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How To Make Money With a 3D Printer in 2024

How To Make Money With a 3D Printer

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If you’re a 3D printer owner who needs money like yesterday, this post is for you. Maybe you just got your printer for personal needs. Or perhaps it has been sitting in the store since you stopped using it years ago. 

I considered selling my 3D printer after it occupied a lot of space in my house while doing nothing apart from being idle. 

I thought I had no more use for it, but before I could sell it, a friend opened my eyes to the business opportunities I was missing out on.

This article compiles different ways to make money with your 3D printer. So, instead of letting your machine gather dust, dive in for insight on how to put it to good use.  

Whether you’re looking for a full-time venture or a side hustle to supplement your day job, 3D printing is a fantastic way to go, especially if you already own a machine.

How To Make Money With a 3D Printer

Are you a hands-on person, or do you prefer setting up businesses that yield passive income in the long run?

Whichever speaks to you, there’s enough pie for everyone in 3D printing. You can delve into crafts like jewelry-making, creating architectural models, or custom gifts. 

If you’re more concerned about making money while you sleep, consider options like creating educational material or renting out your printer. 

Here are some excellent ways to make money with a 3D printer:

1. Offer 3D Printing Services

The business is quite competitive, but there’s a high demand for printing services. You can offer local printing services for extra cash if you have a good-quality printer and the required skills. 

One disadvantage of running a printing business is it’s capital intensive. 

High-quality professional 3D printers usually cost between $1,500 and $20,000, but consumer ones can be as low as $500. 

Don’t rush to expand your business before it even starts. Invest in one printer, build a customer base, and then upgrade and grow once more orders start coming in. 

2. Sell Personalized Jewelry 

Jewelry is an in-demand niche worth tapping into if you possess unique 3D printing skills. 

People are always looking for new jewelry designs to either themselves or to gift their loved ones. 

The ability to customize jewelry opens up new possibilities for creativity, especially with complex geometric patterns. And you can work with any material, from resin to plastic or metal. 

Some jewelry pieces you can make with your 3D printer include:

  • Necklaces 
  • Rings 
  • Bracelets 
  • Cufflinks 
  • Earrings 
  • Anklets 
  • Brooches 

3D-printed jewelry is popular on Etsy, and with unique designs and a loyal customer base, you can easily make a living from it. 

Simple earring designs cost as low as $2, while sellers charge thousands for statement pieces. Your pricing depends on the complexity of your design, material, and expertise. 

You must also remember to factor listing, transaction, and shipping costs into your prices when selling items on e-commerce platforms like Etsy. This will enable you to avoid losses. 

3. Rapid Prototyping 

Helping entrepreneurs, engineers, and manufacturers bring their designs to life through rapid prototyping is a tangible way to make money with a 3D printer. 

Professionals usually prefer to develop their prototypes using 3D printing over traditional methods because the former is fast and flexible, allowing for easy alterations. 

Furthermore, 3D printing allows for high precision, even with complex designs.

Here’s the icing on the cake: you can make as much as $100,000 on a single project. However, small projects can fetch as low as $100. 

The price depends on several factors, such as design complexity, materials, and the prototype’s service scope.  

4. Create an Online 3D Printing Course 

You can never go wrong with educational content, regardless of your industry. Creating an online course on 3D printing is the perfect passive income opportunity to see you making money years later. 

Designing for 3D Printing with Fusion 360 is a course on Udemy by Vladimir Mariano. It costs $64.99, and over 30,000 students have enrolled so far. Mind you, the course’s last update was in 2021. 

You don’t have to create anything complex. Just compile lectures for beginners and work your way up. 

You can offer different subscription tiers at various prices. The higher tiers can access exclusive video lectures and one-on-one sessions with you, the instructor. 

Once your course is up and running, you can upload it to various platforms, like Thrivecart, Udemy, or Skillshare.

Selling your online course on your website is also an excellent idea, and it can help you build your brand as an educator in the long run. 

If you’re passionate about teaching but don’t want to create an online course, consider partnering with schools to provide physical 3D printing sessions to their students, especially in engineering.

You can also work with them to produce 3D models and prototypes for science fairs and educational purposes. 

5. Rent Out Your 3D Printer

Are you looking for ways to make your 3D printer work for you while you sleep? If so, renting it out is an excellent option. 

How much you earn depends on the type of printer, quality, and duration of the hire. You can make between $200 and $500 weekly. 

You can rent it out to developers looking to roll out new product designs or to schools during their science fairs. 

Another option is renting out your 3D printer on Fat Llama. This peer-to-peer lending platform lets you find a renter for virtually anything. 

Simply sign up on the platform, upload photos of your printer, add a detailed description, quote your price, and wait for renters to reach out. 

6. Create and Sell Custom Gifts 

Making and selling custom gifts is among the most popular ways to make money with your 3D printer. However, having many players in the market doesn’t mean there’s no space for you. 

There are many product options in this venture. Choosing where to specialize depends on your design skills.

Some common custom gift options to make with your 3D printer include:

  • Pet collars 
  • Bookmarks 
  • Door signs 
  • Lithophanes 
  • Keychains 

Personalized gifts are an excellent option if you possess top-notch design skills. However, they have low-profit margins. 

One way around this is establishing your brand and building a loyal customer base on which you can capitalize. 

The best part is the demand for custom gifts can only continue to rise as long as people celebrate birthdays and holidays. So, you might as well give it a shot. 

7. Start a 3D Printing YouTube Channel 

Starting a YouTube channel dedicated to 3D printing is a superb strategy for making money with your 3D printer, especially if you enjoy teaching. 

You can begin by creating simple 3D printing tutorials for beginners and, over time, work your way up to intermediate and advanced learners. 

Starting and maintaining a YouTube channel may seem challenging, but you can amass a following by creating high-quality educational videos. 

Engaging with your audience in the comments is also a nice way to inspire loyalty. To increase your following, consider collaborating with famous YouTubers. 

3D Printing Nerd is a famous YouTube channel from which you can borrow a leaf. The owner, Joel, uses the channel to create 3D printing tutorials and review 3D printers.

Once you grow your following significantly, consider monetizing your channel through affiliate marketing, brand partnerships, and selling 3D models. 

8. Sell Architectural Models 

Still seeking ways to make money with your 3D printer? Developing and selling architectural models is an excellent idea. 

You can work with architects, educational institutions, interior designers, and real estate developers to bring their projects to life, including:

  • Apartment buildings
  • Urban development 
  • Shopping malls 
  • Factories 
  • Park layouts 
  • Furniture arrangement 

3D printing makes it possible to develop even the most complex structures with high precision and accuracy. It also offers the flexibility to make minor adjustments quickly. 

9. Start a 3D Printing Consulting Business 

Offering consulting services is an excellent way to leverage your knowledge of 3D printing. You can make over $60 hourly helping people with their 3D printing projects.

You can offer assistance in the following areas:

  • Selection of materials 
  • Printer selection 
  • Design optimization 
  • Cost analysis 
  • Maintenance of machines 

Start by creating a consulting website and adding a detailed description of your services and rate card. 

You can leverage social media and platforms like LinkedIn to land clients from there. Freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr are also hubs for clients who need help with 3D printing. 

10. Create and Sell Game Components 

Gaming enthusiasts create a massive demand for 3D printing and its applications in the field. If you’re feeling creative, you can create a battlefield, complete with markers and terrain for a game like Star Wars: Legion. 

Miniature figurines for a tabletop game like Dungeons & Dragons will also fetch a reasonable sum. 

You can also curate board game accessories for Chess, Scrabble, and Monopoly to enhance the gaming experience. 

The opportunity to monetize 3D printing in the gaming industry doesn’t stop there. You can also create collectibles for popular fandoms like Marvel, Pokemon, Lord of the Rings, and Nintendo. 

Tips for Making Money With a 3D Printer 

Here are some helpful tips for making money with a 3D printer:

Do your Due Diligence 

It goes without saying that 3D printing is a profitable venture. However, the high income potential doesn’t exempt it from research. 

Doing your due diligence is about taking time to understand the market, analyze consumer behavior, and pick a niche. 

Choosing the right niche where there are too many options can be challenging. 

However, with adequate research into your target audience, you should choose something that strikes a balance between high income and customer satisfaction. 

Take time to understand your potential customer’s pain points and brainstorm ways you can use 3D printing to fill an existing market gap. 

Evaluate the barriers to entry, like capital required, to get a clear picture of the best ways to enter the market without going out of your way or using too much money. 

Select the Right 3D Printer

I’m sure cost is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about selecting the right 3D printer. 

While the machine’s price is an important consideration, there are many factors to consider when selecting a 3D printer for commercial purposes. 

Firstly, you should consider product quality. Your machine should be able to produce high-quality prints that meet your customers’ expectations. 

The printer should also be easy to use, set up, manage, and maintain. Compromising on this may lead to higher maintenance costs in the long run. 

Customers are likely concerned about speed and accuracy, in addition to quality. Everyone is interested in reducing a product’s time to market because that will most likely lead to more profit. 

That said, your 3D printer should be fast enough to produce print quickly without compromising precision. 

Promote Your Products and Services 

One mistake most people in the printing business make is failing to market their goods and services. How will your target audience find you if they know nothing about your existence?

Marketing is an essential business component, and 3D printing is no exception. Promoting your services allows you to showcase your skills and tap into a broader market beyond the confines of your locality. 

Social media is one of the best ways to market your products without spending a dime. Sign up, create a catchy profile, and upload your first post. Easy peasy!

From there, connect with people in the 3D printing field to land passionate and loyal customers. You can also collaborate with social media influencers to create promotional posts about 3D printing. 

Offer Custom Options 

There are endless opportunities for customization in 3D printing as customers continue to develop new designs for prototypes, gifts, and jewelry. 

By establishing yourself as a talented 3D printing business person, you can become a prominent player in the space and attract many customers. 

That said, making a living from customizing pieces is possible as long as you’re skilled in the craft. 

Start by creating a website and adding a detailed description of your services. Then, leverage platforms like Upwork, LinkedIn, and Indeed to attract global clients. 

Landing your first gig may be challenging, but it opens doors for subsequent opportunities once you do. 

Consistently deliver high-quality products and exceptional customer service to foster customer loyalty and encourage referrals. 

Pay Attention To Legal Considerations 

Staying up to date with copyright policies is crucial, especially if you’re incorporating other people’s ideas in your designs. 

It’s also wise to evaluate privacy policies and terms and conditions before joining platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and Etsy. 

These platforms take a percentage of your proceeds, so knowing that beforehand enables you to calculate your income potential on a particular platform and determine profit margins. 

It doesn’t make sense to sell on a platform where you’re making more losses than profits. 

Provide Exceptional Customer Service 

Have you ever heard the phrase “the customer is always right?” A customer’s word can be a deal-maker or deal-breaker for your business.

Therefore, you must provide excellent customer service to encourage positive client reviews. Happy clients may even be willing to tip you, increasing your overall income. 

Customers usually pay attention to star ratings and client reviews when seeking freelancers on platforms like Upwork. Therefore, the higher your rating, the higher your chances of landing the job. 

Also, the next time your customer needs a similar service, they’ll most likely contact you if you’ve produced high-quality work for them before. They’ll also likely recommend you to their networks.

Another way to ensure good customer service besides producing high-quality prints is engaging with your clients. You can do this by responding to their queries promptly and updating them on the progress of the work. 

Also, asking for clarification is always wise if you don’t understand the client’s instructions. 

The Best Selling Crafts to 3D Print 

If you’re considering making crafts using 3D printing, here are some in-demand options:

  • Keychains 
  • Collectibles like Pokemon figurines 
  • Art prints 
  • Sculptures 
  • Planters 
  • Home Decor 
  • Toys 
  • Vases 
  • Jewelry 
  • Pet accessories like name tags 
  • Tech accessories like phone cases 

Pros and Cons of 3D Printing Business 

Here are some upsides and downsides of a 3D printing business. They’re worth considering if you want to enter the market.


  • Broad market opportunities, especially with customization 
  • High profit margins in some ventures 
  • Opportunity for passive income 
  • There’s a growing demand for 3D prints 
  • Opportunity for creativity and innovation 


  • Capital intensive, especially purchasing printers 
  • Requires technical expertise and experience in computer-aided design 
  • The market is competitive 
  • Producing a single product can be time-consuming 
  • Intellectual property concerns 

Extra Reading – Surprising Ways To Make Money With AI

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is 3D Printing Profitable?

Yes. 3D printing is a highly profitable venture that offers numerous money-making opportunities. Generally, how much you make depends on the niche you delve into. 

For instance, you can make between $100 and $100,000 on a single rapid prototyping project. However, jewelry costs range from as low as $2 apiece to thousands of dollars for complex designs. 

Online courses can fetch about $30-$70 per subscription, but these can yield more in the long run as more students enroll. 

Research thoroughly and choose a niche where you can fully leverage your skills to reach your highest income potential. 

How Much Does It Cost To Start 3D Printing?

The cost of starting a 3D printing business can vary significantly because there are numerous factors to consider, such as:

  • Cost of printers
  • Maintenance costs  
  • Software 
  • Materials 
  • Labor 
  • Marketing costs 
  • Space and utilities 

Generally, you’ll need about $5,000 to $250,000, depending on whether you’re starting a small or large-scale business and whether your business will be product or service-based. 

Is 3D Printing a Good Career Choice?

3D printing is a good career choice, but you must think beyond buying and operating a 3D printer. 

You need complementary skills like:

  • Computer-aided design 
  • Problem-solving skills 
  • Creativity 
  • Communication skills 

You must possess good communication skills and business acumen to excel in 3D printing as a career. You must be able to market your business and engage with consumers effectively. 

Can You Make a Living Off 3D Printing?

Making a living off 3D printing alone is possible, but you need to establish your brand properly and build a loyal pool of regular customers. 

This may sound challenging, especially if you’re a beginner, but it’s not impossible. Start by acquiring the necessary skills from YouTube or online, or enroll in courses on Udemy or Coursera. 

From there, formulate a business plan, draft a budget, and purchase your printer and supplies. Next, employ marketing strategies to attract customers. 

After establishing a customer base, provide top-notch services and high-quality products to encourage referrals, positive reviews, and return customers. 

Final Thoughts 

There are numerous ways to make money with a 3D printer, and I hope this article inspires you to capitalize on one or more of these opportunities. 

Establishing yourself as a prominent player in 3D printing may be challenging initially, but you can pull it off with perseverance, dedication, and focus.

Choose a niche you’re passionate about to maintain focus and motivation, especially during the low-demand periods. 

Also, ensure that you gain skills relevant to your niche beforehand to deliver exactly what your customer envisions. 

Looking for other ways to make money? Check out these posts:

Lydia is a personal finance expert and the founder of Sproutinue, a personal finance site helping you find legit ways to make money, save money, and achieve financial freedom. She has been featured on various major financial publications, including Investopedia, Business Insider, GoBankingRates, and more.

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