How to make money with small 3D Printer?


Is it a real case that one can make money with a small 3D printer? Is it the right time for starting a 3D printing business? If you are still not sure about it, here are some figures to check before rushing into the business.

A recent study on the consumer 3D printer market showed that the total sales of consumer 3D printers in 2020 was 753,000 units, an increase of 6.7% compared to 2019. Although many companies have postponed their decision to put more 3D printers into production due to COVID-19, revenue in the 3D printing service market increased by 9.2% last year. The annual growth rate of the global 3D printer market is expected to be 17% in the next three years, and the total global revenue is expected to reach 37.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2026.

make money with small 3d printer

As more and more people are educated or trained to use 3D printers nowadays and costs for home 3D printers are declining every year, desktop 3D printers are no longer expensive equipment for professionals but also a great opportunity for the unemployed and entrepreneurs who want to spend more time at home to take care of their families. If you want to know how to make money with small 3D printers, you may find some ideas and tips in this post.

Why Small Desktop 3D Printers is Right For Startup Business?

1. The cost is relatively low

The price for small consumer desktop 3D printers is much lower and more cost-effective compared with other production machines. For a startup business, costs would always be one major concern before making any business decisions. You might also want to start with entry-level 3D printers first and then upgrade to professional printers after your business starts making profits and ideas have been proven to be promising.

2. High-quality small 3D printers offer super great details.

Although accuracy is one of the main obstacles to the growth of the consumer 3D printer market, fast-developing technology enables manufacturers to improve and upgrade their printers to provide better printing results. After a quick search for 3D printing, you will be surprised at the printing details of the 3D printing projects shared by the members of 3D printing community.

3D Prints with Great Details
3D Prints with Great Details

3. A compact desktop 3D printer won’t take too much space.

A mini 3D printer requires no extra-large space to set up everything for printing. You can either place the desktop printer in your study room or workshop. So, if you are considering a startup home business or earning some extra money to make ends meet, 3D printing service would be a really good idea to start right now.

4. It’s easy to use and maintain.

3D printing is used to be an exclusive hobby for people with professional backgrounds. However, the ever-growing 3D printing market forced industry leaders to spend more resources on educating and training users to use 3D printers for work or personal hobbies. The merging and growth of 3D model sharing/selling websites like Thingiverse and model building devices like 3D printer scanners make 3D printing easier than ever before.

Things to 3D Print and Sell With Small 3D Printer?

It’s really important to consider which products you want to print and what kind of service you gonna offer before you make a decision on which 3D printers to invest in. Here are a few ideas that you might start to print with small 3D printers.

1. Customized promotion items

Companies that host campaigns or events on regular basis need gifts to boost their brand awareness with branded items or customized items to match their brand. However production factories usually only take quality orders and the whole production and delivery process would take weeks or months. 3D printing service would be the best option to get a small batch of a customized items within the short delivery time.

3D Printed Promotion Items

2. Character Figurines

We all have our favorite characters from video games, comics, anime, and movies. The market for 3D printed characters is huge and you could always find the right niche market to enter from trending video games or anime or movies. With bit advertising work on social networks or search engines, customers would come to you with ideas and files to print out their demanding models.

3. Home decor

For those with a passion for home decor, 3D printing lends itself well to the housewares market. Vases, lamps, planters, photo frames, dishes, drinkware, placemats, and cutlery are all easily produced through additive printing. Complex designs with unique textures and finishes can be printed with relative ease. The key is to develop a unique aesthetic and define your niche. Set up an e-commerce site from which to feature your designs and then print on demand to customer specs. At the same time, you can leverage existing traffic on sites like Etsy where customers are always looking for interesting and unique home decor that reflects their personal style and a desire for one-of-a-kind items. Find out more things to print with 3D printers in our post Top 10 Practical 3D Printing Business Ideas 2021.

3D Printed Home Decoration Parts
3D Printed Home Decoration Parts

How to make money with small 3d printers?

In fact, FDM 3D printers to startup business owners count for a great part of our turnover, and 3D printing business is far more practical beyond your imagination. Regarding how to make money with 3D printers, you might find a long list to check for the whole day. Following are some great ideas that have been proved to be working.

1. Providing Online/Local 3D Printing service

Rapid prototyping

Due to its lower costs for small-batch manufacturing and short delivery time compared with traditional manufacturing, 3D printing is considered a better solution for rapid prototyping to verify product ideas. It has been quite common practice for companies to set up 3D printing machines in-house for rapid prototyping. Companies without 3D printing devices, have realized the convenience of this new technology and started outsourcing 3D printing services. There have been many reputable 3D printing service providers in the market offering service not only to consumer market but many other industries with higher quality standards.

3D Printing Rapid Protyping
3D Printing Rapid Prototyping

Printing submitted 3D model

If you like to decorate your house with creative 3D models or have a hobby for character figurines collection but without any access to 3D printers, you might ask for help from professional 3D printing service websites which allow you to submit your 3D models for printing. The 3D prints would be delivered to your address when completed. If you have basic knowledge of search engine optimization, you might find there are many search queries like “3D printing service near me”. It’s obvious that this is a good business opportunity for consideration.

2. Selling 3D printed items online

Selling your own designed 3D prints

Another idea to make money with the small 3D printer is open an online store and sell your own collection of 3D prints. There are many well know eCommerce websites with a great reputation for selling DIY/creative customized products and Etsy is one of the top players in this term. If you would like to expand your customer base, you might use tools like “” to find similar websites to Etsy or open a Shopify online store to make your business looks more official and serious.

Selling 3D prints designed by others

There are lots of 3D prints that could be a really good market to enter. Before making a decision on where to sell, it’s recommended to make a list of things you can print and sell. You might find some helpful ideas in our post “top 10 practical 3D printing business ideas 2021”. After making your minds about your business niche, it’s time to source 3D model designing files to print with if you are a noob to modeling. There are plenty of websites and platforms like Thingiverse where designers are sharing and selling their 3D model designing files. These websites are quite good sources to look at/dig into.

However using 3D model files designed by other people for commercial applications without permission is illegal, thus it’s crucial to get designers’ approval before starting selling. You might search interesting business ideas on these websites and approach the designers to negotiate about selling 3D prints of their design with a paid fee or on a commission basis. You might even work together and share customers with these designers to generate a win-win result for both parties.

3. Spare parts wholesale

3D printing spare parts wholesale could also be a very good idea to consider. Manufacturers are often challenged for producing spare parts due to the high cost of inventory. Many manufacturers choose to source the assembly parts in small bulk when needed to cut their investment in stocking. And it would also shorten their time for production and provide a better customer experience to end-users. If you decide to go with this business option, you might start by searching local service providers to find out if any replacement for special fitting is required.

Some Tips for Launching Your 3D Printing Startup Business

1. Make a SWOT analysis before deciding which market to enter

Before officially launching your startup business, it’s important to make a comprehensive analysis of your situation. What do you get, what are your advantages & disadvantages, what are the opportunities for you and challenges for your business. This is really helpful for you to make your business-related decisions. Take everything into consideration and make a detailed plan with timeline.

2. Chosse the right 3D printer

Among all the 3D printing technology in the market, FDM, SLA, and DLP are 3 major printer types and also the most available options in the market. What’s they are quite different in so many ways and choosing the right 3D printers is not an easy job. Usually, there are a few factors to consider:

Printing space: if the 3D printers provide enough space for your printing objects?

Printing details: Check if the details offered by 3D printers are good enough for your business. Some might argue the more details it provides the better, but for some, this is all about the balance between costs and performance.

Costs of printer: How to get a quality 3D printer with a limited budget would be one top concern when choosing the right device for your business.

Materials the 3D printing machine use: different materials are with different characteristics in strength, elasticity, assistance against heating, etc. If the 3D prints you gonna sell have strict requirements, you need to take this into consideration when making decisions.

Budget for printing materials: Some materials are of really high costs and should be treated as a serious business decisions as in the long term it would be a heavy financial burden if the costs won’t be paid off.

Easy for maintenance: Since you might print on a regular basis, an easy-to-maintain printer could save you lots of trouble and money.

CoreXY 3D Printer Twotrees Sappheiros Pro High Resolution Professional Cube 3D Printer
CoreXY 3D Printer Twotrees SP-3 High-Resolution Professional Cube 3D Printer

3. Choose the right platform to start

After you decide on the market to enter, another decision on your list should be which platform should you use for your business to make a presentation. There are a few options you might consider:

  • 3rd party Websites related to DIY or crafts like Etsy, the complete websites list could be really long. You might select a few popular websites and make a comprehensive comparison on these websites. You can either list your business on one website or on multiple websites to get more potential exposure for your business.
  • Start your own website: there are many easy-to-use website builders out there with drop-to-design functions. Shopify is a well-known tool with lots of Apps to optimize your selling experience. WordPress is another open-source website builder that provides more functions and is more friendly to SEO (search engine optimization). You might make a deep dig and find more options.
  • Professional B2C commerce websites like Amazon, Aliexpress,etc. All kinds of products are sold on these platforms thus providing a larger customer base for your business which offers you more opportunities to get found.

Get your business presented to the right audience

No matter which websites or platforms you decide to use, getting your products presented to the right audience is more important. To get enough product exposure, visits and sales, end-users need to find your store or products first before making further actions. Here are some ways to play the trick and increase your sales

1st: share your store and 3D prints with social media: there are many 3D-printing-related groups and communities out there, you might share your amazing prints with the community members, and many of them would be your potential customers.

2nd: share your 3D printing work on model-sharing websites. Many websites allow users to share their 3D printing or other DIY works and it’s also a good place to get more visitors to your store.

3nd: Try paid ads: B2C websites usually provide paid ads to get products ranked in top positions to get more sellings; social media like Facebook, Instagram, or youtube also provide paid ads service for users. For business owners without much knowledge or experience on market, paid ads would be the easiest way to start.


3D printing is a booming business and there are still quite lots of opportunities for startup businesses. However, it’s also important to make a full analysis and comprehensive plan before your launch your start-up. If you have any better ideas or tips that could help get the better results for making money with a small 3D printer, please leave us a comment and share your idea with us.

Two trees

Two trees

Professional 3D printing and CNC laser engraving equipment manufacturer.

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