Everyone wants a fast turnaround. But not everyone is willing to do the work. If you want to stand out and be proud of the effort you put into your projects, then we’ve got an offer for you.
3D printing is a lucrative, customization market that’s available for business all year round. With a low start-up cost, and competitively priced materials, soon you'll be printing your own profit.
The one drawback to all this, is time.
Most 3D printers aren’t made for mass production, that’s what injection molding is good at. But if you’re looking into producing small customizable projects, for yourself or a group of friends, then owning a 3D printer is going to be a rewarding experience for you.
"What can I make with a 3D printer? How do I profit off it?"
If you've got the patience and know-how, practically anything you want.
So let's jump into how you can make money off of a 3D print.
Know your Market
Honestly, it’s going to take some research. You must know your market/s well enough to be able to cater to them. There’s the simpler ones: practical/functional print collectors (think small household/office tools like cable holders), some niche markets like mechanical keyboard enthusiasts (custom keycaps are huge in this market), and even bigger markets such as figurine collectors, crafters, bakers, and even cosplayers.
The obvious choice would be to cast a wide net in hopes of landing multiple markets, so you print everything from tags to keychains to props. But that will just set you back in time and resources. Your best bet would be to target a specific market and branch out from there. Get good in one market and then start aiming for other adjacent markets.
For example, if you choose to target bakers, there's a multitude of tools that you can print for them to use. A simple measuring cup to ensure they get the right amount of flour in their recipes, or cookie cutters (that you can customize yourself!) for fun, custom shapes for their next batch of cookies. When you've grown and established yourself in that market, you can start aiming for similar markets, like crafters. Both tend to make a mess in their workstations, and crafters often use items from the kitchen for their projects, so it's a good starting point to branch out from.
Engage your Market
Once you've done your research, begin to narrow down the markets you want to cater to, and then engage with them. Join Facebook groups or announce your presence on Instagram; just be active on social media. Sure, word of mouth is great and reliable, but if your target market is a small niche, it will be difficult to get them to reach you through traditional means. The internet is a wonderful tool in marketing, so use that to your advantage. Talk to your market and build rapport and trust. That's how you get them to avail of your service, trust builds opportunities for both parties involved.
Especially if you're working on a custom part someone wants printed to exact dimensions, you absolutely need to talk to the client and work out how the print should come out. This also helps you build confidence in speaking, especially if that's not your forte.
Deliver and Expand
Of course, you have to deliver on your client's expectations, so it's imperative you understand your 3D printer inside and out. Don't over-promise but also don't undersell your business. When you have built a loyal client base, you can begin to slowly expand by having your clients refer your services and products to their mutuals. In no time, you'll be purchasing another machine to begin your printing farm.
If you really want to be a generalist, then you can offer printing services to other people. Start with a few custom pieces for friends and family, like printing custom dog tags. Or let people know you have a 3D printer that they can use to 3d print whatever they want, as long as it fits your build plate, then just charge them accordingly for electricity and material consumption.
For those of you that really do plan on mass producing using the 3D printer, your best bet would be to purchase multiple machines and start a printing farm. That gets pricey at the beginning but you’ll soon be paying off all the machines one by one because you're able to accomodate more projects at once.
If you are a little tight on the budget and are still looking to mass produce, then you’re going to have to get creative when printing. If you’re printing small items like lithopanes, you can stack a couple of them in one buildplate and crank out 5 or even 6 at a time. If you’re making custom keychains, you can squeeze a bunch of them by moving things around on the buildplate. This technique only works for small and slimmer items, however. Then again, if you’re printing a custom part (i.e, for prototyping), you don’t need to print them in large volumes.
Or if you really must produce a large batch of prints, start them early. If you're looking to give away a 3d print per person at an event months from now, you can start weeks or even months prior.
The best part about this, is that you don't even have to know 3D software to start printing. Sure, it's an absolute plus, but there's numerous sites out there dedicated to free 3D printable models.
If you still have doubts about 3D printing, don't worry. Reach out to us and we'll answer your questions to the best of our abilities.
But if you're ready to take on the plunge, avail of our Silhouette Alta now and get your free training upon purchase, that way, you're confident you can turn a profit in no time. Plus, when you visit the office, you'll be able to see and feel our own 3d print samples. See you soon!