But before you jump in and get your hands dirty, there are some things you need to consider before you start. In this article, we’re going to look at the most important things to consider before starting a 3D printing business.
Regardless of the sector, you are interested in, if done right, your 3D printing business can really thrive. There are many successful 3D printing companies doing well, and many more people are tapping into this industry.
7 things you need to know before starting your 3D printing business
Know the type of business you need to venture into
There are many 3d printing businesses you can start. Starting from product design, designing customized products, medical implants, or even just providing 3D printing services. Those are just examples, and there are countless other possibilities you can venture into.
You first need to know the type of business you would like to start. If there is something you are currently passionate about, you can use it as a business opportunity. For example, if you are passionate about the medical field, you can opt to start a business in designing and 3D printing medical equipment. The same goes for many other hobbies. You can design and print phone cases, figures and objects from your favourite books and shows, and more.
So that is the first thing you need to do. The first step, so to speak. Identifying your field or niche that you would like to explore is something that every business has to do, and it’s always better to do it before starting.
Have a budget in Place
Just like any other business, starting a 3D printing business will require you to have some budget in place. Though you don’t need to have a lot of money, you need to have some budget set aside because you will need to buy a 3D printer(s) if you don’t have them already as well as purchase a 3D printing software that you will use. On top of that, there are also general expenses.
Choose the correct 3D printing tool
There are various 3D printing tools you might need to use in your 3D printing business. If you intend to focus on designing 3D models, you will require 3D modeling software. For 3D printing, you will require slicing software. There are a good number of 3D modeling software available, but I would recommend using SelfCAD software. It’s an all-in-one 3D modeling software with an in-built slicer.
SelfCAD is a professional online 3D modeling application for users of all levels. It’s easy to get started, and you won’t need any previous experience in CAD to use this software. On top of that, users of SelfCAD are also in an advantageous position when it comes to printing. As mentioned before, SelfCAD has its own in-built slicer, so you won’t need to buy or switch to another software.
Why SelfCAD is a tool ideal for 3D printing
It’s much easier to get started with its slicer, and it supports most of the common 3D printers, and the models created in SelfCAD are ready to print. That is, they are watertight. In case your printer is not available, you can reach out to Support and ask them to add it to the slicer.
There is the Magic Fix tool, which fixes the 3D models, and ensures that there will be no issues during the 3D printing process. SelfCAD is the only professional software for businesses with technical, artistic, 3D printing, and rendering features, all under one program.
There is other powerful 3D modeling software that works the same as SelfCAD too and gives the same results as Fusion 360. Fusion 360 runs on the cloud and it also has its own in-built slicer. The only difference with SelfCAD is that it’s a bit complex, but it’s powerful.
Having the correct tool for your business is the first step towards success, so you need to choose them wisely. If you are not designing models and you want to download those that are ready to print, you have to look for a reliable website to download them. And this takes us to the next point.
Know where you can get both free and paid 3D models
If you’re not able to design your models from scratch, or you just want to save some time, you can choose to download them from the 3D model databases and customize them based on your needs.
There are a good number of websites where you can get ready to print 3D models. They include Myminifactory, Thingiverse, Cults3d, and many others, where you can get both free and paid 3D models. Check out these eleven websites for downloading free 3D models to learn more.
Those websites will provide you with any printing instructions as well. Like the type of 3D printer used, if the model needs support and rafts, the size of resolution and infill used.
SelfCAD excels at customizing your STLs as well! It’s been designed in a way to make it easy for anyone to import, edit, and customize their designs, even without having prior experience in 3D modeling.
Choose the correct 3D printing technology to use
There are many available 3D printing technologies, each suitable for specific tasks. Because of that, the choice you make should depend on a variety of factors. For example, if you want to produce highly-detailed parts with high tolerance, then Stereolithography technology is the best option, as it focuses on those factors.
If you want to 3D print in plastic, and the parts will require changing of colours and materials, then you should go for Polyjet. This is very important if you have a 3D printing business where customers can request parts in different colours. If you would like to 3D print in metal, Direct Laser Metal Sintering and Electron Beam Melting are the best options one can use. You have to learn about the various 3d printing techniques to know which one is the best for you.
Buy a 3D Printer of your choice
Once you decide on the type of 3D printing technique that you will use, as well as where you will get your 3D models, it’s time to buy a 3D printer if you intend to print them yourself.
If you’re not capable, you can opt for online 3D printing services like Sculpteo, i. Materialise, or Shapeways, though they can be expensive, especially if you have a lot of 3D models or if they are complex. You can easily upload your designs or the design of your clients to their website and get it 3D printed and shipped easily.
If you would like to buy a 3D printer, there are quite a few factors you need to consider. For example:
- Budget: There are cheap and expensive 3D printers that you can buy. Cheaper ones are ideal for printing basic and smaller models, but if you want to 3D print complex and large models, you will need to buy a larger one, which will obviously need you to increase your budget.
- The type of models you will print: There are 3D printers used for printing in metal, and there are some for plastic and other materials. Once you’ve decided on the 3D printing technology, becomes easier to choose the type of 3D printer for you.
Choose the best place to market your designs
There are various platforms that you can use to market your business. One can begin with popular e-commerce platforms like eBay and Amazon. You can design and 3D print interesting models and share them there. Another option is choosing to create your own website and create social media pages on Facebook and Instagram. As you implement your marketing strategies, you will also learn which one works best for your business. You can also showcase and sell them on platforms like Daz 3D, 3DOcean, 3DExport, CGTrader, and many others.
There are a lot of other things you will have to know before launching your 3D printing business. Every niche will require you to do additional research, but those above are a brilliant point to start. With the basics done, you can delve into the details, having a solid fundament to build-up on.