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How to Start a 3D Printing Business

The 3D printing market value increased on average 25% per year over the last five years. Its increased market value generated a boom of interest in setting up a 3D printing business. The 3D printing industry offers different niches in which to develop a business. While each type of 3D printing business will have specific requirements to start, there is general information that can make setting up any form of 3D printing business easier.

 

Decide Which Kind of 3D Printer You Want to Be

3D printing can be used in a variety of different ways. As such, there are many different niches for profitable 3D printing businesses. Some examples include 3D printing prototypes and manufacturing components, setting up a local 3D printing service, and 3D printing toys.

 

3D Printing of Prototypes and Models

Roughly 65% of the 3D printing demand comes from engineers developing industrial, electrical, or consumer goods. Also, industries such as architecture, engineering, technology, and medicine require models of devices, manufacturing parts, and chemical compounds. These industries also typically have a section of their research and development process dedicated to testing out prototype designs or finding more efficient ways of creating a needed manufacturing part. 3D printed parts and components not only speeds up production time but also lowers cost. Therefore, dedicating a 3D printing business to helping other businesses with these needs can be quite profitable.

Raise 3D recently interviewed 2050.AT, a 3D printer farm to learn how 3D printing assists manufacturing. 2050.AT created 3D printed components and parts. 2050.AT explained that 3D printing is valuable for producing parts that are hard to find or expensive to produce. 3D printers make prototyping more efficient. To learn more about 2050.AT’s range of work with 3D printing, click here.

 

3D Printing Service

A more general idea is to establish a local 3D printing service. As we covered in the previous example, many businesses incorporate 3D printing into their production process. However, not all businesses can afford their 3D printers. In this situation, a local 3D printing service is still more efficient for these businesses than traditional research and manufacturing methods. A 3D printing service also can produce work for individuals that require their own 3d printed products. For example, students may need a 3D printed model for a school project. Or an artist may need 3D printed models or devices for art projects.

 

3D Printed Toys and Models for Children or Collectors

A third option is to 3D print toys and models of characters or clothing of a character for children, collectors, and cosplayers. For example, a helmet of a well-known character from a tv show or movie will be appealing to all three demographics.

 

What Kind of 3D Printing Business Can You Set Up?

As with any new business, a 3D printing business will take time to get off the ground. Therefore, part of deciding to start a 3D printing business is knowing how much you can handle. This includes knowing your budget, knowing how much physical space you can dedicate to your business, knowing how many people will be working with you, and knowing how much time you can put into each of your projects. Since not every kind of 3D printing business is the same, each niche will have its requirements. For example, 3D printing prototypes and manufacturing parts will require larger printers with more specialized capabilities.

 

 

How Much Does Starting a 3D Printing Business Cost?

The actual cost of starting a 3D printing business depends on the type of focus you choose. However, the cost of setting up a 3D printing business ranges from $1,000 to $10,000. This cost will be affected by the type of 3D printer that you choose, utilities, rent (if you choose to not work from home), software, and marketing. The cost of a 3D printer changes based on the size, capabilities, and quality that you wish to produce.

 

3D Printing Filaments

A crucial aspect of establishing a 3D printing business is in understanding the capabilities, characteristics, and differences of each printing material. The different kinds of 3d printing materials are also known as filaments. The most common filaments for 3D printing are plastics. Each plastic has its strengths which make it suitable for different projects and tasks. Sometimes a 3D printed device has many parts to it, and each part may perform better with a different kind of plastic. For example, TPU/TPE filaments are flexible sometimes to the point of being like rubber. And PLA filament is durable and easy to print.

 

3D Printing Competitors

Each type of 3D printing business will have its market and competitors. For example, a 3D printing service will have a local market with local competitors. Meanwhile, 3d printed toys and models will rely heavily on online sales and social media. A general suggestion for all 3D printing businesses is to find an focus on making yourself visible on the platforms where other businesses like yours appear.

 

 

Making Your 3D Printing Business Stand Out

All forms of 3d printing businesses are competitive, and it can be hard to know how to stand out from competitors. One way of adding value is to know how to do model design. Model design is a necessary procedure to create a 3D printed product. Many businesses contract out the model design process to another business. However, you can learn how the process of turning an image into a digital model which will be used for 3D printing. This will give you more control over your project and keep your work in-house. Another way to stand out from your competition is through post finish. Post finish means smoothing out the final 3D printed device and adding color. Deciding how far you want to go with post finish can also help you stand out from other 3D printing businesses.

3D printing offers a variety of niches to establish a profitable business. Knowing the exact details for setting up the foundations for each niche will require more specific research. However, there are some common factors for establishing any kind of 3D printing business such as learning about filaments and knowing your competitors. Once these factors are known, a strong foundation can be built for a profitable 3D printing business.

 

 

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