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  • Writer's pictureM Aerospace RTC

Make a business with 3D printing

Whether a user belongs to a company or is a self-employed professional who wants to invoice in this constantly evolving market, choosing a good approach to action can be the difference between the success and failure of your investment.

Here are 5 tips on how to enter this market by standing out from the competition:

Be creative:

Creativity is the main point for anyone who wants to make money in this market. Keeping up with market trends is another key to raising the billing ceiling by dedicating yourself to 3D printing.

Give training courses:

Being a relatively new technology on the market, 3D printing courses are scarce. Betting on making video courses and marketing them online, or offering face-to-face courses are also an excellent way to earn income with knowledge about 3D printing.

Learn to model and create your own 3D models:

Learning to use Blender or similar software is something almost mandatory in this sector, since that way you can create your own models and sell them printed in 3D or the models themselves online on websites like TurboSquid and CGTrader.

Promote your products on social networks:

Publicize your work. As "a picture is worth a thousand words", social networks like Pinterest or Instagram are ideal for promoting your business by posting eye-catching images of your models. In addition, by reaching a good number of followers, it is possible to sell your models and your courses through these channels.

Choose a market niche:

Choosing a niche market and specializing within the 3D printing market, instead of "making and selling a bit of everything", can be the key to success in this sector. The possibilities are very diverse and range from the sale of Action Figures to drone accessories.

Do not pigeonhole yourself in manufacturing:

In 3D printing, not only the people who manufacture the parts participate. Suppliers of consumables and spare parts also have an important role. If you know how to do maintenance you can also participate, if you know design too. The point is not to close yourself to the possibilities and the acquired knowledge.

· Maintenance:

Users who can maintain a 3D printer will be able to buy a cheaper printer, knowing what parts need to be changed and how to operate the printer. It is important to mention that a more expensive printer does not prevent the eventual maintenance of the equipment, and that it will not be a fully automated printer that with the push of a button will do all the work, although it does make the printing process a little easier.

If you are thinking of investing in a different business, trust the new technology sector. These have enabled the emergence of different job opportunities, which years ago would be unthinkable. The 3D revolution has generated a multitude of creative industries that play with the perception of the human eye, as in the case of cinemas. However, when reality surpasses fiction, 3D printers emerge, capable not only of simulating, but of materializing a part of reality. Now companies from different sectors can manufacture all kinds of objects in a different, profitable and useful way.

These are the main business models focused on 3D printing:

· Advisor, distributor or/and consultant for 3D printers:

This sector is relatively new, so if you train and become an expert, you will have a very profitable business. Taking into account that many companies require assistance to know both the operation and maintenance of them. You can combine this with the task of distributor, offering a complete service to the client.

· Design and production of personalized 3D products:

Today the world of customization is one of the most profitable. People need to know that you have an exclusive product. Take advantage of it, offering this service. Also, aside from personal use, many companies will ask you to print their projects.

· Sale of a specific product manufactured with 3D printing:

You can also develop a specific business idea, and sell that specific product. Find a need focused on any sector and exploit it.

Drone manufacturer and/or distributor:

Currently, these aircraft can be used in various cases, with an AESA authorization, you can specialize in their manufacture according to the sector. For example: hospitals and security forces can use them.

· Special repairs:

Sometimes we need parts to repair a device that are already discontinued.

· 3D model designer:

3D design continues to be a highly demanded market as many companies and organizations need new designs and improvements to their prototypes. Medium and large companies usually have in-house 3D designers, but small companies may require the services of a freelance designer.

· Maintenance and repair service for 3D printers:

3D printers are machines confirmed by many electromechanical parts and electronic components. At some point, one of the components may malfunction and servicing and repair services may be required.

On the other hand, the calibration task can be somewhat complicated at first, especially if you are a beginner.

You can take advantage of the opportunity to offer your services and cover this demand for 3D printer calibration and maintenance services. For them, you must have technical knowledge about the operation of the different brands and models and have expertise in detecting 3D printer failures.

You can also choose to subcontract specialist technical personnel to carry out calibration and maintenance tasks.

· Resale of 3D printers, materials and spare parts:

The classic method of reselling products also applies in this world. You can take advantage of the offers of AliExpress, free market and Amazon and then resell your products in a physical or virtual store.

Black Fridays or Christmas sales are good opportunities to complete stock and resell during the first half of the year.

Dropshiping is a good option that has become very popular nowadays. You just have to contact a manufacturer of one of the products and take care of all the sales management of said products.

· Printing of 3D objects on request:

One of the most common ways to generate income with a 3D printer is by printing objects at the request of clients. You receive the STL file of the three-dimensional model, load it into your Slicer program, configure the parameters of your 3D printer, place the required supports and start printing.

Under this concept, you are not responsible for the 3D design since the clients deliver it to you ready to print.

The printer and the printing material is within the costs of your work.

You could also offer your services online with systems similar to Cubify, materialize or shapeways. These companies receive the model in an stl file and print it with different types of materials and with different combinations that you request.

· Development of own products:

3D printing is an additive manufacturing process. That is, you can make things using your 3D printer and then sell them to a target audience.

At home, with 3D resin printers you can create dental prostheses, jewelry, hearing aids or decorative pieces. The FFF 3D printer is suitable for creating more resistant and functional plastic objects and parts.

Once you know how to design and craft these items, you can trade them using Amazon, Free Market, Gearbeast, etc.

· Manufacture and sale of Open source 3D Printers:

One of the revolutions in 3D printing occurred when Open source 3D printers were born with the RepRap project. Now everyone has free access to the plans and firmware of a DIY filament printer and everyone can make the modifications and improvements they deem necessary.

Best of all, the new printers that result from these improvements can be legally marketed.

You too can get on the ship and start making new DIY FDM printers and be a supplier in your city and country.

· Develop 3D Printing programs:

If you are a programmer and you know about 3D printing, you can combine this knowledge and create digital tools to meet the needs of the market at certain stages of the process.

I am not talking about creating a Blender or a simplify3D (unless you have your own company and have the resources to do it), but about small programs that are useful and that you can then commercialize in the medium or long term.

Many programmers have started their projects with small applications that have been improved over time. Obviously programming knowledge is necessary.

You can also choose to hire programmers to make the program. Today there are many freelancers who can offer you their services for competitive prices.

Provide some online service associated with 3D printing:

As 3D printing technologies evolve, we become more connected and continue to take things to new levels.

These advances are achieved thanks to the development of new tools and services that facilitate certain stages of the process. For example, today you can go to Thingiverse and download a print-ready 3D model, then you can mail that model or some file-sharing service to a print service provider, and then pick it up when it's printed.

In that process, you don't need to know 3D design, you don't need to have a design program installed, and you don't need to have a 3D printer. You just need to have internet.

Although this is an extreme case, it is totally real and possible to do today.

In any area of ​​the 3D printer it is possible to create new elements that make things even easier and provide benefits that serve the users.

· Manufacturer of 3D printing materials:

3D printers need materials for the development of parts. Filaments, resins, powders, etc. are required. The provision of materials is a sector in constant growth both in sales and in competition.

Every day manufacturers look for new ways to improve their products. They make more flexible and less polluting filaments, they create resins for all kinds of uses, and thus, they cover more and more sectors that demand products. More and more sectors can take advantage of 3D printing.

Now you have the opportunity to be part of that group of companies that manufacture materials for 3D printers.

· 3D printing focused on construction:

Large 3D printers and programs for housing construction have been developed, whose technological development promises enormous benefits to cover decent housing needs at lower costs and in incredibly short times. In addition, they can be developed with personalized characteristics since it will be enough to change the architectural design in a CAD program to build a home according to the taste and needs of each client.

Projects have already been developed that are in the testing stage, for example, in China they are being used for offices so that once they have been verified, they will begin to be used on a large scale. On the internet you will find information and videos that explain the construction method. The most significant savings are in labor and materials, using concrete and recycled materials.

Technologies are also being developed for architectural finishes that would take years to develop using traditional methods and that with 3D printing will be a matter of months or days. Likewise, there are technologies for 3D printing of ornamental elements such as benches, fountains, pilasters, etc.

· 3D printing focused on the health sector:

The health field is always one of the first sectors to benefit from technological development and 3D printing is no exception. There are already many start-ups that are exploring the possibilities of this type of printing applied to health. Printing of splints, prostheses, implants...

3D printing fits so well in the world of health because each product can be fully customized, with the specific measurements and characteristics of each patient, the same implant or splint is not suitable for two different patients, no matter how similar their needs. Here it is good to emphasize that the areas where 3D printers add more value are those that require a high degree of customization.

But if we also want to delve into what until now was fertile ground for science fiction, the possibilities are incredible: printing of drugs and printing of tissues and organs are some of the options that are already being investigated. Of course, although this type of technology and business may still be a long way from an SME, technology is advancing so fast that no option can be ruled out, there are also opportunities with simpler elements, we can say that in the world There are over 3 million 3D printed hearing aids out there, and using 3D printing to create dental crowns is already an everyday occurrence for many dentists. These are two examples that clearly demonstrate the advantages: Before, to produce the prosthesis, the doctor took an impression with wax and then, based on this mold, the crown or hearing aid was produced. It was an expensive, slow and imprecise process. Today, the dentist scans the broken tooth, corrects it digitally if necessary, and sends it for printing. The whole process takes a couple of hours instead of taking weeks, as it used to be. In addition, the prosthesis is naturally much more comfortable because it has a very precise shape, the exact shape of your tooth or your ear.

Taking into account the main tips and models to start a business around 3D printing, the idea way to carry it out will be by following these steps.

The first step, therefore, is to consider these technologies as tools with diverse capacities and functions, whose applications in each specific industry will help us to find a first position in the market and, also, to identify potential clients of greater value to whom to offer. different production, research or prototyping solutions.

The second step is the choice of the ideal technology or technologies, it will depend on the production needs that we have and our business environment, since if we are, for example, in an area where the majority of our potential clients belong to the of metallurgy, it will be of little use that we are going to offer them a team that manufactures objects from thermo-plastic materials; and, if we do, we must know specifically what are the real uses that can be given to that equipment and its limitations.

80% of current 3D printing companies and businesses base their catalog of products and services on FDM manufacturing technology, which is affordable given the cost of this equipment compared to other printing techniques.

However, having a single technology turns out to be a great impediment when it comes to offering equipment or manufacturing on demand, since, sooner or later, we will find ourselves with the problem of not being able to serve potential clients who require other properties. physical mechanics and aesthetics.

Bearing all this in mind, the most important thing before starting will be to analyze our business environment and the possibilities it offers, without confusing our potential scope with the specific physical environment of the area where we live, since there are infinite options for performing online services. or it may even be interesting to move to more favorable areas.

The third step is to be constantly updated with information, in a technological sector such as 3D printing, new advances appear every day of which we must be well informed, because we have to take into account that our competition will be, and above all because There is no worse feeling than going to visit a possible client, and that he knows more about a technology, equipment or material than you.

But as we well know, most of the information we find will have been directed or focused by a printer manufacturer who will tell us how great their technology is and how great its advantages are.

Therefore, it is crucial to have accurate information about the real capabilities of one or another piece of equipment and its possible drawbacks, since our role is to become the reference informative, in such a way that they can fully trust that the equipment or solution that we indicate will be the best option for their company.

As a fourth step we must focus on a model, when we talked about the ideal technology, there is no solution that can meet the needs of all companies in this sector, so we need a business partner that provides us access to any technology of additive manufacturing, providing us with the appropriate training, material and infrastructure to be able to meet the needs of each client safely, thus avoiding costly errors that can affect the viability of our project.

One of the advantages with which this distributor starts is that it offers a wide coverage of advice, training and distribution of the main brands of professional and industrial 3D printing on the market, thus not having to choose exclusively between the solutions offered by one or the other. , but allowing us to access the most optimized solution for each sector.

But when it comes to applying 3D printing solutions to our potential clients, it is not only enough to have a detailed knowledge of the characteristics and possibilities of the various products available, but also the technical knowledge of each of the industrial areas in which we will apply our products: what processes can be improved, in what phase of production is it more profitable to implement them, what balances of investment and cost savings entails, etc. All of this applied to the sector in which we are targeting, to apply already existing solutions of high profitability, such as the medical, metallurgical, aeronautical, automotive, jewelry, toy manufacturing, or any other industrial sector. Well, each one requires completely different characteristics and development and implementation.

According to a study carried out by Markets and Markets, the 3D printing market will move about 32.7 billion per year until 2023, growing about 25% annually. Without a doubt, these figures are excellent and open doors for a series of improvements, improvements and innovations within this area, considering that it is a growing technology and that it is still far from its peak.

If you are thinking of betting on 3D printing, the best time to start is now, while the market is not yet well established. Thus, by learning and putting into practice the innovations that are emerging, you will be able to take advantage of the maximum present and future potential of this technology that will revolutionize many sectors.


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