How To Make Money With 3D Printing: Advice From An Actual Money Maker!

3D printing technology has come a long way since its inception, offering unprecedented flexibility and customization in manufacturing. This technology’s application is not limited to industrial settings; even individuals can capitalize on it to generate income.

This article explores various methods, strategies, and best practices for turning your 3D printer into a profitable venture.

Make Money 3D Printing

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer

We will touch upon multiple subtopics, including custom manufacturing, selling 3D designs, and building a brand.

Custom Manufacturing

1. Prototyping

Solution: Offer prototyping services to startups or engineering firms.

Best Practices: Use high-grade material for prototyping and offer design consultation to add value.

Potential Markets: Local startups and online platforms like UpWork or Freelancer.

2. Niche Products

Solution: Identify an underserved market segment and focus on creating high-quality, customizable products.

Best Practices: High-resolution printing, quality control checks.

Potential Markets: Hobbyists in sectors like RC cars, drones, or specialized kitchen gadgets.

3. Personalized Merchandise

Solution: Create customizable products such as phone cases, jewelry, or mugs.

Best Practices: Provide design options, and focus on quality.

Potential Markets: Online platforms like Etsy or your e-commerce website.

Selling 3D Designs

1. Stock 3D Models

Solution: Design and sell 3D models on platforms like Sketchfab or TurboSquid.

Best Practices: Offer multiple formats, and ensure the design is flawless.

Potential Markets: Game developers, architects, and advertisers.

2. Licensing

Solution: License your designs to manufacturers.

Best Practices: Legal consultation for contract formulation and quality assurance.

Potential Markets: Corporates and smaller manufacturers looking for unique designs.

Education and Training

1. Online Courses

Solution: Create and sell courses that teach 3D printing skills.

Best Practices: Structured curriculum, regular updates.

Potential Markets: Online platforms like Udemy, Coursera, or your own website.

2. Workshops

Solution: Offer in-person or virtual workshops.

Best Practices: Hands-on training, provide take-home materials.

Potential Markets: Schools, colleges, and community centers.

Building a Brand

1. Social Media

Solution: Use platforms like Instagram and YouTube to showcase your work and build an audience.

Best Practices: High-quality images and videos, engaging storytelling.

Potential Markets: Global audience interested in 3D printing.

2. E-commerce Website

Solution: Build your e-commerce website to sell products and services.

Best Practices: User-friendly UI, SEO optimization.

Potential Markets: Global customers.

Vertical Integration

Solution: Combine multiple aspects like manufacturing, design, selling, and training to create a one-stop solution.

Best Practices: Ensure quality across all verticals, and offer bundled services.

Potential Markets: Startups to individuals.

Technology and Equipment

Given your affinity for high-quality, meticulously designed products, consider investing in premium 3D printers like the Ultimaker S5 or the Formlabs Form 3. These machines offer unparalleled precision and have a wide range of material compatibility. For designing, software like Autodesk Fusion 360 offers advanced functionalities and cloud-based collaborations, ideal for complex projects.

3D Printers: Precision and Versatility

Ultimaker S5

Specifications and Features:

The Ultimaker S5 is known for its large build volume, dual extrusion capabilities, and advanced active leveling. It supports many materials, from basic PLA to advanced engineering plastics like Polycarbonate and Polypropylene.


Dual Extrusion: This allows you to print with two materials simultaneously, essential for complex structures or soluble supports.

Active Leveling: The printer auto-calibrates, ensuring optimal adhesion and, consequently, high-quality prints.

Touch Screen Interface: The intuitive touch screen simplifies the setup and monitoring.

Who Should Consider It:

Given its capabilities, it’s ideal for prototyping, producing complex architectural models, or small batch production.

Formlabs Form 3

Specifications and Features:

The Form 3 uses Low Force Stereolithography (LFS), dramatically improving print quality. The printer allows for fine detail and smooth surface finishes.


LFS Technology: Allows for incredible detail and surface finish.

Wide Material Support: From standard resins to specialized materials like dental or biocompatible resins.

User-friendly Software: PreForm software makes preparing your design for printing easier.

Who Should Consider It:

This printer is an excellent choice for industries that require extreme detail, such as dental prosthetics, miniature modeling, or jewelry design.

Design Software: Complexity and Collaboration

Autodesk Fusion 360


CAD, CAM, and CAE: The software is an all-in-one platform for Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Manufacturing (CAM), and Engineering (CAE).

Cloud-based Collaboration: Team members can access the project from anywhere, making it ideal for collaborative efforts.


Parametric Modeling: Allows you to capture design histories and parameterize components.

Simulation and Analysis: The software can simulate stress, thermal characteristics, and fluid flow, among others.

CAM Capabilities: Directly translate your design to G-code, the language 3D printers understand, without needing additional software.

Who Should Consider It:

Given its expansive set of tools, Autodesk Fusion 360 is best suited for complex projects that require collaboration. Whether you’re working on advanced prototypes, mechanical parts, or intricate designs, Fusion 360 has the necessary capabilities.

Regulatory Considerations

While not a primary focus, knowing regulations like copyright laws for designs is essential, especially when dealing with branded or patented items. A legal consultation might be prudent.

What It Means

Copyright laws protect the expression of ideas, which in this context refers to your 3D designs. Any unique design you create is automatically copyrighted, giving you the exclusive right to use, share, or sell it.

Implications for 3D Printing

Obtaining permissions or licenses is essential when producing items based on someone else’s design or brand. Failure to do so can result in legal action against you.

Actionable Steps

Original Designs: Always seek to create original work to avoid infringement.

Licensing: If using someone else’s design, ensure you have a licensing agreement.

Fair Use: Be cautious when considering if your work falls under “fair use,” as the criteria are often ambiguous and subject to legal interpretation.

Liability and Consumer Safety

What It Means

If your 3D-printed product fails and causes harm or damage, you could be held liable.

Implications for 3D Printing

Ensuring the functional safety of your 3D-printed products is critical, especially for items used in safety-sensitive applications like automotive parts or medical devices.

Actionable Steps

Quality Control: Implement strict quality control measures.

Documentation: Keep detailed records of the production process, materials used, and quality checks.

Warnings: Clearly state the limitations of your product, including where and how it should not be used.

Given the intricate legal landscape surrounding 3D printing, consulting with legal experts specializing in intellectual property and liability is prudent. This would involve:

Contract Review: For licensing agreements or contracts with clients.

Compliance Check: To ensure you are following all local and international laws.

Risk Assessment: To assess potential liabilities and devise mitigative strategies.


The potential to make money with a 3D printer is vast and relatively untapped. From custom manufacturing to design selling and education, there are numerous paths you can take to turn a profit.

Investing in high-quality equipment and software will set you apart, ensuring your products or services stand out. Moreover, continuous learning and updating with technological advancements are critical to long-term success in this rapidly evolving field.