3D printers have been around for quite some time already, but still don’t hold the same household machine status the regular, 2D printers do. And, of course, people have jumped right in and created a market where there was none. It seems that having a 3D printer isn’t only a hobby for some people, but a solid way to make money as well.
Now, if you are anything like me, you will take the phrase ΄΄how you can make money with your 3D printer’’ quite literally and, well, think of actually “making” some money (printer, money— you get it). But no, guys. This is a terrible, terrible idea. Let’s get serious again, try to avoid falling into the dark side, and look at how you can get some value out of your hobby, that won’t cost you an attorney and probably life in prison. So, without further ado, here are some ways to make money with your very own 3D printer.
3D Printing on Demand: Create Others’ Ideas
Like we established before, most of us don’t own a 3D printer yet (it doesn’t have to be like that, though! If you, too, want to sit with the cool kids, check out this super cool list with our products). Since many realized the endless possibilities of 3D printing, they have been putting the machines to good work, creating pieces on demand. Customers reach out with a ready-made 3D model and all you have to do is the printing. There is also the option of accepting 2D drawings which then you will model into a 3D component or physical components that you will digitize and duplicate. Really, the options are endless, shaped only by the customer’s demands and your own skills.
Our Alfie: A sleek and snappy device, ideal for your creations.
Print What You Like and Watch Your Business Soar
Now, of course, you can put online whatever you like to make. Be that a Sailor Moon figurine or a wheelchair for a handicapped dog, cockatiel, turtle, etc., it’s really up to you and your interests. Be passionate enough for your art and your crafts, and others will notice. Individuals have set up their personal businesses on sites like Etsy, Uncommon Goods, and Big Cartel, which help independent sellers reach out to customers and sell their unique creations. Check out this video by Youtuber Uncle Jessy, where he explains how he made 18K on Etsy with his 3D printer.
Inventions: Be Creative and Get a Reward for Your Awesome Result
Speaking about creativity and art, this one is for the pioneering inventors out there. You love to create, and you love to be practical and find the most effective solutions to everyday problems. The 3D printer is an invention of its own, invaluable because it promises endless possibilities, listed among them unexplored ideas and gadgets that would revolutionize the way we go about everyday life. Only the sky is the limit. People with hands on 3D printers have already shown some inventiveness not to be trifled with. Take for example this steering wheel for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One Controller. It went viral when this first guy came out with it, demand skyrocketed and soon people started printing their own and selling them on platforms like Etsy.
As I said, the sky is the limit. Nothing can stop you from creating the next big thing. And if what you create is indeed revolutionary, indeed able to bring about some change to the manufacturing world, then you will be awarded—not just by the sales, but by the state as well. Now, we can’t get too technical, as this is not an introduction to patent law and doesn’t aim to be one. But an inventor is entitled to a monopoly for a certain amount of time, depending on the country. European Union Law sets this period of protection offered by a patent to 20 years. 20 years for you to be the one to exclusively reap the fruits of your creation. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?
Education: Offering Students the Chance to a Valuable Experience
All the above options require you to use your 3D printer to create something. This one here is independent of personal skillsets and creative mood, but also comes with a huge social plus. Simply, offer your machine for the higher good! Renting 3D printers to schools and colleges is a way not to just earn some cash, but also to play a positive role in your community.
Many schools often lack the necessary infrastructure to enhance theory with practical application and to take the whole educational experience up a notch. Relative projects have shown that using a 3D printer for Science, Technology, and Mathematics (STEM) benefits students in several ways: among others, engaging with a 3D printer helped with concentration issues and raised interest in the classroom. Think about it; this is a way for you to get some buck in the bank by essentially just sitting there, while also being a benefactor to your local school. If that’s not a win-win scenario, then what is it?
3D printers promote interest in the classroom, photo from Unsplash.
An Extra Idea (Disclaimer: the author accepts no responsibility for the quality of the idea provided)
Print your very own gun and rob a bank with it! Technically, it can make this list. Practically, this is again a terrible, terrible idea. So, nope. Just don’t.
There you have it. 3D printers are not only fun to have, but also a very interesting source of income. It’s really up to you how you will end up using yours. Just don’t forget to have fun (and be legal) while at it!
Need ideas for possible 3D printed creations that will help you start your own business? Then check out the inspiration section on our website.