colours.
Sell your own creations on Etsy and eBay
This doesn’t need much explaining, except… Make sure what you sell is your own idea. Don’t go ripping off other people’s designs. Not that you would, but it’s very easy get caught up in someone else’s issues. What I mean by that, is that, should you design something that someone else thinks are their designs, you need to be able to show them proof that what is yours, is indeed yours.
As long as you have the original design and can prove it’s your design, you’re ok. But with the right spark of imagination, you can make a lot of money, selling your own creations.
3D printed things for the home
A Michigan Technological University researcher, did a little rummaging around. He did a “life cycle economic analysis on 3D printing” In the study, he and his team, chose 20 common household items listed on Thingiverse. Then they used Google Shopping, to determine the maximum and minimum cost of buying those 20 items online, shipping charges not include (wonder if he had Amazon Prime??) Anyway, he then calculated how much they would be if you made them with 3D printers. His findings state, that if you brought them, it would have cost you between £240 to £1,498.
But, had you made them at home. With your own 3D printer it would have cost about £13, and would have taken a weekend!?
Vases, picture hooks, Flip-flops, coasters, ornaments, decorations, measuring spoons, cookie cutters, phone cases, shower heads, clothing, sink plugs, cases for small items, PC cases the likes of which have yet to be seen. Finger forks, coffee pod, holders, beard sizers and straight liners. Christmas tree decorations, Birthday presents, headphone stands, picture frames, butt plugs and dildos.
Yes, you can make them all when you have a 3D printer. Some things you will never want to make. Other things are just waiting for you to think of them, so they can tumble out of that beautiful mind of yours. So, what are you waiting for??