7 Creative Ways to Make Money with a 3D Printer

While 3D printers aren’t as rare as they were ten years ago, they’re still not an item most people have in their homes.

This means, if you own one, you have the capability of creating items the average consumer can’t. And if you know a lot about 3D printing or can make awesome designs, you can earn some side cash doing so.

Here are seven creative ways to make money with a 3D printer.

What Can I Make with a 3D Printer?

3D Printers work by turning computer-aided designs into plastic models. They do this by starting at the bottom and adding layer over layer until the final design turns into a 3D print.

While these printers work much like inkjet versions, they don’t print with ink. Instead, 3D printers use plastic. After the plastic has been melted, printed, and dried, the result is similar to the feeling of a lego.

If this is your first 3D printer, you’re probably wondering what you can make – in all honesty, anything you can think of and design.

Here are some popular ideas:

  • Product prototypes
  • Planters
  • Magnets
  • Toys
  • Soap Dish
  • Cup
  • Personalized items (dog bowls w/ name, pencil holder w/ company name, etc.)
  • Small figurines
  • Holiday decorations
  • Trophies

While there are many items you can make, the final quality will depend upon your design, your printer, and any finishing touches needed.

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer: Top 7 Ways

1. Sell Your Prints on Etsy
2. Offer 3D Print Services Locally
3. Create a 3D Print YouTube Channel and Blog
4. Teach 3D Print Classes
5. Sell 3D Model Designs
6. Build a Course on 3D Printing
7. Offer 3D Printing Repair Services

1. Sell Your Prints on Etsy

If designing is what you love to do, you can make money selling your 3D prints on Etsy. 

A quick search of “3D printed” on the Etsy homepage will show you just how popular these items are. Some of the 3D prints you’ll find have several hundred positive reviews.

If you want to sell your 3D prints on Etsy, the first thing to do is choose what kind of items you’d like to sell.

It’s vital to narrow yourself down in the beginning so you can learn how to conquer one market instead of spreading yourself too thin. 

Some of the most popular 3D printed niches on Etsy include:

  • Planters
  • Earings
  • Toys
  • Miniatures
  • Vases
  • Files

You’ll also need to determine whether you want to offer personalized services or keep everything standard. Offering personalized products may help you differentiate yourself or initially get more sales, but it’s also far more time-consuming.

Of course, there is one downside to selling on Etsy we should cover…

If you come up with a winning design, other people will likely copy it. So, to be super successful, you need to accumulate a ton of positive reviews or continually create new designs.

This can be a lot of work, but if you’re the creative type and are up to the challenge, selling your prints is a great side business idea.

2. Offer 3D Print Services Locally

If you don’t like selling products on Etsy or are trying to add a new income stream to your business, consider offering your services locally.

Your success will depend on where you live, current competition, and who you know. 

If you start advertising your services and have all your friends and family spread the word, you could quickly land quite a few clients.

You can offer your 3D printing services to:

  • Business owners needing prototypes
  • Educators needing specific models (a planet, a heart, etc.)
  • Consumers wanting personalized products
  • Coaches/sports teams wanting unique trophies
  • Anyone that wants to bring their design to life

Honestly, unless you have an extensive personal network, this probably won’t earn a full-time income all the time. But if you play your cards right and advertise personalized items around Christmas, you could do a large volume of seasonal business.

3. Create a 3D Print YouTube Channel and Blog

If you know anything about me, you know that YouTube has been one of the biggest assets to my business. It’s helped me grow a multiple six-figure-per-year affiliate marketing business and can help you do the same.

If you like being on camera and prefer to teach rather than sell products, you can start a YouTube channel around 3D Printing.

You can show users how to create their CADs for printing on the channel. You can also do reviews of 3D models, talk about best sellers on Etsy, and any other tips and tricks you know.

While it takes a while to build up a successful YouTube channel, you can get there if you put in the time and work.

You can monetize your YouTube channel through ads and affiliate links.

Plus, you can take all of your videos, turn them into articles, and place them on a blog. This way, when someone does a Google search on 3D printing, they’re likely to land on either your YouTube channel or blog.

You’ll make money from display ads and affiliate links when they do.

4. Teach 3D Print Classes

Do you like to teach? If there’s demand in your area, you can put on a class covering 3D printing. 

You can make the class for total beginners – going over design basics, how to use the printer, best tips, and tricks, etc.

Or, if you’re pretty experienced, you can host classes teaching intermediate users how to create better designs.

You can teach classes in group settings, one-on-one, or online. 

5. Sell 3D Model Designs

If CAD is more your thing than the actual printing process, you can make money selling your designs.

In fact, selling 3D models is so popular that there are marketplaces that cater to this specifically.

Here are a few marketplaces you can sell your 3D models:

Turbo Squid – TurboSquid is a Shutterstock company and is one of the biggest marketplaces for professional 3D models. On it, you can receive a 40-60% royalty rate on your designs. You can also sign up as an affiliate and receive a 15-20% commission. 

Etsy – If you’re a complete beginner and are looking for an easy place to start selling your files, try Etsy. (Just be warned that many of the current 3D model files for sale on this platform are NSFW style.)

CGTrader – CGTrader is a little different than the previous two sites listed. Because not only can you sell your 3D models, but you can sign up as a freelancer. Then, when a business comes to the site that needs a 2D project turned into 3D, they can hire you to get the job done.

If you’re not interested in freelancing but only want to sell your models, you’ll be happy to know that CG Trader offers some of the highest royalties. You can earn up to 80% royalties.

CubeRush – With Cube Rush, you can open your own store showcasing all of your 3D models and 3D print models you’d like to sell. Opening a store is easy, and you’ll get paid twice a month as long as you have at least $20 worth of sales in your account.

6. Build a Course on 3D Printing

Do you like teaching, just not in person? If your answer is yes, create and sell an online course. 

You probably already know, online courses are extremely popular. In fact, some creators make a full-time living selling the educational courses they create.

If you have exceptional 3D printing skills, you can do the same.

First, you’ll need to outline your course and decide how to teach it. You can use video, text, or both. 

Then, you’ll need to choose a course platform and create the course.

After putting the finishing touches on the course, you’ll need to market it. The way you do this will depend upon the course platform you chose and whether or not you already have an audience.

(If you have YouTube subscribers or blog readers that already value your content, you’ll have a much easier time selling your course.)

If you don’t already have an audience, your best bet will be to create your course on a platform like Udemy that has built-in buyers.

7. Offer 3D Printing Repair Services

Like any other type of printer, the 3D versions come with their fair share of issues – clogged nozzles, printers that just won’t print, and deformed printing, just to name a few.

If you enjoy troubleshooting and fixing these errors, you can side hustle by offering repair services. 

According to PayScale, the average printer technician earns $17.16 per hour. But since you’re fixing a more advanced 3D printer, you can charge a far higher hourly rate of up to $50.

If you want to start as a 3D printer technician, you can create a website that lists your services. You’ll also want to create a Google listing for your business.

This way, whenever someone in your area searches for a printer repair, they’ll land on your website or Google listing.

Final Thoughts

If you want to make extra money with your 3D printer, you certainly can. Of course, getting started isn’t always easy, but luckily, there are many ideas. No matter your personality or skill set, you can find something.

If you’re looking for a fun side hustle, consider selling prints on Etsy or selling your 3D model files. While each may be a slow starting, they can end up as full-blown businesses within a few years.

Here are a few more side hustles you can check out:

If you like being on camera or prefer to teach, consider an online business about the best 3D printing practices. You can start a blog, YouTube channel, and even create a course.

Looking for more ways to earn money?

Check out the video below to learn how I went from $0 to $3,000,000:

Affiliate Disclaimer: I may (and probably do) receive affiliate commissions from any products I recommend or links I put on this page. My opinions are my own but they are truthful and I do my best to recommend products that I have vetted and/or purchased myself.

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