When it comes to 3D printing the list of items available to print for personal use seems endless. With file-sharing sites like Thingiverse, Printables, or Thangs you have hundreds of thousands if not millions of 3D files at your fingertips ready to be downloaded, sliced, and printed.
Well, there isn’t one really if you don’t want to sell 3d printed items online. The 3D printing community is one of the best when it comes to open source and sharing knowledge with one another. There is one activity that is pretty frowned upon though and that's taking other creators’ personal designs not intended for commercial use and selling them online without permission.
If you are here though it’s probably because you have a 3d printer and you want to get into the 3d printing and selling online industry that seems to be growing without limits. So let's discuss 3 “Categories” of items that make great online sellers and will launch your business!
Maybe you have the next big thing! Historically it’s been very difficult to design, get prototypes and produce a product of your own invention. Not to mention very costly! 3D printing has completely revolutionized this process. Not only can you get your product prototyped for under $100 (using a site that connects you to makers with 3d printers) with the purchase of a hand full of 3d printers (often that cost less than $300 each) you can have your own manufacturing plant!
Having full control of a unique product that only you sell and that there is demand for is probably one of the best ways to have a successful 3D printing business. Word of caution though, this is much easier said than done!
2. Patreon Creators
It should be no surprise to anyone that there are super creative people out there 3d modeling some really awesome stuff. Often times they will take those models and supply them to their Patreon supports along with a “commercial license” that gives the supporter the right to print and sell said design online for a profit as long as they remain a Patreon support.
This method is probably the easiest way to get a new shop off the ground and start getting sales.
This is a great option for those who maybe don’t have 3d modeling skills or who are still developing them but want to start selling. Often times these Patreon creators are selling themselves and can show a proven track record of sales success for their products. 3D Design Bros is one such example. Coming onto the scene in 2020 with 3d printed gaming accessories they quickly became a top Etsy seller. You can now get access to their full catalog on their Patreon as a way to jump-start your shop!
It should be noted that building an entire online sales presence around Patreon files can be a Successful strategy but is not without risk. Any Patreon creator at any time could remove files from their Patreon or just decide to stop giving access altogether.
3. Make an alternative
3D printing is a great industry but it’s not the only one. It doesn’t take long to look around Etsy, Shopify, or Amazon to see awesome items made out of different materials such as wood, metal, or other materials.
The difference though? These other mediums are often more costly due to the underlying material costs as well as the human labor it takes to get them ready to sell. Wood often needs to be sanded, stained, sealed, etc.
A successful strategy can be to draw inspiration from these products and make your own unique alternative with 3D printing. By using the advantage of 3D printing often times the cost to produce can be drastically reduced compared to wood or metal. This offers those customers who may not have the budget for wood or metal to still get a great product that accomplishes what they need.
No matter what you end up 3D printing and selling online though one thing is for sure. If you don’t know your cost when selling on sites like Etsy, Shopify, or Amazon you are setting yourself up for failure. 3D Print Farm Sheets is the only spreadsheet created for 3D printing creators by 3D printing creators to assist them in making sure they are PROFITABLE when selling online.