Is 3D Printing A Good Business?

There are countless business models that don’t work out when they’re put to action. Then again, most business start-ups fail within 5 years or fewer, not because of the product or service but rather because of the way in which the business is run. In this article, we’ll show you how 3D printing can be a very lucrative and successful business to run.

3D printing is a good business because it’s a growing industry that has countless applications. With all the possibilities of 3D printing, you can focus on any niche you desire. From trinkets and toys to car parts and chess sets, if you market your business well, there’s plenty of opportunity.

The success of any business relies on how the owners run the business. Although “bad” business ideas do exist, 3D printing is not one of them.

Green dollar

3D Printing From Home Or Retail Space

Deciding on the location for your business is vitally important. It’s all about your business’s exposure to potential customers.

Home Office

Running the business from home has some clear advantages. If you didn’t know, some projects can take 24 hours or longer to print, so if you need to replace filament, you can do so at any time, even 3am in the morning.

Monitoring advantage

You can also keep a close eye on the print as it may run into problems forcing you to restart the whole thing. Better to restart a print 1 hour in, as opposed to the next morning when you find out things went wrong. You’ll save on time and materials if you do everything at home.

Potentially larger market to sell to

Of course you can still market your products to people online while operating from a retail space, but the chances are, if you’re running a physical store, you’ll have less time to focus on the online potential.

3d printer vibration

Retail Space

Being in a retail space is very beneficial for exposure/advertising.

Sparks new interest in consumers

3D printing has so many possibilities that most people aren’t aware of. So when they walk past your shop and see something they haven’t seen before, they might be interested in making a purchase. Once there are people inside your store that didn’t plan on coming in, you can educate them about what you can print, show them examples and impress them.

Chance to focus on specific people

If you choose a retail space, display your most eye-catching items in view of people walking past. Use all the tactics you can to get people into your store. Bright colors will help as well. Make your store stand out amongst the rest.

A Few 3D Printing Business Ideas

We don’t think that a 3D printing business should try to do everything, there are just too many areas to focus on. There are thousands or areas you could focus on, but if you’re new to all this, here are a few random examples.

3d gear

Cell Phone And Tablet Covers

Printing cell phone, tablet, and other protective covers can be extremely lucrative as everyone owns a cell phone. But you can’t just print plain looking covers, be unique and offer customized covers. That’s how you reward customers for purchasing your covers rather than any other. You can print their names on the cover and make other unique designs specifically for the individual buyer.

If you choose to focus on these types of prints, you could also produce related items like headset holders/cases, laptop stands, and more. But you have to make sure that people know you can produce custom covers, otherwise the cheap mass produced covers down the street will kill your business.

Toy Jewelry For Children

This is a good area to focus on in areas with foot traffic that includes children. If you can advertise to the kids walking past, with cool looking jewelry, toy cars and bikes, they’ll be very good at convincing their parents to step inside. Once again, it has to differ from the other toys available to them, unless you’re producing a cheaper version.

Automobile or motorcycle plastic part replacements

There are thousands of car parts that aren’t available anymore. Cars that are a few decades old. With the original damaged part on hand, you can take measurements and recreate it. You might also be able to produce car parts that are substantially cheaper than the originals.

Just keep in mind that 3D printed parts won’t work well under pressure or heat.

Scale model cars

3D printing scale model cars can be very lucrative, you can see some examples of these in most big retail stores. Printing old Jeeps and other green vehicles with green filament will mean you don’t have to paint it. But if you want it to be top quality, you will need to do some brush work. But using different colors of filament appropriate to the vehicle can work out nicely, red filament for a Ferrari and yellow for a Lamborghini. You get the point. This type of print is ideal for time lapse videos.

3D Print Unique Products

If you preprint certain items, make sure they stand out from other products that have the same functionality. If you want to print a vase for some flowers, make it one that stands out from the options in larger retail stores.

If you choose to print kid’s toys or cell phone covers, let the customer decide on the design and custom finishes, that’s where the value is. Anyone can find a cheap plastic cover, finding one with their name or favorite car on it is far more rare.

3d toy

Recycling 3D Filament

As a 3D printing business, you’re going to land up with a lot of wasted materials. Prints that get cancelled and support structures that are removed from the print. Besides all the extra plastic you’ll have to recycle, you can also collect materials from customers who don’t have the means to re-use it themselves. You can even pay a small amount in relation to the weight of the materials they bring.

Filament extruder

This is the machine that melts pellets, shavings, and small bits of plastic and produces a plastic wire for you to feed through your printer. This is your capital cost. The only other considerable expense is the electricity over time. But if you do everything properly, recycling will reduce material costs.

Create Time Lapse Videos Of 3D Prints

3D printing time lapses are quite popular on YouTube. You can record everything you print and post it on social media sites to make some side income. Just speed up the video to create a 1 to 5 minute time lapse of the printing.

How To Niche Down Your 3D Printing Business

A successful 3D printing business rarely tries to print and sell everything and anything they come across. It’s more difficult to gain customers if you aren’t targeting any of them specifically.

For example, if you print anything that’s currently trending, you may land up with a lot of wasted filament and electricity if the trend dies or doesn’t exist in your area. If your business isn’t focused on any specific area of 3D printing, you may not have anything to entice people with. Most people don’t know the true potential of the industry and so 3D printing in itself doesn’t provoke any excitement.

It’s far better to analyze the area you plan to do business in, the types of consumers and how they live life. If you find that people in the area are interested in off-road biking and other outdoor activities, you could focus on printing items that add value to those activities. Like 3D printed cycling helmets or mounting brackets for Go-Pros.

By focusing on specific groups of people, you can spark interest in them when they see your business or business advert. A cyclist will immediately be interested in a 3D printed helmet if you make them aware of it. The same person probably wouldn’t care less if he just saw a 3D Printing Shop with no focus. You have to find areas to connect with different people.

Related Questions

What is a good starter 3d Printer? – I personally like the Ender 3 Pro or the Ender 3 V2. Both are available for under $300 and have a great community around them with people willing to help out if you run into issues.

ender 3 fan upgrade featured image

What is a good filament to use? – I typically use HATCHBOX filament. The price point is about in the middle and quality/accuracy has always been good.

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A 3D printing business has the potential to be very rewarding. The possibilities are endless and you can focus on products that interest you so that you don’t get bored along the way. The technology driving the industry improves at an exponential rate and will be around for the foreseeable future. So you don’t have to worry about the business becoming outdated in years to come.

Having a machine that can print almost anything you can imagine gives you endless possibilities, and you could even design something worth a patent.

3D printing services aren’t going anywhere and we believe that it’s a fantastic business to be in.

Make sure you check out our YouTube channel, and if you would like any additional details or have any questions, please leave a comment below or join us on Discord. If you liked this article and want to read others click here.


I'm Rob, the founder of I’m a Marine Corps vet with a master’s degree in Information Systems and have been working in the technology field for over a decade. I started working with 3D printers because I was fascinated by the technology and wanted a hobby that my kids and I can enjoy together.

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