3d printing, also known in some circles as additive printing, is one of the newest markets that has seen incredible growth over the last 10 to 15 years.
It is believed that in 2021, according to the Grand Review Research paper, the market value of the entire global 3d printing industry was just under 13.85 billion dollars.
Considering that this is a mainstream market that only started to get popular within the last 20 years, that is an astonishingly quick turnaround from a niche market, to a worldwide industry that is impacting virtually all our lives.
Then again, considering the versatility of this new technology, whether that’s for simple domestic purposes or heavy-duty industrial and professional tool development, perhaps that isn’t too surprising.
And it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down or stabilizing either.
The same paper that calculated the growth of this industry last, also estimates that the market will continue to have a compound annual growth rate of over 20% between the years 2022 and 2030.
That could mean that the explosion in 3d printing and companies that use it that we’ve already seen might just be the tip of an even bigger iceberg of what is to come!
This means that in the 2020s, there might not be a better time to start your own 3d printing business than in this decade.
Every year, that potential window for starting your thriving business in this burgeoning industry feels like it could close just a little more.
Whilst nothing is saying that success in your business won’t be found after 2030, why risk missing that chance when you can take the opportunity that has been laid in front of you?
Fortunately, you won’t have to make those first steps on your own. There are plenty of resources that can be a great starting point to get the ideas rolling, including this one!
In this guide, we’re going to go over some of the key factors and decisions that you will need to make if you want to start a business that uses 3d printing to its full potential, as well as some of the other steps that you will need to keep in mind going forward.
So, with that out of the way, let’s begin!
The Costs Involved In Opening A 3d Printing Business
Before we get any further into looking at these businesses, we should probably first take a look at what the costs for starting this business up that you might be looking at are.
After all, if you don’t know how much money it will take to start fresh, you could be done and bust before you even really get started.
Fortunately, one of the strongest things that starting a 3d business has going for it, is how relatively easy and small-scale your business can be starting.
Because the equipment needed to put a decent 3d printer is relatively small, many start in people’s homes.
This means that there is little need to worry about leasing space out for your business at first, or even a major increase in the costs of utility bills for your business.
If you are opening the business on your own, you won’t even have to worry about paying anyone staff salaries at first.
Not only that, but if you are focused on simply the model-making aspect of the business, then it is possible that you won’t even need a 3d printer yourself.
If you are signed up with another printing service that does have 3d printers for production, you can handle the model-making details, whilst the printer service takes care of printing the physical model, and the profits are shared between the two parties.
There are a few costs that are often tied with starting up a 3d printing service or business.
First starters, if you are going to be conducting business online, you will need a website so that customers can view your models and products.
For a well-made professional website that has a great user interface (UI) and is easy to understand for newcomers, you could be looking at around $500.
Then there is the advertising that you will need to get your name and business out onto the internet as well, which is where you will likely find the biggest market that will be interested in your product.
This can be anywhere from $2000, or perhaps slightly less, depending on the scope you are starting with for your business at.
Deciding on a 3d printer might be the most difficult part of starting up a business, as there are plenty of commercial 3d printers on the market right now that are perfect for starting up a business.
Many can be bought new for under $6000, but that will depend on a variety of factors, including the following:
This one should be relatively self-explanatory. The larger the size of your 3d printer, the larger models you can make for your customers.
Depending on the type of software you are using, it could also be possible to produce individual models in-bulk.
Larger models do come with their issues, however, so make sure to keep this in mind if you do choose to go with a larger model.
Generally speaking, two materials are used in the model making process for 3d printers: Resin and Filament
Resin 3d printers, such as Steroeolithograohy/Digital Light Processing (SLA/DLP) printers use light to cure layers of liquid resin and can produce some very fine detail for smaller items, which is why they are particularly popular when used for making smaller prototype models, as well as tabletop miniatures for board gaming and wargaming, as well as tabletop RPGs.
They do need to be cured, however, and most resin printing plates tend to be on the smaller side of things, although there are exceptions out there.
A filament printer is probably the type that most people are aware of. The filament plastic is melted and formed into a shape and is deposited on the printing plate, layer by layer until the process is finished.
This is the preferred type for people making larger models for personal use, as well as for printing more exotic materials, such as carbon fiber and metal filaments. They struggle to replicate fine details in smaller models, however, so keep that in mind.
The Ongoing Expenses Necessary For Keeping A 3d Printing Business Up
So, once you do have your small 3d printing business up and running, what are the cots going to look like for you and your budget?
Well, in the same way, that starting up these businesses tends to be much cheaper than others, maintaining them is also a relatively inexpensive cost for this new enterprise of yours.
There will only be a few costs necessary for you to maintain when it comes to keeping your business afloat, especially if you are opting for a home business, to begin with.
You’ll need to pay for your professional business website so that you can stay as its host.
Whilst this can vary, the cost you should be looking at is roughly 100 dollars annually, maybe slightly less.
You will also need to maintain a decent budget for your advertising online, which can be as much or as little as is sustainable for your business, although at least a few hundred dollars a month will keep your name out there and keep attracting customers.
Other than those two costs, you’ll also need to maintain a decent amount of supplies for the printing products.
This may not be an issue if you are outsourcing the physical printing, although you will need to split your item’s profits with them by an agreed amount to compensate them for their supplies, plus there will likely be a small transaction fee to consider.
What Service You Should Be Providing With Your 3d Printing Services?
The bulk of the services you will be providing, as well as the way you will be making a profit for your business, will be through the printing and delivery of whatever 3d models your business specializes in.
Alternatively, you may also get commissions or custom requests from customers who themselves have a 3d printer, but do not have the software or knowledge/experience to create a specific model that they otherwise cannot find online. In this case, you will likely charge them an agreed-on fee for creating the 3d model they requested in the appropriate software.
Decide On Your 3d Printing Service That You Will Provide
However, before actually starting your business, you should probably decide on what type of service exactly you are selling to your customers.
Whilst it is possible to be able to provide more than one of these services, it will both help you narrow down the type of materials that you will need to keep stock of, as well as help focus your advertising campaigns, rather than trying to accommodate all markets.
Prototypes For Designers/Other Businesses
Many other businesses or designers, before further investing in a project they are working on, like to have some kind of proof of concept that they can physically see or touch for themselves.
3d printing has a few advantages over traditional model making for these types of projects, as they tend to cost less in materials and can be done at a much quicker rate.
As a business, f you have some experience with engineering and modeling, this is also something you can sell as part of your business, being able to offer advice and potential improvements for models.
If you choose to go down this specialty, try and advertise a specific niche that you are experienced in working with, as there are a lot of other prototype creation businesses out there.
This one is a very popular one for many 3d printer owners to start their business. Toys are some of the most widespread and easiest models that you can establish your business around.
Not only that but there are so many types of toys out there that are, from dolls to figurines, to toy cars, boats, trucks, bikes, and all sorts of other vehicles, plenty of other toys that are water-resistant, which makes them perfect bath toys for kids.
And that’s not even counting the market for board games and tabletop miniatures!
However, keep in mind that there are copyright laws that you will need to stick to, especially if you are looking to turn a profit.
Patented toys that are made by 3d printing are fine for private and personal use, but selling them could potentially infringe on some patents, which could mean serious legal consequences for you and your business.
Because so much money that goes into the public manufacturing for eyewear ends up not getting sold and gone to waste, many companies are turning to 3d printing for their production of various types of eyewear, such as sports goggles and glasses frames.
Not only does this help cut back on waste products being created, but it also allows for frames to be custom-made to best fit a customer’s needs, such as fitting their heads properly, by inputting their measurements into the 3d model before printing them. What’s more, if nylon powder is used to make them, it can be reused when no longer needed.
Having a business that specializes in making replacement parts for virtually any other product, whilst manufacturers can struggle to keep up with demands, 3d printing is the perfect solution to plug the rest of that whole, as well as reducing delivery time for an area.
Once you have these aspects covered, all you’ll have to do is register your business like any other. We hope this guide’s tips pay off for you!