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How to Make Money with 3D Printing in 2024

9 Mins read
Buyers should consider the build size before buying an FDM 3D printer
The build size of the 3D printer will determine the size of the print/Source: Manufactur3D

Did you know that to make money with 3D printing in 2024 you don’t need to pursue it full-time, instead it can also be a side hustle while you pursue other earning opportunities.

In one of our previous articles, we discussed the various 3D printing business opportunities you can pursue. However, these were full-time businesses, and the level of expertise, investment, time, and effort required for those ideas was prohibitively high.

We understand that not everyone wants to start a full-time 3D printing business in India in 2024, and you may be looking for side hustle opportunities. Side hustles are ideal for students, stay-at-home moms, working professionals, and even small businesses looking to add a new revenue stream.

So, in this new update we have added more ways you can make money with 3D printing, we focus solely on side hustle ideas for making money with 3D printing.

Can you really make money with a 3D Printer?

The straightforward answer is Yes! You can undoubtedly make money with a 3D printer or operating in the 3D printing industry in 2024.

How much money you ask? Well, that will depend on your level of knowledge and expertise in technology, as well as how much time you devote to this side hustle. But to get started, one of the obvious first step is to buy a 3D printer.

Buying a 3D Printer

Which printer you buy will totally depend on the idea you wish to implement. The price of printer starts from as low as Rs. 19,000 and can go in excess of Rs. 2-4 Cr. To run an side hustle you will not need a high-cost printer and a printer costing around than Rs. 5-10 lakhs will be quite good.

Buying a 3D printer can be a confusing task especially if you aren’t completely aware of the types of technology, the differences in each of those technologies, the materials, subtle features and how they influence the part you are trying to print. And in case you need some support, you can mail us your base requirements at inquiries@manufactur3dmag.com and Manufactur3D will help you in the decision-making process.

For your reference, check out a list of the best 3D printers for beginners which can be a great starting point for your 3D printer search.

You can check out our list of some popular and some yet-to-be-popular ideas to make money and decide which one suits your routine.

Guide on how to make money with 3D printing in 2024

Sell Educational Models to Schools

Selling 3D printed educational models is a way to make money with 3D printing in 2022
3D printed educational models/Source: ZMorph

One of the best ways to make money with 3D printing in 2024 is to sell educational models to schools. It is now widely accepted that 3D printing is an excellent learning tool that is widely used in STEM education. But not all schools have the funds to purchase 3D printers, or have trained educators who can teach 3D printing to students. Instead of selling them 3D printers – which already most businesses are pursuing – you can persuade schools to purchase educational models.

All schools use standard medical or science models to teach students, and these are mostly outdated and even loosely mended together to keep from breaking apart. So, replacing their existing models and more interestingly, offering them new and unique 3D printed models to enhance the students’ understanding of concepts, ideas and topics, is significantly interesting to schools.

You will have to develop conceptual models and either design them yourself or get them designed and 3D printed. Once you have the sample models, you just need to go on a selling spree. If you secure an order, get them manufactured on-demand and deliver it to the school.

You can create 3D printed models of a human skeleton, conceptual models to explain science, math, geography, history, and literally any subject that can be explained substantially well with models. Focus on developing products that not only help students but can also reduce the effort of educators to teach those concepts.

3D Printer Reviewer

You can become a 3D printer reviewer if you are an expert in handling and using a 3D printer. You can contact manufacturers to obtain a 3D printer and write an exciting review of the 3D printer. This review can be posted on third-party blogs or even on your own YouTube channel. You can earn money from the manufacturer who wants his product reviewed by a third party or from the blog that will publish your content. This is one of the most straightforward ways to make money with 3D printing in 2024.

(New) 3D Printing YouTube Channel

This idea is closely related to the previous one about reviewing 3D printers. In addition to 3D printers, you can also review materials and software suites. Setting up a YouTube channel dedicated to 3D printing allows you to share your knowledge, expertise, and creative process with a global audience. Create engaging content, such as tutorials, product reviews, time-lapse prints, or vlogs, to document your 3D printing journey.

Consistency in uploading videos, interacting with viewers through comments, and collaborating with other creators can all help you increase your channel’s subscriber base. YouTube monetisation options include advertising revenue, sponsored content, merchandise sales, and crowdfunding through platforms such as Patreon.

Invest in 3D Printing Stocks

3D printing stock trends
3D printing stock trends/Source: Motley Fool

If you are a stock trader, you should look into 3D printing stocks. The market is undoubtedly young, but if you enjoy taking risks, you can certainly take a look at the stocks. Many companies have gone public in recent years, and if you want to take a chance, consider this option.

(Please keep in mind that this is not investment advice, and readers should make their own decisions about whether or not to invest. We are not responsible for any investment decisions made by reading this article.)

Consultancy

If you are a technology expert, why not put it to good use. You can start a consultancy business. This can easily be a side hustle, but with this idea, you can make a lot of money with 3D printing.

Globally, the rate of adoption of 3D printing technology remains slow. MSMEs believe that the capital investment is prohibitively expensive to even consider the technology. Though this is true to some extent, investing in 3D printers will provide benefits across the entire supply chain, as opposed to traditional machines, which only provide benefits in certain parts of the production.

This is where the consultant can assist businesses in making better decisions about adopting 3D printing. You, as a consultant, can assist in answering questions like the need of the 3D printing technology for the business, whether the business really needs the technology, and, if so, how to implement the technology and more. Having someone at their side, will certainly help the MSMEs deal with technology sellers.

3D Scanning

3D scanning a high precision part for reverse engineering with a portable scanner
3D scanning a high precision part for reverse engineering with a portable scanner/Source: Manufactur3D

With the introduction of 3D printing, reverse engineering has gained renewed interest and momentum. Because of the ease with which any type of object can be 3D printed, many industries are now scanning obsolete or old machine parts and having them 3D printed.

There are several ways to profit from 3D scanning. All you need is a scanner, which will undoubtedly be an investment, but you can also purchase smaller handheld scanners and provide scanning services.

Finding work through online freelancing jobs is the best approach. Several websites list available jobs, and you can also inquire directly with companies about contracting work. Once you’ve identified a few potential clients, you can start scanning and creating digital files.

Rent out your 3D printer or 3D Pen

In 2024, this is the best way to make money with 3D printing. If you have a 3D printer and/or a 3D Pen that you are not using, consider renting it out. Connecting with schools can earn you a quick buck by renting it to them during their science fairs, lab days, or any other special day. You can also rent it out to an engineering student for his academic project or to a local manufacturer. Additionally, you can even get resourceful and look for unique customers, such as families who want to have fun on weekends, parents that home-school their kids, and so on.

Sell digital 3D models

You can buy and sell 3D models on sites like Gambody
You can buy and sell 3D models on sites like Gambody/Source: Gambody

This is a great side hustle and easy way to make money online with 3D printing. The only prerequisite is that you need to be proficient in designing for 3D printing. If you are, then you can try to search for trends and cash in on them by creating relevant 3D models.

You can create unique models for a string of applications from household items to office products, character models for tabletop gaming to latest superhero figurines and from upcycling broken products to repair them to creating new and innovative accessories for existing products.

Once you create these designs, you can upload them on relevant online repositories. Thingiverse, Cults3D, and Gumroad are platforms for showcasing and selling your designs to a global audience of 3D printing enthusiasts. Clear product descriptions, high-quality images, and responsive customer service are essential for attracting buyers and establishing a profitable online design store.

Check out the various online 3D model repositories where you can sell and earn money with your 3D printed designs.

For designing the CAD models you will obviously require a good modelling software and depending on your forte you can use modelling software for automotive applications, for architectural applications or even for aerospace applications. You can also use free CAD software applications to design models.

(New) Sell Personalised Products

People are becoming more likely to buy personalised products. Most customers are fed up with mass-produced products that don’t reflect their uniqueness. So, for such customers, you can create and 3D print personalised one-of-a-kind products that make them feel unique. Providing personalised recommendations and guidance throughout the design process can help customers trust you and be pleased with the final product. To add value to your services, consider providing unique customisation options such as colour variations, material options, and personalised engravings.

This is not your typical side hustle because you may need to spend a lot of time in meetings and getting clarification from customers who, in most cases, do not know exactly what they want. Net, because it is a customisation, you may need to iterate for an extended period of time. This would be a great idea to try out if you can manage the meetings and hire someone to print the necessary parts. However, personalisation allows you to sell your services at higher prices and make a good profit.

Consider creating items such as customisable jewellery, home decor, specialised tools, niche items, or piggybacking on market trends that will appeal to either a broad range of customers or a very specific segment of the audience that is desperate for such a product.

Top platforms such as Etsy, Amazon, and eBay can help you reach a wider audience and showcase your work. You can also use social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube to create interesting videos and content about the parts in order to reach a larger audience. It is important to note that providing excellent customer service and delivering orders on time are critical for building a positive reputation and attracting repeat customers.

(New) Sell An Online 3D Printing Course

Udemy online 3D printing course
Udemy online 3D printing course/Source: Udemy

Developing and selling an online 3D printing course necessitates subject matter expertise as well as the ability to communicate complex ideas in an engaging and understandable manner.

Create a structured curriculum that covers the fundamentals of 3D printing, software use, troubleshooting techniques, and advanced design skills. Use multimedia elements like videos, quizzes, and interactive assignments to help students learn more effectively. Promote your course on social media, online forums, and educational platforms to reach a larger number of aspiring 3D printing enthusiasts.

This can also become your full-time work going forward if you are able to attract and teach many students and expand your course offerings. One such individual who mostly started out as a CAD design  course provider and also has his company is Desktop Makes. Vladmir, the founder of Desktop Makes, offers a wide range of practical tutorials on Fusion 360.

You can create 3D printing course on sites like Udemy, Skillshare or even deliver a course via your own website.

How to Get Started?

The answer on how to get started will depend on what you wish to accomplish. To get started you will need a CAD designing software (Read: Best CAD software for 3D printing), a 3D printer to print parts (Read: Factors to Consider When Buying a 3D Printer), 3D Scanner, registration on e-commerce sites or your very own website to sell online, and intrinsic knowledge of the technology. You may not necessarily need all the equipmentIn some cases, you may need all the equipment.

Once you choose which idea you want to pursue, you can buy the equipment and start your side hustle right away.

Full-time Business Ideas

If you are interested in getting into full-time 3D printing business then you can check out our dedicated article on the different 3D Printing Business Opportunities. To know the popular business ideas for providing 3D printing services, do read our article on the topic. But remember that starting a business is not as easy as it sounds. If you wish to know how to start a 3D printing business in India in 2024, then you do check out our detailed article which covers all aspects of running a business.


About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing. which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Visit our 3D Printing Education page to read more such informative articles. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Manufactur3D is an Indian Online 3D Printing Media Platform that reports on the latest news, insights and analysis from the Indian and the Global 3D Printing Industry.
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