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How to Make Money with 3d Printing

How to Make Money with 3d Printing

One of the fastest-growing industries in the world today is the 3D printing industry and you've most likely come across several amazing items made out of the 3D printer. With the skill of 3D printing, there are so many things you can do depending on how creative you are and it is imperative that you know that your creativity is just as important as the tool.

3D printing can be a hobby to some people but can also bring in some cash. There are numerous ways through which anyone can monetize a 3D printer, and how much money you make is dependent on the commitment and effort you put into it.

This article provides ways in which you can make money with 3D printing and some 3D printed items in demand.

Selling 3D Printed Items on Etsy

Etsy is recognized as one of the best places to sell items that are handcrafted, including 3D printed items.  Due to its large audience, a lot of people with 3D printing skills take advantage of that to sell their printed items. Some people have even established a name for themselves around a particular niche, whether by selling pre-made items and giving a personalized finish with 3D printing or selling full-on 3D printed items.

You can create an online store with Etsy, where you show digital copies of your products for sale. The site makes setting up the store and customers interaction easy. However, Etsy demands a small amount from your revenue.

A different option involves selling to other sellers on Etsy. Somewhat like acting as a wholesaler where you make the products and sell to retailers on Etsy who eventually sell to the final consumers.

Etsy is a great online marketplace to test your ideas. With its large audience who are interested in handcrafted items, you can test or validate your 3D printing ideas by how well it sells. Another advantage of selling on Etsy is that you can run ads for your store at relatively cheaper rates. However, Etsy poses a lot of competition where you'll most likely see several people selling the same thing or various variations of the same thing. People just want to know what sells, copy it, and put it up for sale. Originality hardly ever matters. So, if you want to build a name on Etsy, you will have to stand out.

How to Stand Out on Etsy

To stand out, it means you have to do something different and be unique so you can be noticed. It's no different from what you'll need to do for your store to stand out on Etsy.

  • Take higher quality pictures, this will attract people.
  • Study your competition, think of what you can do better, and do them.
  • Offer unique products as well.
  • Create your brand's personality and offer great customer service.

Happy customers will say good things about your brand and leave amazing reviews. With these tips, you'll be making some cool cash off your 3D printed items on Etsy.

Selling 3D Printed Items on eBay

Specialized 3D printed products tend to sell really well on eBay. This is due to the fact that eBay offers an auction price feature. Rare machinery and equipment are mostly sold on eBay.

If the 3D printed piece is an original modeled by you, meaning you're the only seller in the world, then you'll be able to sell as much as you want especially when the piece becomes so famous. The piece will eventually be subjected to copying by other 3D printing hobbyists or professionals, but you'll have the advantage of being the first mover not to talk of the satisfaction that comes with creating an original.

Any 3D printed item can be put up for sale on eBay as long as it follows the site's basic guidelines. Items can be listed with two options; at a "Buy it Now" price or an "auction". You can start by listing as an auction, gather the results and use it as a guide to price the product. You can also try out both methods to see which works best for you.

Asides from printing originals, there are several other models of existing items that you can print and potentially make better. For example, you can replace the chassis in your RC car, boat, or plane with one that is 3D printed instead of fixing the chassis at a very high cost.

You can also validate your 3D printing ideas on eBay, especially with its auction price feature. Some unique 3D printed items you can sell on eBay include the following:

  • GoPro Hero 2 Action Camera Frame – Choose Your Color!
  • Protective Shell Case for NAZE32 Flight Controller version 5
  • Steam Punk Nerf Barrel Extension for Nerf Silencer – Gun Blaster

Other Ways To Make Money With 3D Printing Include:

●       Renting out your 3D printer at a fee:  This is a great way to make passive income with your 3D printer. You can rent out your 3D printers at different amounts depending on the model of the printer and how long the borrower intends to use it.

A 3D printer costs around a couple of hundred dollars to over ten thousand dollars depending on the model. People who may not be able to afford the tool may require a rental to print. Get the word out that your 3D printer is available for rent and make some money from it. You can also put together a contract with the terms and length of the rental, and the consequence of damaging the printer.

●       Offering 3D Printing Courses: If you consider taking this path, you are required to own a 3D printer and know the ins and outs of it, i.e. you must have a broad knowledge about the process of 3D printing and techniques to be a successful 3D printer.

The course can be a basic program for beginners where you show them the equipment, software, and what they require to get started, or advanced classes to teach how to become better at 3D printing. You can also decide whether to teach a class of people or perform one on one consultations.

Keep in mind that you must create a curriculum. and prepare a lesson note to guide your teaching.

●       Selling 3D Printing Designs: You can make money from 3D printing without running your printer. All you'll have to do is sell your 3D designs. If you already have 3D designing knowledge, then you can really make some money off this. 

There are various ways of selling 3D designs, whether to a brand or on a personal website or even selling digital designs to consumers. You can also decide to design by commission. Put out the word that you do 3D designs and have people patronize you.

●       Starting a Local 3D Printing Business: For anyone who does not have a 3D printer, this might be expensive to start up depending on the model of 3D printer you want to buy. However, this can yield profits but can be demanding especially when you have to deal with so many customers and 3D printing demands that you're not accustomed to.

The charges for your services vary depending on the project and the time it will require for the whole process.

5 Best 3D Printed Items to Sell

1.    Flexi Octopus

Flexi Octopus is a unique item to print and sell. This piece of 3D-printed item can either be used as a toy or decoration in homes. People are always willing to buy toys or decorations and this means big business for you.

Personalizing by adding an initial can speed up the sales of the Flexi Octopus because personalized 3D items leave a long-lasting impression on the user.

2.    Personalized Soap Dishes

On Etsy, there are several listings for "3D printed soap dishes" with prices around $10 to $30. 3D printed soap dishes have a large market of people who love them. People now tend towards personalized items rather than generic products. So, soap dishes that have a phrase or initial on them tend to sell well because it gives a unique look that the users can appreciate.

3.    Fidget Toys

These are really cool items to print and sell which can serve as toys, home decors, or even stress relievers. You can make several amazing designs and make money from them.

4.    Flower Pots or Planters

A quick search of flower pots on Etsy yields several results of many awesome and unique designs that are selling really fast. You can definitely tap into this and make some more money from printing flower pots or planters in different sizes and colors or even a different design. And maybe not even necessarily a pot, but something that can serve the same purpose i.e holding flowers.

5.    Personalized keyrings

A lot of people battle with so many keys finding it difficult to identify which is for what. Having a personalized keyring makes it easier to tell them apart and aids easier identification. This presents a huge market that you can take advantage of.


Venturing into the business of 3D printing can be quite profitable, whether it involves selling in online marketplaces like Etsy or eBay or providing 3D printing services in your local area and other ways listed above. To be a successful 3D printer, one must put in the required effort and commitment into making it big in the industry and bear in mind that creativity matters just as much as the printing equipment.

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