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How to Make Money with 3D Printing [2021 Beginners Guide]

3D printing has been around for a few years now, and businesses are starting to take notice. 3D printers are popular because they make prototypes in hours or minutes instead of days or weeks. They also allow designers to create complex shapes that would be impossible with traditional manufacturing techniques.

With all the benefits associated with this new technology, it’s no wonder why more people are looking into how they can use them in their business. We’ll show you four ways you can start making cash with 3D printing!

There are several ways to make money with a 3D printer, but the most popular way is through creating custom products that have been ordered by customers. This can be anything from jewellery and toys, to household items, or even art pieces.

One of the best things about producing these goods yourself is being able to make the designs you want without having to deal with a factory. By offering printing services you make cash.

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How to make Money with Clients Orders

Custom Orders

You can print 3D items on demand, as custom orders. This is the most common way to use a printer in your business.

Replacement Parts

Print replacement/spare parts. Many businesses are catching on to this little-known way that they can use a printer in their business already.

Some printers have an add-on that prints metal, making it possible to create functional prototypes of objects you’re designing!

Businesses like car repair shops, coffee chains, and even bicycle stores are starting to print spare parts instead of buying them from suppliers! This saves cash because they don’t have to pay the markup from suppliers.

You can supply the parts to an engineering workshop. Instead of buying these oversized tools from suppliers, why not print them? They can save money because it costs less to replace a single part than buy an entirely new machine.

Medical Devices

Print custom medical devices. Working with a specialist, design and print custom medical devices. For example, a podiatrist (foot doctor) who orders custom shoe orthotics.

Company Branding

Print customized products. Print items that match their colour and logo branding. You can take orders from companies and then print them in bulk once they’re ready.

Promotional Materials

Print promotional materials. There is a reason companies like Kinkos exist – businesses need help printing documents! You can be the 3D printer equivalent to Kinkos.

Businesses use advertising giveaways as well-known and effective marketing strategies – people love free stuff! With your own 3D printer, you can make branded items like bottle openers, mugs, or key chains. Companies can promote their brand while giving out free promotional gifts!

“Made in the USA / Made in Canada” Labels

Print “Made in the USA” or “Made in Canada” labels. Some products are being made overseas because it’s cheaper to do there than here at home. You can 3D print and sell Made in the USA labels! Companies can use these on products or packaging so consumers know where their items are coming from.


Print unique awards. This is another underutilized way of using a printer as your business! You can make promotional trophies for your clients.

Custom Packaging

Print customized packaging for businesses. This is similar to the idea of printing promotional materials, but instead you are selling the packaging that the product arrives in. Businesses can have packaging for their products that match their branding.


Create physical prototypes to test. Another cool use for printers is to create prototypes of your creations! There are many different materials that can be used in these machines, but most people use plastic because it’s so versatile. You could even print metal parts if you had an add-on kit for the machine. The best part about this is how fast a prototype goes from idea to creation! It makes testing products and designs much faster.

Create your own 3D Products to Sell

You could also create your own 3D products to sell. One of the coolest ways to make cash with a printer is by creating your own products!

If you’re crafty enough, it’s possible for almost anyone to design and print their own unique product. This allows you to create customizable gifts or promotional materials that are much more personal than purchasing something from.

Designer Flower Vases

These are a great way to print your own products. If you’re an artist or designer, putting your work on a physical object is one of the best ways to make it more valuable (and saleable). You could even design vases in any shape – they don’t have to be boring containers! Since printers allow you to create things with all sorts of materials, you can make them in interesting shapes.

3D Printed Mobile Phone or PC Cases

Everyone owns cell phones. So why not print phone cases to protect phones? There are all sorts of designs available on the internet just look up “custom mobile cases” and see what pops up! Then create your own unique design to 3D print and sell.

3D Printed Animals

If you’re looking for something a bit more creative, this might be the perfect option. There are many different websites that sell pre-made models of animals in all shapes and sizes. You can also find these on sites like Thingiverse, which gives access to thousands of free designs!

If you have some artistic talent, why not try creating your own?

More Great 3D Design Ideas to Print and Sell

  • Custom shoes such as flip flops or crocs, with your unique design or custom branding
  • Jewellery
  • Home decor, such as book ends, coasters, and more
  • Home staging props, such as fake fruit
  • Business and home office needs such as pen holders, desk organizers, or business card holders
  • Kitchen ware such as measuring spoons, bowls, and more
  • Garden decor and planters
  • Holiday ornaments
  • Toys
  • Key chains, bottle openers, and other knickknacks
  • Custom guitar picks
  • Food!

Where to Sell your 3D Printed Designs

Once you have a design that’s complete, where should you sell it? There are many different options available to use if your business is ready to start selling!

You can create an account on sites like Etsy or eBay and list the product for sale. Another option is to use a site like Shapeways, which lets users upload their designs and make them available for purchase.

If you’re looking to sell your designs as a service, then consider creating an account on Upwork, which is a site that allows businesses and individuals to create profiles where they can offer their services.

You could even start your own website or use social media to promote your products!

12-Year-Old Caleb Crushes it with 3D Printed Key Chains!

Caleb Van Brunt started his key chain business at only 11 years old.

He uses his 3D printer to design and print more than a dozen unique key chains, which he sells on Etsy! He has a 5-star rating with over 100 online sales and counting.

Using his profits from his first 3D printer, he reinvested in his business by upgrading to better and better models with dual colours and more features.

3D printing is a great way for tweens and teens to earn some side income while they’re in school!

Source: Etsy

Other Ways to Make Money with a 3D Printer

Using your 3D printer to, well, print things – seems like the most obvious way to make money. But there are lots of other ways, too!

Offer Classes

Offer 3D printing classes in-person or on YouTube. If you want to make money with a printer but there’s no room in your budget for one of these machines, another option is to offer classes on using them!

Many schools and businesses don’t know about the benefits of having their own printers. If they learn how much time and money can be saved by printing instead of buying items from suppliers, many businesses will be willing to invest in a printer of their own.

One way you can get the word out is by offering classes at local shops or businesses, especially if they have engineering workshops!

You could also start uploading videos on YouTube so that people who don’t live nearby can still learn how to use printers and make money with them.

Become a Printer Technician

You could become a 3D printer technician. If you’re already an expert at how 3D printers work, why not become a printer technician?

You could offer one-time help or create an ongoing contract where you are called in whenever they have problems with their printers!

Buy and Fix Old Printers

Buy and fix old 3D printers to flip at a profit. If you want to invest in a printer, but don’t have the budget for one of these machines, another option is buying old printers! Many businesses would rather buy a refurbished older machine than pay full price for a new one.

One way you could find these old machines is by searching through eBay or Craigslist. You can then fix up the machine and sell it at a profit!

How Much can you Make?

Are you asking yourself how much cash you can make with 3D printing? If you want to start making a fortune with a printer, here’s how much you can make!

3Drific states that you can make an extra $1,000 to $5,000+ with 3D printing. Of course it takes time to build a regular client base. And the amount you make will be different if you are 3D printing full-time versus part-time.

Cost of a 3D Printer

How much does a 3D printer cost? Like most technology, the price of a printer has dropped over time. A DIY kit can cost as little as $200, to less than $500 for an assembled machine.

The ability to get a machine for such a low price has helped push the technology into homes and small businesses.

The average consumer-grade printer will start around $500, but can reach up to $20,000 or more depending on what kind of options you want in a printer. There are even commercial printers with prices reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The price will change depending on what features are included in the printer, but always remember you get what you pay for with printers. While it’s possible to find a very cheap machine that works great, keep in mind that some problems might arise after buying a new machine at such a low cost.

Most Popular 3D Printers on Amazon

The Most Popular Budget 3D Printer on Amazon is the Anet A8 Plus

The Anet A8 Plus is a Prusa i-Series clone that has been around for years. It’s incredibly popular and easy to find on Amazon, which means it can easily be found in the Google searches of potential customers who need something printed out.

Features of the Anet A8 Plus 3D Printer

It comes with an LCD screen. This makes printing more convenient since the user can check on progress without having to be attached via USB.

The machine also includes a heated bed. This means that ABS prints (which require higher heat) will work with this printer, as well as PLA. If you’re looking for an easy way to make money by printing out custom items made from either type of filament, this is a great choice.

It also comes with the ability to add a second extruder. This means that you can print in two colors or materials at once using different filament types. It’s one of the most popular features on more expensive printers and for good reason- it helps make prints look better by allowing gradients or other complex designs to be printed.

It’s controlled by an open-source software suite. There are several different types of slicers available, so you can use whichever one fits your workflow best. The printer also works with Cura and Simplify-CAD for those who prefer them over other options.

Customizable hot-end. The hot-end is the part of the printer that melts and extrudes filament. With this one, you can swap out nozzles to change how wide your prints come out or upgrade it with a fancier version for more accurate print quality.

The Anet A8 Plus is upgradable. This is a good thing if you want to keep the printer for years. You can upgrade it by adding better parts or upgrading its software, so this machine will have staying power even after newer printers are released on the market.

Anet A8 Plus Price

The Anet A8 Plus has an MSRP of $310 US ($390 Canadian), so if you can find it for less, then snap it up.

Check out the current price on Amazon!

(If you’re not seeing an Amazon listing here, turn off your ad blocker.)

Upgrade to the Tenlog TL-D3 3D Printer

If you’re looking for a 3D printer with more features, check out the Tenlog TL-D3! You can print in two colours at once, and make mirror image designs at the same time.

This is the exact printer used by Caleb, the 12-year-old with the 3D printed key chain business spotlighted above.

Features of the Tenlog TL-D3 3D Printer

The Tenlog TL-D3 has dual nozzles that work independently. This allows you to print one design with two colours, or print two products simulatneously. You can choose duplication or mirror mode.

You can also use the two different filaments to print soluble supports to build complex models. After the printing is completed, put it in water and the supports melt away!

The upgraded borosilicate glass bed allows prints to adhere better without warping.

Nothing is more annoying than running out of filament in the middle of printing. With the Tenlog TL-D3’s runout detection, the printer will save the information and suspend printing.

In the event of a power outage or surge, the control board will remember and resume printing from the last recorded position.

Tenlog TL-D3 Price

The Tenlog TL-D3 has an MSRP of $629 US ($800 Canadian).

Check out the current price on Amazon!

(If you’re not seeing an Amazon listing here, turn off your ad blocker.)

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, there are many ways to make money with a 3D printer. It’s recommendable you explore all of them since you can make money from multiple sources all at once!

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