3d printer printing

Make money with 3D printing

3D printing has been around for a while now and low cost desktop 3D printers have become more prolific than ever before. Design software to make 3D models are now open sourced and the tools to build your local in-house industry has become more affordable than ever. What can you do with a 3D printer you ask ? well there are a whole host of options for you to choose from. I am going to cover six different areas that come under the umbrella of 3D printing.  

 

Start A 3D Printing Farm

3D printing farm

A 3D print farm is manufacturing unit with multiple 3D printers that have only one purpose, print parts for customers. These print farms collect orders from clients who do not own machines and 3D print parts for them at a cost. The year 2020 is a good time to dive into starting your print farm as awareness of 3D printing has reached the masses. A larger audience is looking to outsource and the rise in electronic projects using the arduino and raspberry pi are increasing exponentially as well. This means more custom robotic components, custom enclosures and other parts that can be made only by 3D printing.

Now lets look at the profitability of a 3D print farm, the major expenses you will have are filament cost and electricity. The cost of filament can vary based on your vendor but we can safely say that it will be between 1000 to 1500 INR or 12 – 15 $ per Kilogram of filament. That translates to roughly 1 to 1.5 INR per gram of filament. The cost of electricity is almost negligible, a typical 3D printer uses about 50 watts of power per hour and can go up to 200 watts at max this translates to 0.2 kilowatt-hour of power consumption meaning that it takes about 0.2 units of power per hour. For one day of continuous production you will be looking at 4.8 units of electricity consumed. In Indian cities power rates vary between 4-7 INR per unit, hence to run a 3D printer for one day you will have to pay about 34 INR per day which a drop in the bucket.

Now lets take a look at how much money you can make. The 3D printing process involves slicing the file this is a great first step to take, when a model is sliced on the slicing software you will be presented with information about material usage in grams and the time it takes to print. This information can help you decide your pricing, some companies base their pricing on the material usage and some companies base prices on taken for the part to be printed. Both pricing strategies can be fine tuned to be competitive, make sure to check how local companies around you are pricing their services. Profits from 3D printing services can be quite lucrative, I have worked with several 3D printing companies and I can say that on an average these companies charge 5 to 6 times the filament consumption cost. This means almost 400 % profit on each print. If you can achieve high quality output and maintain a good clientele who come back to you regularly  , you will see your profits soar.  

In my upcoming articles I will mention how you can manage an entire print farm from the internet and have you production move 24/7 without your constant attention.

Reselling 3D Printers And 3D Printing Equipment

3D printer reselling
Another great avenue to make good profits is to resell 3D printing equipment like machines, scanners, filaments etc. A lot of cutting edge technology is invented and made overseas, this means somebody who is adept in understanding the technology and figures out how to bring new products into the country with exclusive reseller rights can make a good chunk of profits. Do keep in mind that as you sell equipment to customers you will also have to be responsible for maintenance and service if required. 
One of the downsides of reselling is that you will be more of a middle man and cannot add value to the product directly, you will also not be able to upgrade features on the equipment you are selling. This can be compensated though, make sure to conduct regular meetups around your city to educate people about 3D printing this is a great value added service as potential customers will trust you when they see you going out and providing valuable content for free or at a low cost.
Now lets get to some numbers, the amount of profits you can make can directly translate on the quantity of imports you can purchase. If you are able to purchase a larger shipment of Filament for example you can buy a kilogram of filament at around 500-700 INR and sell at about 1200-1500 INR which is about 100% margins. I have not taken shipments into consideration and import duty into consideration as I am not fully aware of these costs but roughly it will make a dent of 25 % on revenue. Although a large number of business have started reselling Chinese goods, higher end products from polymakercolorfabb etc are yet to see as many resellers in India. Apart from filament there are also few companies that trade machines, it is important to choose reliable and reputable brands such as Ultimaker, flashforge, formlabs etc . Extremely low end machines may be cheaper to buy as a reseller but that will cost more to service and maintain, I have seen a few companies selling cheap but poor quality equipment from China, these companies did not last long as they could not support their clients problems.

Conduct Workshops

3D printing workshop
The education sphere is an evergreen genre for companies to make a good amount of money as education is always required. 3D printing is still at an early stage and universities and schools have not picked it up yet, apart from education institutes large corporations also look to train their staff with new technologies. When presenting make sure to add relevant topics and valuable information which can be used by your attendees, I have attended many workshops which do not do justice to the amount being charged.
When creating workshops you do not have to just stick to the basics, there are a ton of people of just teach basics of 3D printing on the internet for free, you need to go above and beyond. When conducting workshops teach your attendees how to design parts, how to work with 3D printers, what are the common problems that you face. If your students succeed with 3D printing it will directly reflect with more sales for your workshop. I am yet to see advanced workshops that teach people how to use 3D printing with casting, molding and other industrial processes to manufacture low volume high complexity products. Workshops can cover a large variety of topics so try to make some new and original content instead of copying someone who just conducts introductory lessons.
With regards to numbers, each student can be charged roughly 1000 to 1500 INR for one session, try to bring in a crowd of 30-50 participants per week. This should roughly translate to 1.2 to 2 Lakh INR per month. You will also need to account for other costs such as renting a space and marketing costs. Conducting workshops initially might not be very profitable as you may not attract a large number of participants. A good option is to diversify your business by running a print farm or other related products along side your workshop. An advantage of doing this would be that your workshop participants can be easily converted to customers for your other business as well.

3D Modelling 

Modelling
With popularity of 3D printing on the rise new age companies are always hungry for a large number 3D models. These 3D models showcase the capabilities of a 3D printer and  help companies sell more equipment. 3D models are not only used for printing but also for animation, graphic design and many other sectors which can be very lucrative. A large number of online repositories such as Cults 3D, Thingiverse and My mini Factory are good places for 3D modelling experts to sell their designs. Companies like Shapeways help designers set up an online shop with their designs posted on their website, when a designer chooses to print your design you will make a small margin in the process. Some websites such as CGTrader and Turbosquid are websites  built specifically to buy and sell 3D models only. Apart from uploading designs for sale you can also freelance as an artist to help companies for a short period where they are creating content for their websites and other social media outlets.

The journey towards becoming a high value 3D artist is a tough one, to make your name among the elite designers you have to start by giving out a few designs initially for free and build your name and reputation along the way as well, remember that presentation of your model is important too. Now coming to numbers, these models can vary a lot based on the quality and requirement of the model. Prices vary anywhere between 4 $ per model to 200 $ per model and yes you will be earning in dollars as your 3D models will be sold globally which is an added advantage !.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing in the 3D printing Industry
Another lucrative option is to manufacture products related to 3D printing. This can be machines or other accessories that are a part of 3D printing. Today we have a large number of companies that manufacture 3D printing desktop machines that can print by extruding plastic. The reason so many companies have come to existence is due to the fact that the underlying technology has become open sourced. With that being said there is still a ton of opportunities in the manufacturing space. 3D printers require a high quality extruder mechanisms which are being imported from UK and US as there are no manufacturers in India and low cost Chinese extruders have poor quality. Accessories such as the multi color printing add-one made by Mosaic Manufacturing and flexible print platform from Buildtak have become very successful products because they solve a major problem that 3D printers have been having for a long time. 
The aim is to create a product that is innovative and solves a unique problem that 3D printers face. This can be quite a daunting task as knowledge of programming and hardware testing are required to research and design such a product. But if you can find a way to pull that off then there is no limits to how much you can make, companies that started early making 3D printers such as Ultimaker and Makerbot managed to scale to million dollar companies today. The key is to solve a problem everything else will fall into place.

Start A Youtube Channel

3D printing channel

Online creative platforms such as youtube, facebook and pinterest are great platforms to make videos and share your creative content, this can help in two ways first you will generate large following of potential clients, second you can generate ad revenue from your content on platforms like Youtube. This is probably though one of the hardest ways to create an income, Youtube channels require at least a few thousand subscribers before starting to earn any kind off serious money. If you are planning to start any of your own content based channels then make sure you absolutely enjoy what you are doing cause you will need to stay in the field for years sometimes before you get your break. Top youtubers like the 3d printing nerd have about 390 thousand subscribers  and assuming he gets roughly 1 million  views a month on all his videos combined he can be making roughly 5000 $ a month at 5 $ per 1000 views. This becomes a form of passive income as you grow your channel and put out high quality videos consistently over a long period of time. 
Youtube channels in local languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu etc. can cater to a huge audience, the number of Indians who are coming online everyday for content is steadily increasing making this a good opportunity for the long run.

Conclusion

3D printing is at a growth phase in India and its right for businesses and individuals alike to take this opportunity to start their business. It has been predicted that 3D printing industry is set to grow at 14 % year on year. In 2018 roughly 1.42 million machines were sold and its expected to reach 8 million machines worldwide in 2027 and this is just machines alone. The future for 3D printing looks bright so hop on and join in !!

Hey there, if you enjoyed reading and learnt something new do let me know in the comments !  

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