How to Make Money With a 3d Printer?

How to make money with a 3d printer, how much to invest, and what to print on it? Look for the answers in this article.

Many people want to start their own business, but not so many do it. One of the numerous reasons why hundreds of enthusiasts hesitate making their first step into the world of free entrepreneurship is the absence of a business idea. But there are plenty of opportunities for those who seek them.

So, you’ve come up with the idea of making money with a 3d printer. It becomes clearer day by day that this technology is going to rule the world in the future. We already see that 3d-priniting allows creating different objects from souvenirs to weapon and human organs.

That’s why this technology constitutes a matter of supreme interest for entrepreneurs. Today profitability of 3d-printing isn’t very high, but anyway this business has its future.

The question “How to make money with 3d-printers?” is usually made by their newly-minted owners. Along with that they also inquire “What should we know about this technology?” and “What initial investments does it require?” Here are the answers.

What is 3d-priniting?


3d-printing is a method of a layer by layer production of almost any objects – from shoes to jewelry, weapon, and aerospace details.

The main rule of 3d-prininting is that, unlike mechanical treatment (turnery, milling, and sawing – subtractive methods), it is a type of additive production.

All printed 3d-objects are made of layers.

A 3d-printer begins to print from the first, lowest layer, waits until it dries or, so to say, solidifies, and then moves upwards. Such process of layering can vary and depend on the printer and the materials used.

There are several technologies used in 3d-prinitng that differ by principles of shaping a 3-dimension product. The main of them are:

  1. Ink-jet printing:

    • quick consolidation of materials on cooling;
    • hardening of plastic in ultraviolet rays;
    • agglutination of powder-like materials (e. g. of milled cellulose);
    • agglutination of thick ceramic mixtures (used for the production of large objects).
  2. Laser printing:

    • laser alloying (metal or plastic powder is alloyed);
    • laminating (agglutination of several layers of the material used in the production of a figure);
    • stereolithography (gradual postcuring of liquid polymer which becomes hard plastic).

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How to select a 3d-printer and what to know about this technology for making money with it?


  1. Price.

    I wouldn’t recommend you to buy a cheap 3d-printer ($ 1500) with limited functions. It’s better to make souvenirs on quality printers costing not less than $ 50–60 thousand.

    The advantage of all 3d-printer models is that you can print on them using plaster powder that can take any colouring you need.

  2. Support of different types of plastic.

    ABC-plastic for common 3d-printers is made of petroleum products, and PLA-plastic is made of renewable materials (corn or sugar cane).

    The second type of plastic is used for making plastic dishes and toys for children. ABC-plastic is more temperature-resistant and durable.

    But when making your choice, better give preference to a model supporting both types of plastic threads.

  3. Diameter of the printing nozzle.

    Maximum print definition is important for every printer.

    Even today, the market offers common 3d-printers that can print very smooth products with a line invisible for a man’s eye (50 microns).

    A printer with a 250-micron line is cheap, while a model with a 100-micron line is sufficient for common use. Besides, lower quality printing is less time-consuming.

  4. Size restrictions of the ready product.

    Cheap 3d-printers print details of a size up to 12 cubic centimeters.

    A printer for $ 3000 can produce details of a volume up to 30 cubic centimeters and weighing less than 5 kilograms.

    Consider the ability of produced items to assemble or adhere from several details. This fact considerably favours the possibility of getting beyond the limits of a maximal 3d-print size.

  5. Multicolour print.

    This option is available only for the most expensive models of 3d-printers. They have several printing heads combining colours in the process of work.

  6. Design skills.

    Most clients will come to you not with ready digital blueprints, but with drafts, physical objects for cloning, and even mere ideas. Consequently, you will need certain design skills which, of course, can be included in the ready products’ cost.

    Are you anything but a designer? Then cooperate. You will never fall short of students-designers willing to gain some money and experience. Yours is the device and the service, theirs is the design.

What can you print with a 3d-printer to start your business?

  1. Exclusive accessorizes:

    • contemporary design cases for smartphones and tabs;
    • exclusive key-chains (with logos, animals, feng shui elements, and what not);
    • business-card holders;
    • souvenir jewelry boxes.
  2. Souvenirs:

    • miniatures of outstanding architectural creations;
    • miniatures of sculptures and engineering constructions;
    • mini-copies of people, created after their photos;
    • bijouterie (nice rings, bracelets, and so on).
  3. Means for fashion designers:

    • you can use your 3d-printer for producing shoes with unique design;
    • garment accessories (stylish buttons or snappers);
    • various hair grips, hair binders, crowns, and so on.
  4. Exclusive toys for children:

    • cartoon and computer games characters;
    • cores for flocking and creating toy animals;
    • details of complicated constructions and mechanisms for building up a single big toy;
    • model kits.
  5. Household items:

    • exclusive, variously shaped dishes;
    • elements of interior decoration;
    • unique furniture fittings;
    • unique assembles of children’s furniture.
  6. Duplicates of broken or worn-out details.

  7. Educational stands:

    • car parts;
    • molecular models;
    • DNA structure;
    • human body;
  8. Arrangement of exterior advertising.

    Besides, the expansion of 3d-printing increases the demand for learning how to use these devices.
    Thus, you can build your business on seminars and courses in assembling and setup of 3d-printers, as well as their operational use.
    Of course, you can use your 3d-printer for that.

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How to sell products made on a 3d-printer?

Experts are unanimous in regards of 3d-printed products sale: exclusively via Internet.

Such distribution implies the existence of a website. You can order it from web-developers or create by yourself by means of modern wide-spread website builders.

How much do I have to invest in profitable 3d-printing?

Production of exclusive souvenirs upon request or your own original models is the most popular way of making money with the help of 3d-printer. Thus, thinking about the start of your business, better move in this direction.

Today the market of online trade is fully evolved and ensures fast-developing Internet sales. To implement your idea, invest money in advertising. Also you can open a traditional souvenir gift shop selling both printed figures and usual souvenirs.

Your initial budget will constitute:

  • $ 50–60 thousand for a 3d-printer;
  • $ 25 thousand for expendables;
  • a monthly rent for a production works room (defined individually in every case);
  • wages for a man engaged in printing or investment in respective education to manage without hiring;
  • website development and advertising investments: about $ 2–3.

Today many people buy souvenirs for their family, colleagues, and friends. Printed memories are really the most unusual presents we can receive, that’s why, developing in this direction, you can soon figure out how to make money with a 3d-printer and start doing it right away.

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