How to Make Money with 3D Printing

Have you ever tried to convince yourself or someone else that buying a 3D printer is a wise investment because you’ll use it to make money? You’re not alone. Based on our estimate, 95% of all spousal and parental debaters on this topic used the wise investment argument.

Maybe you legitimately want to use 3D printing for commercial applications and are researching ways to make it happen. If that’s the case, good for you! Feel free to skip down to the outline below.

Or maybe, like many others, you just wanted that shiny new toy and used the ole investment trope to trick your loved ones into allowing you to buy a 3D printer. Only now, you feel guilty and want to do something about it.

Perhaps you bought a 3D printer without running it by your financial overlord, because sometimes it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, but now you need to deliver something that resembles progress on your half-baked entrepreneurial endeavor to avoid further hardship.

What if I told you there’s actually a way to turn this impulsive purchase into a lucrative venture? That’s right, not only is that 3D printer a fun and fascinating new toy, but you can use it to make real cash. Not by printing actual money, of course, that would be illegal and probably not feasible. But seriously, let’s not feel guilty about that shiny new printer, because today you’re going to learn how 3D printers can be turned into money-making machines, from side-hustle strategies to industrial applications.

Part-Time Work & Side Hustles

  1. Customized products: 3D printing allows people to create customized products such as phone cases, jewelry, toys, and home decor items for customers on demand. People have succeeded in popular niches such as:
    • Cosplay and prop-making: Use 3D printing to create detailed and accurate cosplay props and costumes for sale or rental.
    • Gaming accessories: Gamers can use 3D printing to create customized and unique gaming accessories such as controllers, figurines, and even entire game boards.
    • Trinkets and Jewelry: Use 3D Printing to create key-chains, coasters, ear rings, bracelets, pendants for necklaces, etc.
    • Mold Casting: Use 3D Prints as molds, or as the object to be molded. This allows the design to be copied a variety of ways using resin, plaster, metal, silicon, wax, paper mache, etc. Not only does this provide a way to produce more items without tying up the 3D printer, but also expands the possible types of products that can be made by allowing a wider range of materials to be used.
  2. 3D printing services: Individuals can offer their 3D printing services to others for a fee. This can include printing prototypes, figurines, or even architectural models.
  3. Etsy or Shapeways Shops: People can use platforms like Etsy or Shapeways to sell 3D printed products or designs, either as a side hustle or as a full-time business.

Small Businesses and Specialists

  1. Medical applications: 3D printing is increasingly being used in the medical industry for prosthetics, dental implants, and even organ replacement.
  2. 3D Printing Farms: 3D printing services, but on a larger scale. This involves running a large collection of 3D Printers to provide small to medium scale manufacturing solutions.
  3. Education: 3D printing can be used in education to create models and visual aids for teaching and learning.
  4. Food industry: 3D printing can be used to create customized and visually appealing food products, such as chocolate and cake decorations.
  5. Art and sculpture: Artists can use 3D printing to create sculptures and installations that would be difficult or impossible to create using traditional methods.

Commercial and Industrial Use Cases

  1. Industrial prototypes: 3D printing can be used for creating prototypes, saving time and money compared to traditional methods.
  2. Energy sector: 3D printing can be used to create efficient and lightweight parts for wind turbines and solar panels.
  3. Customized manufacturing: Companies can use 3D printing to produce customized manufacturing parts and products at a low cost. 3D printers can easily adapt to change using software, where many other manufacturing processes must be changed using hardware, making custom parts cost prohibitive.
  4. Aerospace and defense: 3D printing is used to manufacture parts for aircraft and satellites, as well as for producing spare parts on demand.
  5. Automotive: 3D printing can be used to create prototypes, tooling, and customized parts for cars and other vehicles.
  6. Construction: 3D printing can be used to build houses, bridges, and other large-scale structures at a faster and cheaper rate compared to traditional construction methods.
  7. Architecture: Architects can use 3D printing to create architectural models and designs for clients, as well as for creating molds for building materials.