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Are you a 3D printing enthusiast looking to turn your hobby into a profitable business? Or maybe you’re just curious about the many creative and quirky ways you can use a 3D printer to make money. Well, you’re in luck! From jewelry and accessories to home organizers, toys, and customized products, the possibilities for 3D printing ideas to sell are virtually endless.
With the increasing popularity of 3D printing technology, there has never been a better time to get creative and start selling your own 3D-printed products. In this article, we’ll explore some fun and innovative 3D printing ideas that you can sell online and offline, and provide tips on how to get started with your own 3D printing business. So, let’s fire up those printers and get ready to turn your imagination into a money-making machine!
Which 3D prints actually sell well online?
When it comes to selling 3D printed products online, certain types of prints tend to perform better than others. One of the best ways to look for best sellers and get ideas for your 3D printing business is to head on over to Etsy and see what is selling. Type in ‘3D printed’ in the Etsy search bar and see what comes up. Usually, the most popular selling items will be seen first.
Some popular categories for 3D printed products that sell well online include:
- Jewelry and accessories
- Home Decor
- Tech accessories
- Toys and games
- Custom name tags or keychains
Products that are functional or have a specific use, such as phone cases, kitchen gadgets, or custom prosthetics, also tend to do well. Additionally, niche markets like cosplay, steampunk, and tabletop gaming have a high demand for 3D-printed items.
How to avoid copyright issues when selling 3D prints
When selling 3D prints, it is very important to ensure that you are not infringing on someone else’s intellectual property rights. This can include copyrights, trademarks, and patents. To avoid copyright issues, it’s crucial to only sell 3D prints of designs that you have created yourself, or for which you have obtained explicit permission from the original creator.
Additionally, you should avoid creating 3D prints of copyrighted material such as logos, characters, or other images without permission. Printing out copyrighted material (e.g. Pokemon figures, Nintendo logos, LEGO, etc) could land you in a legal battle. If you’re not sure whether a design is copyrighted, it’s best to err on the side of caution and always ask for an explicit permission.
Another way to avoid copyright issues without having to make your own designs is to use open-source designs that are licensed for commercial use. Creative Commons offers several different licenses, each with its own set of permissions and restrictions. The licenses range from more restrictive licenses like Attribution-NoDerivs (which allows others to use and redistribute the file but prohibits them from making any modifications or using it for commercial purposes) to more permissive licenses like Attribution-ShareAlike (which allows others to use, modify, and distribute the file for any purpose, including commercial use, as long as they credit the original creator and use the same or a compatible license).
If you plan to sell a 3D-printed product based on an STL file, it is important to review the specific license terms and ensure that you are complying with any requirements or restrictions. Creative commons license information is available on most STL file websites such as Thingiverse and Printables.
Where can you sell 3D prints?
Here are some of the top places to sell your 3D prints:
- Etsy: Etsy is a popular online marketplace that caters specifically to handmade and vintage items. There is a market for 3D printed crafts, custom projects and even functional items like cord organizers. With over 81 million active buyers, Etsy provides a global platform for selling your 3D prints.
- Amazon: As an amazon seller you can opt sell your 3D prints to a large audience. While Amazon does take a commission fee, it can be a great way to reach a wider audience and increase your sales. You might need a few printers to perform well in a large scale market like Amazon!
- Facebook Marketplace: Facebook Marketplace is a free platform that allows you to sell your 3D prints directly to local buyers. This is a great way to get started when you are thinking about 3D print sales. With over 2 billion active users, Facebook can be a powerful tool for reaching a local audience and generating sales.
- Local Markets and Craft Fairs: Selling your 3D prints in person can also be a great way to connect with customers and build your brand. Local markets and craft fairs are a great place to start, as they often attract a diverse range of shoppers who are interested in unique and handmade products.
What type of printer do you need for a 3D printing business?
If you’re planning to start a 3D printing business, choosing the right printer is crucial. There are many different types of 3D printers available on the market, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
FDM printers are the most affordable and widely available type of 3D printer, making them a popular choice for beginners. These printers use melted plastic filament to build 3D models layer by layer. While FDM printers are affordable and easy to use, they often produce lower-quality prints and may require more post-processing work.
SLA printers use a liquid resin that is cured by a UV laser to create highly detailed and accurate 3D prints. These printers are more expensive than FDM printers, but they can produce high-quality prints with fine details and smooth surfaces.
SLS printers use a laser to sinter powdered materials like nylon, producing strong and durable 3D prints. These printers are typically used for industrial applications and are not as commonly found in smaller 3D printing businesses due to their high cost.
15 3D Printing Ideas to Sell
In this section, we’ve gathered 15 creative 3D printing ideas that are sure to spark your imagination and inspire your creativity. From practical items like phone cases, and keychains to fun and quirky figurines, these ideas offer something for everyone. So grab your 3D printer and let’s get started!
** At the time of publishing all of the models listed below allowed commerical use. Please check the license again before selling.
Air Tag Buckle
Air tags are becoming more popular for keeping track of your things. They are especially popular for travel to track baggage and prevent lost bags. These air tag buckles would be perfect to sell to travellers looking to keep their luggage safe.
Stand Mixer Cord Organizer
These are popular sellers on Etsy and Amazon. This 3D printed cord organizer can be mounted to the back of a stand mixed to keep the cord neatly tucked away.
Self Watering Seed Starter
Self-watering planters are another popular 3D print that can be sold online. These self watering seedling starters are perfect for gardeners in spring.
In the category of useful household items, bag clips are super useful and cheap and easy to print. These can be packaged and sold in groups of 10 or 20 online still with a good profit margin.
Custom QR Code Signs
These custom QR code signs could be used by coffee shops, doctor or dentist offices, airbnbs, hotels and many more. Designing this to be custom does require some basic knowledge of tinkercad.
Shoe Slot Organizer
These shoe slot organizers will help save space in closets and front entryways. These would be great for local sales as they do take up space for shipping.
Board Game Miniatures
By: Rosarikat Studio
Miniatures have a huge following and are one of the most popular 3D items to print. You can find lots of unique creations at MyMiniFactory (will need a commercial license to sell). Most miniaturees are best printed with a resin 3D printer.
These will sell great as stocking stuffers or even as goodie bag items for a video game-themed party. My bestsellers in my 3D printing business are all related to video games.
SD/MicroSD Card Organizer
Another easy to make organizing tool that’s useful for buyers! This 3D print will pack easily in a regular envelope making it easy to ship.
Apple Watch Stand
Another simple print that will sell well! These could be modified to be custom as well.
Tic Tac Toe Game for Kids
By: 3D Print Bunny
Kids toys and games are another hot selling item when it comes to 3D prints. This cute tic-tac-toe game is easy to print and would be great for travel or restaurants with kids.
Customizable Toothbrush Holders
By: Jolon Andrade
Customizable 3D prints are popular on sites like Etsy. These custom toothbrush holders are perfect for kids.
Toy Train Tracks
These 3D printed toy train tracks are great as replacement pieces for wooden train tracks. The white connectedtor pieces would be easy to sell and ship online.
Shopping Cart Tokens
I was surprised to see how popular these 3D printed shopping cart tokens were on etsy. With less and less people carrying around cash and with some grocers still required coins for carts these can certainly be handy.
3D printed custom keychain
By: Teach Your Kids Code
Custom keychains are very popular on sites like Etsy and can be modified for special themes like bachelor parties and valentines. We’ve included a tutorial on our site to make your own custom 3D printed keychain and learn the basics of tinkercad.
Frequently Asked Questions about Selling 3D Prints
You can sell a wide range of 3D prints online, including jewelry, phone cases, figurines, toys, home decor items, and more. You can create your own unique designs or offer customization options for your customers.
There are several popular platforms for selling 3D prints online, including Etsy, Amazon, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay. You can also create your own online store using platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce.
The price of your 3D prints will depend on several factors, including the cost of materials, the complexity of the design, and your time and labor. Research the prices of similar products online and factor in your costs to determine a fair price.
The type of printer you use will depend on your budget and the type of products you want to create. Fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers are the most common and affordable, but resin printers can produce higher-quality prints with more detail.
No, it is not legal to sell copyrighted or licensed 3D designs without permission from the owner. Make sure that the designs you sell are either your own original creations or have the appropriate licensing.
In conclusion, 3D printing offers a world of possibilities for those looking to start a business or make some extra cash on the side. With the right equipment and a little creativity, you can create unique and personalized products that are sure to stand out in a crowded market.
Kate is mom of two rambunctious boys and a self-proclaimed super nerd. With a background in neuroscience, she is passionate about sharing her love of all things STEM with her kids. She loves to find creative ways to teach kids computer science and geek out about coding and math. She has authored several books on coding for kids which can be found at Hachette UK.