3D printing is one of the most amazing technological breakthroughs of our time.
This innovative tech gives almost anybody the ability to create whatever they want. From trinkets and toys to organs and weapons, 3D printing is changing the way we look at production.
Interested in starting a 3D printing business? Follow these tips for success!
1. Secure Funding
Starting a 3D printing business requires some specialized equipment and materials. For this reason, it can be an expensive venture.
Because 3D printing has a very high up-front cost, starting a business without a funding plan can be risky. If you buy a 3D printer but don’t make many sales, you could be a few thousand dollars in the hole.
One plan could be to turn to crowdfunding as a proof of concept and initial revenue stream. Start a campaign on Kickstarter or Indiegogo and see if you can bring in some pledges.
2. Start on a Marketplace
Just because you’re opening a business doesn’t mean you need to open an office or start your own website to sell on.
To start your company, you can build a shop on a larger marketplace site. Many of these sites are free to join and have the shop infrastructure already built for you, saving you time and money when starting a 3d printing business
Shapeways and 3D Hubs are marketplaces that are dedicated to 3D printing services. You can also sell on more general sites like Shopify, Etsy, or even Amazon.
3. Create and Sell Designs
If money is tight and you can’t yet afford your own printer, don’t worry. You can still make money in the 3D industry.
If you’re a designer, you can create and sell designs that others can buy and print on their own.
A lot of the computer-aided design (CAD) tools you’ll need to make a design are free, like SketchUp. Find some tutorials online to help get you started, and you’ll be making and selling 3D files in no time.
4. Buy and Use Your Own 3D Printer
Of course, owning your own 3D printer opens many doors when you’re starting a 3D printing business.
A typical mid-range printer goes for a few thousand dollars, but there are also some cheaper models that you can get for less than a grand.
When deciding on which printer to buy, you’ll need to consider three things:
- The size of the objects you want to print
- The material you want to print with
- The resolution you want to print at
When buying a printer for your business, you also need to consider the other materials and equipment you’ll need. Naturally, you’ll need plastic filament, which is the “ink” of the machine. You should also seek more info on if you’ll need an air filter in your workspace.
5. Develop a Niche
Although it’s a relatively new industry, the 3D printing market is already highly competitive.
If you try to appeal to the masses, you’re likely to get drowned out by other businesses that are much larger and already well-established.
One of the keys to successfully starting a 3D printing business is to be niche. Find a particular part of the 3D printing industry to focus your marketing and products on.
For example, you could exclusively sell 3D-printed jewelry or artwork. OR maybe you could specialize in creating accurate models of historic buildings and architecture.
6. Sell to Both B2C and B2B
Small startup 3D companies often only think about selling to individual consumers.
But don’t forget that one of your biggest customer bases could be other businesses.
Perhaps a local marketing firm would love some 3D printed objects to use in a presentation trying to secure a new client. Or maybe a local auto mechanic needs some specialty parts that you can craft with your printer.
With so many uses for 3D printing, there’s many different people and companies you can sell to.
7. Focus on Customization
One of the advantages of 3D printing is the speed and strength of something mass-produced combined with the customization of something hand-made.
You should focus your marketing efforts toward people looking for a product like this. Something that a person can’t get anywhere else but through 3D printing.
For example, you could provide an engaged couple a 3D-printed custom “Mr. And Mrs.” wedding cake topper featuring figurines of the actual bride and groom.
You can also create unique baby announcement items for expecting parents. You can actually create 3D casts of sonograms, which is a perfect gift to give to soon-to-be grandparents to break the big news.
8. Learn from Other Startups
One of the best ways to get ideas and guidance when starting a 3d printing business is to watch and learn from other businesses like yours.
There are many other 3D startups. Do some research and find a few that you think you might want to model your business after. Check out their products, monitor their social media and marketing, and watch or read interviews from their leadership.
Study them, take notes, and use what you pick up to help shape your own business.
9. Build an Online Presence
Your 3D printing business will be more than just designing files and printing objects.
You’ll also need to perform other business-related tasks. One of the most important of these is marketing and public relations.
You need to come up with a name and logo for your business branding. You need to set up social media accounts for your business to interact with customers and build sales leads.
You should also look into search engine optimization and learn how to maximize your internet presence and help people find your business online.
10. Diversify Your Business Activities
Once you build up your shop, you can start selling more than just design files or printed products.
By diversifying your business activities, you can establish multiple streams of revenue to make more cash and have better financial security.
One method to do this is to sell your knowledge. Create tutorial courses to teach others how to design 3D models with software, or how to improve their products.
Learn More About Starting a 3D Printing Business
Starting your own small business can be intimating, but Working Home Guide is here to help.
For more tips on how to start and run a successful business, check out our business blog.