The 3D printing business can be lucrative and indeed profitable. One, because 3D printed goods have a high novelty value, which increases demand, and two, because as an additive form of manufacturing, 3D printing uses less waste, and therefore costs less. 3D printing companies like ProtoLabs, who generate low volume, high precision prototypes can help businesses expedite their products to market efficiently and at lower cost, bumping up profit as an end result. And if you really want to embrace 3D printing, you can set up your own printing business. We explore some of the most popular avenues for 3D printing profit – take a look.

Set up your own 3D printing service 

The opportunities available for 3D printing products are phenomenal. Every day new ideas are brought to market, and the beauty is the speed with which it can happen. One obvious way to capitalise is to invest in 3D printing equipment and establish your own additive manufacturing business, producing detailed prototypes or end products on request from customers who have already created a CAD file detailing their requirements. 

With constantly increasing demand for this type of service, investing in 3D equipment is always going to pay dividends, as long as you have a solid business plan and take the time to research everything you need to know about the industry and your customer base first. 

Seizing 3D design opportunities 

Another way to capitalise is to approach 3D printing from the design angle rather than the production angle. Some companies offer, for an agreed price, to take your prototype idea from your CAD file and then generate your product for you. This means that if you’re more of an ‘ideas person’, you can simply send your design in to them, without having to invest in 3D printing technology. The company will make any necessary adjustments to your design and produce a prototype for you based on your requirements. Once you have your finished prototype you can go ahead with larger scale production to bring your product to market. 

Selling 3D printed goods

Thanks to the interest in 3D printed products, there is already an existing market place. E-commerce websites like Etsy and Amazon offer a platform for selling all kinds of art-based 3D printed products and accessories.  

Some of the most profitable 3D printed products:

Below is a list of some of the most profitable 3D printed products to both produce and/or sell: 

  • Toys – toys have popular appeal for children all over the planet, meaning your market place is big and profit potential greater. 
  • Ear buds are popular products and gifts, and with 3D printed versions, there is the opportunity for customisation too, bring a unique selling point.
  • Thanks to the customisation and personalisation opportunities with 3D printing, bespoke and unusual jewellery designs can be made. 
  • Customised footwear is growing in popularity too with the advent of brands like Adidas offering customised shoes for both style and comfort with an exact fit.

How 3D printing improves profit in manufacturing 

Thanks to the cost cutting possibilities with 3D printing in manufacturing, the opportunities for greater profit are wide reaching. Cost reduction is achieved as 3D printing produces parts on demand, which eliminates the need for storing materials and products, and there is no over-production either, which is also helpful for reducing waste and staying sustainable. In addition, cheaper tooling can be made via 3D printing which can equate to significant cost savings for mass production. At the prototyping stage, ideas can come to life quickly with 3D printing and any potential faults or issues can be identified early on in the product development phase, potentially eliminating costly errors before high volume production begins. This approach can get products to market quicker, a particular advantage for companies operating in a competitive market place. 

The burgeoning demand for 3D printed goods 

3D printing is a technology still in development. What is the most profitable means of making money through it today could be different in a years’ time, but its future high demand is an almost certainty. The scope of items and products that can be 3D printed is growing and growing so it’s crucial to keep an eye on its development if you’re interested in profiting from it. 

All indications predict that the 3D printing business will staggeringly double its value in just four years’ time with analysts estimating an industry value of 32.7 billion dollars by the year 2023. And whilst it will take some time for 3D printing to be able to compete with some of the more traditional methods of production in the short term, many industry professionals believe that it will one day be the mainstay of all manufacturing, heralding a complete revolution in sustainability and 3D printing profit opportunities. Watch this space. 


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