In the past year, I’ve been working on a small hobby “business” selling custom 3D printed objects to friends and family. I found that this had a lot of benefits for me, as a Designer and Hobbyist! Here’s an expanded view on what went well and what didn’t with my hobby!
The ever developing skill of designing bespoke 3D print-ables
While working on my hobby, I have designed many different products to sell. This not only develops your skills in the 3D modeling program, (For me, Fusion 360) it also develops your brain so that you can predict what models will work out, and what will not in the eyes of customers. This is valuable experience that you should take seriously. Think about it, what would a customer WANT?
It helps support the material costs and slowly pays off your 3D printer!
Slowly but surely, you’ll find that the profit you actually make can help towards more material, and could even one day pay off the 3D printer itself. Or if you’re more ambitious, could even pay towards a NEW 3D printer to double your production!
What you design is reusable!
There’s a little trick I found when it comes to my 3D printed designs. If there’s a design I make that I particularly don’t mind when it comes to other people printing it, that’s exactly what I’ll work on. I’ll upload it to sites like Thingiverse, which has a feature that allows people to tip you for a model you create. This is great, because if you design many great models, it could surprise you to have an email suddenly saying that someone wants to pay you for your work!
Once designed, easy to reproduce
I have a few products which is almost the SAME model each time, with a different design simply extruded to make it custom. Take my 3D printed custom coasters for example, which are available to buy from my Facebook Page. What I do is extrude a custom design onto the top of these coasters, for each and every customer.
It IS a good idea to be realistic when it comes to selling things, because your profit margin isn’t going to be very much unless you’re constantly printing. Take this article into consideration for hobby money to help towards your 3D printer, unless you put all effort into it, you may not have the effort to handle many customers. But don’t forget, it’s fun so just do it anyway! It helps you pay for materials that you can use towards the models you’d like to print.