Originally published September 9, 2020. Updated December 23, 2020. Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. Read the disclosure for more info.
Top Ways to Make Money With a 3D Printer in 2021
3D printing is a relatively new way of producing products. It involves creating a model of your product that enables your printer to craft the item to the specifications you set. There are many benefits of 3D printing including the ease of use and the ability to produce one-off items without costing a fortune.
For consumers, 3D printers make great gifts that can spark creativity and inspire entrepreneurship. The capabilities are almost limitless, including the ability to make a profit with your printer.
Starting a 3D printing side hustle can be an excellent way to make money as it requires a relatively low investment and a minor learning curve to get started.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know including how to make money with a 3D printer, where to buy your printer, how much a 3D printer costs, and tips to becoming a more experienced 3D printer. Let’s get started!
Where to Buy 3D Printer
You can purchase a 3D printing from many online stores including Amazon or at a local craft store. You can even find some 3D printers at local electronics or hardware stores.
In addition to the printer itself, you’ll also need to purchase the materials to create your products. There are several different types of printers that use different materials. ABS plastic, PLA, nylon, epoxy resins, and polycarbonate are some of the most common. You can find these supplies online or through your local craft stores.
How Much Does a 3D Printer Cost
Each 3D printer has unique features that can impact the price of your printer and how much money you can make. It’s reasonable to expect to spend anywhere from $200 to well over $10,000 to purchase a 3D printer.
Speed of Printing
The speed of your printer is one of the biggest price factors. Printers that can produce quickly can cost much more than those that take longer. If you plan to print larger items or you need your items in a rush, you might want to consider purchasing a faster printer.
The size of your 3D printer will add additional costs if you desire the ability to print larger items. It’s typically wise to overestimate your needs at first so that you are capable of printing items somewhat larger than you initially thought.
Some printers are capable of constructing items that are made of various colors. This will add additional costs compared to a single color printer. Printing multicolored structures will also slow down your machine making a high-speed printer even more essential for some.
Resolution comes up whenever debating any style of printer, three dimensional or not. Just as a printer that can’t print at 300dpi will produce clean and crisp outputs, a 3D printer with a higher resolution can produce items that are smoother and more precise.
If you plan to craft items that are detailed oriented, you should opt to purchase a 3D printer that offers high-quality printing.
Best 3D Printers for Beginners
If you’re just getting started with 3D printing, the options can be overwhelming. There are thousands of options each with their own unique features that you may not fully understand yet. We’ve put together some of the best options for those new to 3D printing.
da Vinci Nano ($189)
The da Vinci Nano offers great flexibility to those new to 3D printing. It is portable, lightweight, and comes preassembled with user-friendly software that is compatible with both Windows and Mac devices.
Monoprice Select Mini ($220)
For those looking to spend a little bit more, the Monoprice Select Mini offers some features found on higher-end decides without the outrageous price tag. Just like the da Vinci Nano, it also comes preassembled and with user-friendly software compatible with both Windows and Mac devices.
Flash Forge Finder ($299)
If you want to take another step up, the Flash Forge Finder is a great option for those who need a quieter device. It features a portable design that is completely enclosed, keeping your surroundings safe. It includes some filament and also supplies user-friendly software compatible with both Windows and Mac devices.
How to Save Money on a 3D Printer
Because the cost of a 3D printer can be enormous, we’ve put together a few tips to help you save money on your new machine.
If opting to purchase your printer at a major retailer, you might be able to benefit from bonus reward categories in which you earn more than the average rewards rate. Check to see if your purchases qualify before swiping your card.
Buy Gift Cards Online
You can often find used gift cards online at for less than the amount on the card. It’s common to finds these cards at more than 20% off the full amount. By purchasing a few of these cards, you can save a fortune on the cost of your printer.
Use Price Checkers
Never make a purchase before checking to see if you can pick it up elsewhere at a lower price. Apps like Honey or Rakuten can do this for you. Before you checkout, it will scan the web in search of a lower price. Be sure to check that the compared models are identical before completing a purchase if you are able to find it elsewhere.
Shop Used or Refurbished 3D Printers
Used options can save you hundreds on your next 3D printer and many times you will find that they are in top quality. You can browse online e-commerce giants like eBay or Amazon to find these options. It’s a good idea to ensure your product is fully functional before making an offer or completing your purchase.
What Can I Make With a 3D Printer?
One of the benefits of 3D printing is the ability to construct just about anything. From chip clips to toilet paper holders, the items you can produce are endless. Some of the most common items to make money with 3D printing include:
- Game pieces
- Home decor
- Figurines or action figures
- Chip clips
- Device accessories
- Bottle openers
- Business cardholders
- Camera slider
- Measuring spoons
- Desk or paper trays
- Screwdrivers or other basic tools
- Water jugs or bottles
What 3D Printing Software Do I Need?
3D printers on there own are not very useful unless you are capable of creating a blueprint for what it needs to create. To make this blueprint or 3D model, you will need software that is compatible with your printer.
Many printers will read STL or VRML filetypes to produce items so ensure your software if has these outputs.
Note: You should always examine the instruction manual for your printer to know which filetype is required so that you can purchase the correct software.
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How to Make Money With a 3D Printer
Owning a 3D printer can become an income-producing asset, similar to stocks, real estate, or your knowledge. You can print many different items to sell, rent, or keep for yourself. Below are some of the best ways to make money with a 3D printer.
Make Money Renting out your printer
As mentioned above, a 3D printer can cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well over $10,000. You can take advantage of this by renting out your printer to others looking to use your machine. Post your item for rent on social media or local classifieds.
You should have a simple contract that details the terms of the rental and specifies when the printer is due back and what happens if the printer is returned broken.
The amount you can rent your printer for will vary on the model.
Many entrepreneurs and inventors work to build prototypes of their potential products in the early stages of their business. Before 3D printing, this was a common stopgap between becoming a successful inventor as it required a rather large investment and working with a firm to produce one.
Instead, offer to create prototypes for inventors. You can charge an hourly rate for your consultation and an additional fee for the product you print depending on the complexity of the item. Many 3D printing services will charge outlandish prices, offering you a great opportunity.
Building prototypes can be an excellent way to make money with a 3D printer because it is a necessary step for every business looking to create a physical product.
Start a 3D Printing Service
Some people might want to have a product produced with a 3D printer for multiple reasons. You can consider starting a service to print products on demand.
The amount you charge for your printing services ranges depending on the complexity of the project and the time it will take to design.
By starting a print on demand business, making money with 3D printing can be a breeze.
Create and Sell Products to Make Money
Because 3D printing is so versatile, you can manufacture your own products to sell online. Eyeglasses, tennis rackets, figurines, and many other products can be produced with your printer, giving you an opportunity to cash in.
You can list your items for sale on e-commerce sites like eBay, Amazon, Etsy, or you could consider creating your own online store to sell your products. Either way, selling your products is a great way to make some additional cash.
Many 3D printed items are quite simple to design and build making it a perfect option for beginners.
Offer 3D Printing Classes
Consider teaching courses on 3D printing, showing others the equipment and software you need to get started and how to craft their first item.
Obviously, you’ll need to own a 3D printer and be knowledgeable about the techniques and methods of becoming a successful 3D printer.
You can perform individual consultations or consider using a larger space to hold larger classes. You can charge on a per session basis for your services.
Create YouTube Videos
Because 3D printing is relatively new, there are many people who do not fully understand how it works. Create YouTube videos to teach others the basics of 3D printing.
If your videos gain traction, you can benefit from advertising or affiliate marketing to build an additional income stream. You can team up with several printer manufacturers to become an affiliate and receive a proceed from each purchase you facilitate.
Become a 3D Printing Troubleshooter or Technician
As with any piece of equipment, over years of use, it’s bound to break at some point. If you understand the internals of a 3D printer, you could charge clients to fix their machines.
Because 3D printers can be extremely expensive, most would rather have their machine fixed rather than purchasing an entirely new machine.
It’s best to charge an hourly rate for your services as you may not know what the project will entail at first.
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Review Different 3D Printers
With so many printers on the market, people are looking to decide which ones are worth their money. You can review many different printers helping consumers decide which is right for them. You can post your reviews on a website or by creating video reviews.
Create Home Decor
Home decor is commonly made of plastic, making it a great candidate to print with a 3D printer. You can then choose to sell your decor or keep it for your own home. Because home decor is so popular, these printed items can sell fast. This can be a quick and simple way to make money with 3D printing.
Create a 3D Printing Resources Website
Create a website dedicated to 3D printing to make money on each visitor that accesses your website. You can also sell tools, supplies, and materials that other 3D printers might be looking for. You could also create a beginner’s guide that shows new 3D printers how to get started.
Create Phone Cases or Accessories
Because mobile phones are so prominent in today’s society, you can take advantage by creating custom phone cases for users. You could take requests for different designs and build them as requests arrive. Phone owners would be willing to pay for these custom pieces, giving you a great opportunity to make money with your 3D printer.
Print Cups, Mugs, or Cutlery
By printing these household essentials, you can save money and get creative. You can also sell your items online to make money with your printer. Consider making custom pieces that collectors might envy to increase your profits.
Create Sports Equipment
Items like tennis rackets, swimming paddles, and whiffle balls are great options to print with your printer. You can then keep them to yourself or sell them online through e-commerce sites or your own website. There are many different 3D printed items you can consider making.
Flip Broken Printers
You can purchase broken 3D printers online through eBay or Amazon and if you have the knowledge to fix them, you can sell them for a profit. You’ll most likely need some basic tools to complete simple fixes, but there are no guarantees.
Flipping 3D printers can be an excellent business idea to start making money from your skills.
Invest in 3D printing and Technology Stocks
While this is not the most direct way to start making money from your 3D printer, you can choose to invest in companies that have a stake in the3D printing atmosphere.
You might choose to invest in a company that makes 3D printers or a company that sells 3D printed items.
Create a 3D Design Service
Some potential customers might not want to mess with the headache of designing a product before printing. You can offer to build 3D designs for clients and charge them for your services. By creating a 3D model for your customer, they can print the item on their own.
How Much Money Can You Make 3D Printing?
One of the best parts of starting a 3D printing business or side hustle is the amount of money you can make. Like many businesses, there is no limit to the amount of money you can make. As long as you are capable or producing products or monetizing your printer, you can make money.
Most 3D printing side hustles can produce anywhere from 5 to 6 figures depending on how you choose to monetize your printer or skills.
By selling products online and lowering your productions costs, you could easily push your profits to $50,000 annually or more.
Is 3D Printing a Good Business?
3D printing is a tremendous business to start in 2021. As 3D printing continues to grow in popularity, your knowledge and services will become even more valuable.
By combining multiple income streams with your printer, your earnings can grow exponentially.
How Long Does it Take To Make Money 3D Printing?
If you have skills with 3D printing, you might be capable of making money much quicker than those in the beginning stages. Your expertise can help you to be less wasteful and more efficient with your time.
For beginners, you can expect to make money with a 3D printer within 6-9 months depending on your skills. You’ll need to dedicate some time to learn how to design and build 3D printed items.
For more seasoned printers, you might be capable of making money within a couple of months depending on how you chose to make money with a 3D printer.
How to Become a Better 3D Printer
For those new to 3D printing, you might quickly notice that you can’t expect perfection right off the bat. Becoming a successful 3D printer will take time, knowledge, and a lot of practice.
Try New Things
To become a great 3D printer, you must diverge from your comfort zone and explore new types of printing. If your forte is printing various types of cups, try to expand your printing to other options like plates or bowls. This will help you to become a better overall printer.
Give it Time
As mentioned above, excelling at 3D printing comes with years of experience. If at first you do not succeed, try again, and again, and again. This experience will help you to become a superior 3D printer.
3D printing has evolved since it was first introduced. Those who have mastered the skill continuously learn the latest trends and keep up with new developments. You should aim to learn as much as you can and continue your knowledge to become a great 3D printer.
Use Different Materials or Printers
Some printers are flat out better than others. And some materials are better for creating certain pieces. By upgrading your equipment or materials, the quality of your output will also increase.
How to Sell 3D Printed Products
Printing and selling products can be an easy way to get paid for the use of your printer. Whether you decide to start a print on demand business or 3D print home decor, you’ll need to find a way to sell your products or services.
Social media can be an excellent way to promote your services and 3D printed products. You can ask your friends and family to share your content in hopes of finding other potential customers interested in your service or business.
Selling 3D printed items can also be done through e-commerce sites or a company website. You might consider investing some money to build a website to sell your products.
Final Thoughts on Making Money with a 3D Printer
Making money with 3D printing is easier than you might think. There are many different ways you can monetize your printer, some being easier than others. From creating products to sell online, renting out your printer itself, starting a 3D printing service, even teaching others how to 3D print, there’s no better time to make money with your 3D printer. Best of all, anyone can make money 3D printing at any age (that includes teenagers!).
You’ll need to spend some time learning how to operate, design, and build 3D printed items but once you have the knowledge, you can earn a significant income with your skills!