3D Printing is a rapidly growing technology and new 3D printing service businesses are starting up all across the world. These 3D printing service businesses are launched to offer various types of products. While some of them try to solve all manufacturing problems, others remain focused on a specific niche.
Through this article, we explore some of the business ideas for providing 3D printing services which new age and budding entrepreneurs can consider to start their own business.
- 1 Business Ideas for 3D Printing Services
- 1.1 On-Demand Manufacturing
- 1.2 Niche Product Manufacturing
- 1.3 E-Commerce Store
- 1.4 3D Printing Services with DFAM & Topology Optimisation
- 2 Conclusion
Business Ideas for 3D Printing Services
On-demand manufacturing is the concept of manufacturing products as and when required for immediate consumption. 3D printing facilitates this manufacturing concept because of the inherent nature of the technology. But it is restricted by the different types of technologies. Different technologies have different applications and so every service business is restricted by the technology they can incorporate into their workflow depending upon the customers they target.
An FDM printer is great for quick prototyping but not for surface finish and precision where SLA/DLP printers outclass FDM printers. Similarly, different technologies have different advantages and drawbacks which, if identified appropriately, can prove beneficial for businesses providing 3D printing services.
Niche Product Manufacturing
Many 3D printing services provide all types of manufacturing services but sometimes this strategy divides the attention of the business and can also dilute the business.
These businesses can focus on some niche product offerings. We list down five popular niches which are strong around the world.
Prosthetics 3D printing services
Prosthetics is one of the most popular niche offerings by 3D printing service providers. It is not only a lucrative market but also a popular way to serve the community where people with disabilities can be helped.
Customized Baby Products like Toys
This is a growing niche and also a lucrative sector where parents are keen to buy customised products for their kids. As kids grow fast they also do not want to spend a lot on regular products. 3D printing perfectly fits in this gap of providing affordable and customised products. Some companies are already trying to catch this niche by 3D printing baby products ranging from spoons, baby toys, etc.
Spare Parts / Antiques 3D printing services
Spare parts management shows a lot of promise but somehow many niche companies have not yet managed to crack the code. While the spare parts niche is now spearheaded by logistics companies like DHL & UPS where 3D printers are placed at strategic supply locations and parts can be directly manufactured at the store and forwarded to the delivery destination.
3D printing service providers can target the antique market to capture a critical market share. It may not be a really long-term business model but currently, it can serve to be a big boon to antique collectors.
Cosplay / Movie Props 3D printing services
Cosplay/Movie Props sell like hotcakes at events like Comic-Con. A US company CoKreeate has carved out a fine niche in the sector and are popular among many of the cosplay fans and even with big movie producers like Stan Lee.
The same craze can be captured in India and if properly marketed and well-priced the props can be sold for lucrative margins.
E-commerce businesses like Shapeways, Materialise and others are the new-age 3D printing services brought into existence due to the advent of the additive manufacturing technology. Such an E-commerce store has a great scope but the approach and the type of products will define the success of the model.
3D Printing Services with DFAM & Topology Optimisation
Designing services are still primitive in most companies and 3D designs are made according to the feasibility of traditional manufacturing techniques. The new concept of Design for Additive Manufacturing (DFAM) is still yet to be adopted by many companies. It can be a great business where a 3D printing service provider can offer DFAM services.
While DfAM originates from the ideation level, what if your customer already has an existing model designed for conventional manufacturing. Then you may have to use topology optimisation software to create lattice structures in order to gain advantages from 3D printing.
In the simplest form, Topology optimization helps in removing the excess material in a design without affecting the properties and functionality of the product to be manufactured.
As mentioned above, the existing products are designed as per the limitations and constraints of the traditional manufacturing methods. But this also limits the benefits that can be achieved by additive manufacturing and so if a 3D printing service provider can also optimise the topology of existing designs then it can develop into a complete solution for the industries.
We saw the popular business ideas for offering 3D printing services. This list however is not exhaustive and as the technology and industry evolves, more and more new ideas will emerge and proliferate. But for enthusiasts who want to start a business and find 3D printing promising, this is a good place to start and explore.
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