It is 2021 and 3D printing is not a surprise anymore. Although it took time to be noticed after it started in the ’80s, the yearly growth from now on is expected to be 23.5% for the next five years.
So, do not be skeptical if you are thinking to start the 3D printing business this year. The technology is reaching every shade of life.
From the fashion industry to the medical niche, 3D printing has proved that it is not just a short term buzz.
Those days are gone when 3D printing was exclusively innovated to test prototypes and accelerate the design process.
Now, additive manufacturing has taken over the responsibility to print parts.
From the food on the restaurant table to the prosthetic legs for physically challenged, 3D printing has been behind all these great works.
The word is spreading and companies are trying to take the best from it. If you are looking to start a 3D printing business, there won’t be any better time than now.
You must have been working hard to learn about technology from the last few months. And, it is time to put all the knowledge into action.
However, what all you need to start a 3D printing business. I am glad you thought about it. Planning about a business is always the trickiest part.
Once you believe that you have everything in place, you may find a part of a jigsaw puzzle lying unnoticed.
So, let’s dig into the 3d printing business ideas and what are the prerequisites.
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- 1 Prerequisite to Start 3D Printing Business
- 2 3D Printing Startup Ideas
- 3 The Conclusion
Prerequisite to Start 3D Printing Business
3D printing is not new but its application is being experimented every now and then, giving us more room for creativity and uniqueness.
In such space, where everyone is trying out something already working or something that has not been thought yet, it becomes difficult to step your foot inside.
Learn About the 3D Printing Technology
If you are planning to start a 3D printing business, you must have taken the time to learn about the technology. But, let me mention it once more.
Because the learning phase isn’t an option, it is completely very crucial to have an in-depth understanding of the technology on which you are going to build your company.
There are many online courses available and you must complete at least the intermediate level before taking the first step towards the idea of starting a 3D printing company. Remember, learning won’t stop here.
3D printing is an evolving technology and you may have to bring changes to keep your business operation up to date with the latest 3D printers or design software.
Pull up your socks and get ready to experience the most dynamic and rewarding roller coaster ride.
Think of a Business Idea
When so much is happening around the 3D printing technology, thinking about how to start a 3D printing business or choosing among 3D printing business ideas is very obvious.
However, it is imperative to plan your business goals before you put your head inside. This will help you strategize your steps accordingly.
You can choose between many 3D printing business ideas (examples are listed later) or can come up with something unique of your own.
For example, Adidas printed 4D shoes in collaboration with Carbon, a 3D printing leader, and the product was a hit. There are a lot of products made by 3d printing, get inspired and start right away!
Likewise, you can think about adding a twist to your existing business plan by incorporating 3D printers or start a 3D printing business from scratch.
This is the most crucial stage of your business plan. Because the 3D printing business space has a lot of surprises, you may need to ensure you have proper funding, especially when you are planning to experiment a lot.
You can choose to budget your project through various crowdfunding websites or seek help from the financial institutions concerning loans.
The budget will entirely depend on how small or big you want to start with.
If you are looking to start from home with one or two 3D printers, you may not need much funding if you have some savings.
Otherwise, to start a full-fledged manufacturing unit, you must look for financers and funding options. You can still use 3D printers to make money at home at first then expand as you go.
Choose the Right 3D Printing Technology
Depending on your business goals and budget, research for the right 3D printer that will tick all your needs.
It does not have to be the best in all of its functional areas, but it must serve the purpose in the best way possible.
Look for the right ingredient and place your order. Also, check for the customer support and other assistants that the company offers once the printer is sold to its customers.
Buying from companies that offer support later is a huge time and money saver.
Choose Platforms to Sell
Apart from your own website, sign up for popular e-commerce websites like eBay, Amazon and many others to feature your products.
Be active on social media account and spread the word. Stay connected with your users and answer them. Make an impression that lasts.
The more your brand will be visible, the better it will sell.
3D Printing Startup Ideas
You can never fall short of business ideas when you wish to start a 3D printing business. You can be innovative with your creativity or think of something already working great.
I would like to specify a few industries which are making huge profits after getting in terms of 3D printing technology.
3D Print on Demand
When 3D printing on demand, first select a niche. Check which market would be suitable for you to print for.
Research and find the one that you would be able to serve best. Start on a small scale. Print and take feedback often to learn and better your services.
Starting with a B2B business model will be really helpful. Once you have got a few clients, you won’t have to bother about return orders.
You must scale when the need for production grows. This will help you in attracting funding groups as well.
Remember to onboard as many clients as you can serve in the beginning. Regular delays and workplaces still in the experimenting phase would lead to huge losses and a bad reputation.
Starting a 3D Printing Company by Setting Service Center
The one discussed before was about similar products and designs that your clients need every now and then.
By setting a service center, you would mostly focus on the design part. You can provide counseling to companies looking for ideas for their designs which better suit their business requirements.
You can provide them with the idea of those designs and print them as they agree.
For this, you can either create prototypes for B2B business or you can set up an eCommerce business serving end customers.
The B2B business model is safe and is easy to operate. Once you have the model for the prototype, you can easily design it and print it.
However, when working in a B2C setup, you must find reliable factories in a country that is cheaper as it is expensive to manufacture in the owner’s.
This may get you in trouble with increased turnaround time, delayed processing, costly delivery time and much more. Even if you pass all the hurdles, you must be patient to realize the gains as it usually takes a little more time.
You can also offer your service center solutions to ad agencies. Apart from t-shirts, promotional goods are expensive to manufacture.
Instead of targeting companies, check with ad agencies as your solution can benefit them and so would you.
#1 Selling to Companies:
This would be an easier option. You may have a few sets of clients who would be ordering from time to time from your service center.
You can offer them consultation on designs and print the one finalized. Even a few companies as clients would be a good start.
However, you will have to limit your opinion to the selected niche.
#2 Selling to Online Customers:
When thinking of the B2C model, you are looking for an e-commerce setup.
This is a huge niche in itself. From production to promotion to selling to retaining, everything comes inside one bracket.
It is time-consuming and will require huge funds. Even if you start alone printing a few items and selling on common hub’s websites, you will be making very little (depending on what are you printing).
And, if anytime demand increases, you must scale faster which is not easy and may put you through a lot of stress.
So, you must take this decision wisely and planning everything in advance.
Outsource your 3D Design Services
If you want to cut the production and business cost short, you may like this option better.
Instead of printing 3D files, why not offer designing services to the hubs that are already engaged in 3D printing. A lot of companies do not have the skill set or employees able to design creative ideas into 3D printable files.
If you are great at CAD and scaling software, why not put your special knowledge to work and earn some great profit.
There are many huge giants already engaged in 3D printing. You can offer your 3D designs to these companies and make money.
Again, to do so, you must master a niche to become competitive enough to be liked by these companies.
Once you have finalized the niche you would be working for, create ideas and imaginations that would sell.
The best part is that you won’t be printing these files. In short, you will be saving a lot on buying a 3D printer and setting up the service center.
On the contrary, you can start your business with a laptop and an internet connection. How cool does that sound?
You can start your website to sell 3D designs. Think of it as the website templates. You sell them and earn money while others will take responsibility for building it.
Sell Customized 3D Printed Products
Customization is a huge industry. You can customize anything and it is possible with 3D printing as well.
Getting into this niche would get you huge prospects. Who doesn’t like different and unique items?
Even one chooses a mobile cover according to one’s taste. Thinking of your target audience will help you decide what you would like to print.
If you are 3D printing for kids, collectibles and figures of athletes, movie stars, singers, movie avatars would be one of the many best options.
Looking for enticing youths, 3D printing customized mobile cases, shoes, jewelry, and many other items will get you the right buzz. There is no limit to your creativity.
If you are looking to sell your 3D printed customized parts to companies, you can choose and target one niche to start with.
The application of 3D printing is vastly known to everyone. Prosthetics for medical niche, customized gifts for e-commerce websites, customized baby products for companies as well as end customers.
All these are only a few examples of what you can do to start a 3D printing business with customized products. The demand for printed t-shirts, customized sports items is surging exponentially.
You can dip your fingers in the same market and add your magic to give your brand an edge over others.
Customized decoration items, furniture, and many other such items are also raging heavily. You can use the opportunity to target companies looking for interiors to make their brand unique and recognizable.
To start a 3D printing business is definitely a good idea. The future prospects are only going to rise to look at what the technology is capable of providing.
Governments of various countries are trying to figure out ways to make 3D printing more accessible to local businesses and help grow their economy.
3D printing has given faster and cheaper solutions to businesses and is being utilized to save lives during natural calamities. Today, we are able to print edibles through 3D printing which once was only limited for printing prototypes.
It is not just you, but there are many who want to start a 3D printing business. So, plan right and let your competition sulk while you progress.