Printing Your Way to Profit: Making Money with 3D Printing

March 14, 2023

3D Printing Business Ideas and Future

Making money with 3D printing is a viable business approach, due to the quick development of 3D printing technology as a way to manufacture and create objects. With the ability to produce high-quality, custom-made products on demand, 3D printing has created a world of possibilities for entrepreneurs and hobbyists alike. From creating unique home decor to prototyping new inventions, the possibilities are endless. 
With the technology continuously improving, the trend for 3D printing businesses is upward. Experts suggest that smaller 3D printing businesses will take a large share of manufacturers due to a more efficient supply chain and localization.

In this article, we'll explore ways you can turn your 3D printing skills into a profitable venture. Whether you're looking to start a business or earn some extra income on the side, there are plenty of opportunities to make money with 3D printing. So, let's dive in and explore some of the most promising avenues for 3D printing entrepreneurs.

Making money with 3D printing, print farm
3D Print Farm (Source: Prusa blog)

Ways You Can Make Money with 3D Printing

The industry is booming right now and 3D printers have become more affordable than ever. Not only that but also the quality of the prints, speeds of printing, and reliability have been increasing in the last years as well.

Now that the technology has become more affordable, the opportunities for businesses based around 3D printing have expanded. Now that this technology is not just something from sci-fi movies, people are starting to seek these kinds of services.

Let’s look at each one in detail:

3D Printing on Demand

One of the most popular ways to make money with 3D printing is by offering on-demand 3D printing services. This means that you will print 3D designs for customers who need them. Some popular examples of 3D printing on demand include:

Replacement Parts

Another widespread use case for on-demand 3D printing is creating replacement parts. Whether it's a broken hinge on a pair of glasses or a missing piece from a toy, 3D printing can provide a quick and affordable solution. By offering on-demand printing services for replacement parts, you can help customers save money and time compared to traditional manufacturing methods.


Finally, on-demand 3D printing can be used for prototyping. If someone has an idea for a new product, they can use 3D printing to quickly create a prototype and test its functionality. This can help them save time and money compared to traditional manufacturing methods.

By offering on-demand 3D printing services for these use cases, you can tap into a growing market and provide a valuable service to customers. However, it's important to remember that you will need to have a high-quality 3D printer, as well as the skills and knowledge necessary to produce consistent, high-quality prints.

3D Printing Your Own Designs

Another great way to make money with 3D printing is by creating and selling your designs. This can be an excellent option if you have a creative streak and enjoy designing your own products.

A youtube creator @UncleJessy has the perfect success story for this way of making money with 3D printing. He has designed a steering wheel for an Xbox controller that he has been selling on Etsy. With about 3,700 sales now, we can imagine that the profits will be substantial.

steering wheel for xbox one controller
Mini Steering Wheel for Xbox One Controller (Source: Etsy)

By designing your own stuff, you can print and sell the physical products, as well as sell the 3D file to other creators to print it themselves. The opportunity to sell files opens up a huge market that isn’t possible with physical products. If your design trends on platforms like Cults3D, you will surely rack in big bucks.

Selling 3D prints and files can be a profitable business if you invest time and effort in creating high-quality products and establishing your presence in the market. By offering both physical and digital products, you can cater to a wider range of customers and tap into the growing market for 3D-printed products.

Offering 3D Modeling Services

Providing 3D modeling and design services is a great way to monetize your skills, especially if you have a talent for creating unique and intricate designs. Clients are always in need of skilled designers who can bring their ideas to life. What's great about this option is that you don't even need to own a 3D printer to start making money. All you need is your computer and your skills in 3D modeling software. This means that you can start right away and build a portfolio of work that can help you attract even more clients in the future. Having 3D modeling skills also gives you an advantage over the competition, as not everyone has the technical knowledge to create complex designs.

Make money selling 3D modeling services
3D modeling with AutoCAD (Source: AutoCAD blog)

3D Printing Consultant

If you have extensive experience in 3D printing, you can also make money by offering consulting services to businesses and individuals interested in 3D printing. 

Many businesses, particularly those in the manufacturing industry, are increasingly turning to 3D printing to create prototypes and even final products. However, they may not have the expertise or knowledge necessary to fully utilize this technology. 

As a 3D printing consultant, you can provide valuable advice on the best practices for 3D printing, the right type of printer to use for specific applications, and how to optimize the design and printing process for maximum efficiency. You can also provide guidance on troubleshooting common problems and offer technical support for issues that arise during the printing process. Additionally, individuals who are new to 3D printing may also seek your expertise in choosing the right printer, selecting materials, and learning the basics of 3D modeling software. 

By offering consulting services, you can leverage your knowledge and experience to help others achieve their goals in the 3D printing industry while earning a good income for yourself.

Calibrating/Fixing 3D printers

Another way to make money with 3D printing is by providing repair and maintenance services for 3D printers. 

As with any technology, 3D printers can sometimes experience technical issues that require troubleshooting and repairs. Additionally, most of these machines are not particularly user-friendly, which makes them hard to set up properly.

This is where your expertise in calibrating and fixing 3D printers can come in handy. Many individuals and businesses who use 3D printers rely on them for their daily operations and cannot afford to have downtime due to technical problems. By providing repair and maintenance services, you can help ensure that their printers are always in good working condition, which can lead to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth recommendations. 

You can also offer calibration services to help ensure that their printers are producing high-quality prints. To succeed in this business, you need to have a deep understanding of the different types of 3D printers and their components, as well as the ability to diagnose and fix common issues. You may also need to keep an inventory of spare parts and consumables, such as nozzles, belts, and filaments, to provide timely repairs to your customers.

This is a good way to make some side income though it is something you can’t rely on, as depending on where you live, most likely there won’t be too many 3D printers in the area that needs fixing. 

Repairing and calibrating 3D printer
Fixing clogged nozzle (Source: Rick Bolt )

How to make your 3D printing business successful?

Is there a universal recipe for success? Well, we haven’t found it. You should let us know if you did! 

But what are some tips to succeed in this endeavor?

Choose your niche and print technology

One of the keys to success in 3D printing is to choose a niche and print technology that you are passionate about and that has a viable market. 

This could be anything from customized jewelry to functional parts for drones, to architectural models. By focusing on a specific area, you can become an expert in that field and offer unique value to your customers. 

Additionally, by choosing a specific print technology, such as FDM, SLA, or SLS, you can offer specialized services and cater to customers who require specific types of prints.

Soon enough, you will be the go-to person in your chosen niche.

Establish relationships with your customers

Building strong relationships with your customers is essential for success in any business, and 3D printing is no exception. 

This involves providing excellent customer service, delivering high-quality prints, and being responsive to customer needs and concerns. By establishing a reputation as a reliable and trustworthy 3D printing service provider, you can build a loyal customer base and generate repeat business. 

You shouldn’t only spend money on generating new leads but also on keeping customers.

Offer cutting-edge service

In the rapidly-evolving field of 3D printing, it's important to stay on top of the latest trends and developments. 

This means investing in the latest technology and software, attending industry conferences and workshops, and constantly improving your skills and knowledge. By offering cutting-edge services, such as 3D scanning, generative design, or bio-printing, you can differentiate yourself from the competition and attract new customers.

You can’t afford to not improve over time in a constantly improving industry.

Figure out your pricing

Setting the right price for your 3D printing services is crucial for success. 

You'll need to consider factors such as the cost of materials, the time and effort required to complete a print, and the level of expertise required. It's also important to research the market and understand what your competitors are charging for similar services.

You may need to experiment with different pricing models, such as per-project or per-hour rates, to find the sweet spot that allows you to generate revenue while remaining competitive.

A good starting point will be to use our Rate Calculator. By giving your details such as material cost, labor and operating hours, the number of 3D printers, etc, you will get a pretty good estimation of the rates you need to charge.

calculate your 3D printing rate in dollars
Pricing Calculator by

Give instant quotes to your customers

Providing quick and accurate quotes to your customers is an important part of offering excellent customer service and increasing your lead qualification.

By using online quoting tools or software, you can provide instant quotes based on the parameters of the project, such as print size, material, and complexity. This not only saves time for both you and the customer, but it also helps to establish trust and transparency in your pricing.

You need a tool to easily implement on your website such as Next to instant quotes, it is also packed with features such as geoblocking, lead management, secondary processes, and much more. As research states, immediate price feedback can increase your lead qualification up to 7 times.

Don't lose any potential revenue due to slow response.

instant quotes for 3D prints
Instant Quotes by