Should You Sell 3D Printed Items?

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Are you looking to launch a small business? Then you should consider learning how to sell 3D-printed items.

Some still consider 3D printing a specialized tool for craftsmen or engineers. But many hobbyists have created full eCommerce stores by selling 3D-printed items online.

Now, there are a few startup costs and legal matters to consider, of course. Plus, there are some logistical considerations to tackle. That said, launching a 3D printing store can be a unique and fun way to earn some extra profit.

Below, we share what it takes to sell 3D-printed items. We’ll also explore what to do, and not to do when launching a 3D printing business.

 

What are 3D Printed Items?

 

As the name states, a 3D-printed item is a product that you can make by yourself, using a 3D printer. It’s about creating a real-life object from a digital file. For example, tools, figurines, home decor, jewelry, or even clothing.

All it takes is a 3D printer, which people can buy for personal use, and 3D ink. This is a filament that you can feed into the printer. Users program how the material is piled up until the final product is completed.

In short, 3D printing is like a small-scale manufacturing operation. But you don’t need a huge space to set it up. You can perform the whole process, known as fused deposition modeling (FDM), at home.

 

Why Sell 3D Printed Items?

 

As we said above, it takes little space and a few raw materials to create 3D-printed items. With the proper modeling skills, you can design and create your items instantly. So, you can optimize your stock in real-time.

Speaking of stock, 3D printing does not require a lot of storage. You could also work on a make-to-order approach. That means you can create each product as soon as customers order it. Once the item is done, you only need to pack and ship it.

sell-3d-printed-items
Image Source: Clever Creations

That said, building a successful 3D printing business takes time and research. Besides getting a 3D printer and working materials, you need to hone your modeling skills. You also need to find a profitable niche audience.

Sellers must also consider setting up an online store to showcase their 3D-printed items. Once this storefront is ready, you’ll need to create attractive listings, and invest in advertising.

It’s also important to consider packing, shipping and pricing. Your final offer would cover the time and workplace on creating each 3D printed item. At the same time, it should allow you to make a reasonable profit.

Plus, there are some legal nuances to consider.

 

Is it Legal to Sell 3D Printed Items?

 

Yes, it is legal to sell 3D-printed items, as long as you have the creator’s permission to do so. Let’s elaborate. Most 3D print designs online include a license type. For example:

copyright-chart

Now, you can usually make 3D-printed items that have IP protection, for personal use only. But what if you want to change or sell? Here’s where Creative Commons may help.

These types of licenses state how you can use a creator’s work. Usually, you can get permission to use and share a design. In other instances, you can modify or even sell it.

creative-commons
Image source: Visme

Make sure you have permission to use and sell your 3D-printed items. And if you’re a designer, always protect your work with an IP license. That’s how you can protect your brand, and build a name that’s well-known by customers.

 

How to Sell 3D-Printed Items

 

Now, let’s review what it takes to start selling 3D-printed items. We’ll focus on materials, resources, and practical knowledge.

 

Start-Up Materials

 

  • 3D printer. This is the key tool for your business, and there are many options to choose from. You can find decent printers between $250-$500. Go for a model with high printing speed build quality, and at least a 12×12-inch printing bed.
  • 3D Ink. You’ll need a lot of this to print your models. Rolls usually retail between $20-30. Filaments come in various colors, gauges, and materials. You can find a few options here.  
  • Working tools. Pallet knives, nitrile gloves, and chemical sealant. You’ll need these items to work on your 3D models after printing. You review some tool suggestions here.
  • Modeling Software. If you’re a creator, you’ll need software to map your designs before printing. If that’s too much work, you can always browse around to find attractive 3D models for under $150.
  • Work Computer. There’s no need for a big, powerful designer computer. That said, make sure your machine has over 4GB of ram and 3D processing capabilities.

 

3D Printing

 

Nowadays, you can find many online tutorials and courses that’ll teach you how to print 3D models. Here’s the overall process:

  1. Create your Models. Here you have 2 options: sculpt your own models, or work with a freelance designer to create original printing models.
  2. Download 3D designs. If you go for the later options, work with models that feature a Creative Commons license. You can also contact the designer and ask permission to use their work.
  3. Program your printing. You’ll need a slicer program that translates the digital model into G-Code. This is key so the printer understands how you want to print a 3D model.  
  4. Set up the 3D printer. Load the 3D in and make sure the printer bed is well positioned to take the filament in.
  5. Start printing. The time to print depends on the complexity of each model
  6. Curate your designs. Here’s where you’ll need your assorted tools. You’ll need to sand mold lines, remove supports, and smooth out the 3d printed item.  

 

Is Selling 3D Printed Items Profitable?

 

We’re talking about setting up a 3D printing Side-hustle. That says, in part, that many people are already doing it. So, making a profit only by printing items and selling them to a niche audience can be tough.

It takes more than offering unique or fancy items to have a successful business. You’ll do better by taking a different approach. For example, create items that fill a need. Give users items they can use and appreciate.

Also offer quality and great service. It’s not just about the novelty of 3D printing, it’s about helping customers improve their lives. Here are a few strategies for selling 3D printed items that can help you drive revenue:

  • Offer pre-made prints. Think of home appliances, smartphone cases, vases, or planters. Select items that users buy on a regular basis. This can help you build a steady sales flow, and also attract repeat customers.
  • Sell your own designs. If you sell 3D printer items that you designed, why not share the blueprints? You can charge a fee for each template, and users can then print it by themselves. It’s a great way to build your brand as a creator.
sell-3d-printed-items
Image source: Printaworld
  • Open a 3D printing Locale. Market your services within your locality. You can help neighbors print new home decorations. Granted, this requires you to scale your operation and rely on automated processes. But the potential profits could be worth it.
  • Rent out your 3D printing services. Offer your 3D printer to businesses that might benefit from it. Why not print custom office supplies for a business? You can also design souvenirs for a special event, and collect a fee.

Final Thoughts

 

Not everyone wants to sell 3D-printed items. There are many legal and logistical issues to tackle. But this market also features many niche audiences waiting for the right 3D-printed item for them.

When properly executed, 3D printing can become a quite profitable side hustle. It offers several benefits and not many downsides. All it takes are the proper tools, and sticking to the fine legal print.

Make sure that you comply with licensing and IP rights related to 3D printing. That’s how you can protect your business and drive sales in the long run.

Best of luck!

 

Author

Esteban-MuñozEsteban Muñoz is a content writer at AMZ Advisers, with several years’ experience in digital marketing and e-commerce. Esteban and the AMZ Advisers team have been able to achieve incredible growth on Amazon for their clients by optimizing and managing their accounts, and creating in-depth content marketing strategies.

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AMZ Advisers

AMZ Advisers

AMZAdvisers is a full-service eCommerce & digital marketing consultancy with extensive experience in creating high-growth strategies for brands and manufacturers on Amazon. We believe that developing a robust eCommerce presence is integral for a business looking to maximize growth in the 21st century. Our custom strategies aim to make Amazon a powerful sales channel and the centerpiece of every company’s eCommerce presence.

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