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Topic: Making money with your 3D Printer

So, I've seen some people selling 3d printed reprap parts/kits on ebay, so theres one method, but its a bit saturated.

Theres also people who sell little 3d printed handicrafts on Etsy.com.

Does anyone have any ideas on things one could to do make some extra cash with their 3d printer?

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

It's a little bit like asking, any ideas on things I could do to make some extra cash with my table saw and router? 

That being said, one of the strong points of 3D printing is customization.  If you want to go the etsy route, you could come up with some kind of design that people might want, that you can easily customize with text, easily changed parametric adjustments, or some combination of preset options.

There is always the issue of surface finish.  If they are expecting just another product, it can be a problem.  If you play up the novelty of 3D printing, it would be the thing that differentiates it as coming from a cutting edge technology. 

I gave a friend of mine one of the Yoda busts, and he thought it was really cool.  It wasn't cool because it was Yoda, but because it came from a 3D PRINTER!  It would be even cooler if it was made just for him with some characteristic that he specified making it one of a kind.

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

Good points, the fact that it is 3D printed makes something sound so much cooler. Its not just a bottle opener, it is a 3d printed bottle opener!

I didn't start this thread specifically for me asking how to make money with a 3d printer, but to start a discussion about monetizing 3d printing at home.

I was going to try to make some replacement RC car parts and throw them up on ebay, and of course test them myself first to be sure they are strong enough.

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

If there are replacement parts that usually cost something like $20 that you can print for $5, that would be a good business model.  Especially if you can build up a digital library of parts that you can easily print on demand.

The Makerbot blog recently had an example of a guy that needed parts for a harpsicord that would have cost something like $3000 by the time he bought one for each string.  He printed his own for less than $30. http://www.makerbot.com/blog/2012/08/02 … -makerbot/

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

I was also reading an article on Consumerist.com where a major appliance manufacturer wanted $70 for a plastic replacement knob for a stove! If you can finish the parts nicely, could provide a replacement at a more reasonable price. Heres the original article for anyone that wants a read: http://consumerist.com/2012/05/lg-sugge … cover.html

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

I will be doing little custom robotic jobs, rc parts, and astronomy accessories on the side.  The big idea is that things with unique geometries are hard to get often without paying a good bit more than the cost of the material.  For example, these Bahtinov masks generally sell for $50-150 and might cost a dollar in plastic.  Other little things like iphone mounts for your telescope might go for $15-50 depending on the quality.  I am still struggling to get the masks to print extremely precisely with slots less than 4 mm in size.  Ian was a huge help yesterday in getting them closer, but the smaller slotted ones are still showing the strange behavior of printing at different sizes.  Anyways, the other thing that I am weighing is whether I should charge per part, or more likely by modeling and printing time.  Maybe a certain amount per hour to model, a certain amount per print time, and a certain amount per material?  I'm curious how other people would charge for this as well.  There seems like if it is a part that has to be modeled with some engineering in mind you could make a little money there.

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

Don't forget, if you are looking for something you can "mass produce", you can design the object and print it on the 3D printer, then make a mold and cast the items much quicker than you can print them. A few hours developing the molds could open the door to endless possibilities.

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

There was a discussion about pricing recently at the RepRap forum-

http://forums.reprap.org/read.php?1,144829

With molding, surface finish becomes a bigger concern.  One thing that I have considered is molding the print, filling the mold with an alternate material that has other/easier finishing options and them molding that.

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

One group of motivated "clients" are local homeschool groups.  As a homeschooling parent, I know that we so spend on classes and other events.  I have hosted a number of science-y classes, everything from astronomy to the "1,000 yard model" (very interesting for all), rocketry, and so on.

Now I am working on a group of Arduino classes, while I await my SD2.

Once the SD2 comes, I will be holding a number of classes with this new technology, with the kids doing their own designs, starting off with simpler flat objects, then moving on to more complex  structures.

yes, i charge for these classes.  you can charge $10 or so, per kid, per class. Plus materials fees which may include printer time.

google homeschool groups with your zipcode.

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

I'll just put this out there:  Remember four years ago when The Dark Knight came out?  Do you remember the Halloween following it?   Of the people at the parties, how many of them where dressed as the Joker?  Smash cut to this Halloween, new Batman movie, new iconic Villian with a curiously printable face mask.  I think this is a real opportunity to make a bit of money from the "really into halloween" crowd.

There will certainly be some cheap injection molded versions sold at the costume stores, but the printed ones will look good and can be custom printed to fit different sized faces.

So long as it's not labelled "Bane face mask" from "The Dark Knight Rises", I don't think its a real copyright issue.  People make and sell props all the time.

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

nope, those props that are based on film props must pay royalties when they are offered for sale.

you are free to create replica props for personal use, but you can't sell them.
I believe that you're also free to give away the designs, (but again can't sell them!)

if you want to make money from your craftiness, (3d printer, or table saw/router) then you'll either have to have your own designs, or you'll have to license the designs that already exist.) -unless the license of those designs enable you to make and sell them...

(so you may find a few trinkets on the thingyverse that you can print out and maybe flog via etsy or ebay).

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

I intend on making paintball parts. Presuming the plastic is strong enough to not smash after a direct paintball hit (I'll print the parts almost solid - uses more plastic but much stronger for small prints) there would be a huge market. I could print almost my entire $200 RAP4 order on this little printer for a few dollars. Head down to the local paintball arena and sell!

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

So thats some sort of protective gear?

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

Ideas I've had so far are...

Designing items for use with cos-play. I don't personally participate, but the people who do are required to have x-percentage of their costume "made" and not bought from a store. Some items like these are already on thingiverse (random example: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:26927) and could be printed off very easily and solid for a decent profit. Especially if they're wanting a finished look using the ABS/acetone mix it could be a fantastic piece.

Another one I did for a friend and has already got a whole ****load of people wanting one for their friends/family was as simple as using one of the open source designs for a 'coin-op' beer bottle opener. Using Google Sketch Up it takes a few seconds/minutes to change out someones initials on the beer bottle opener, and, ask for their birthday. I keep a jar full of pennies, went through it and found one that was on my buddies birthday, and inserted it with the date showing. Simple way to personalize an item, and can turn a 50 cent piece into a 3-5 dollar buy for someone. I intend to design one of my own just for the sake of reducing how much plastic it uses and any issue of me selling them as well as maybe doing an inlay.

Doing a 3d model of someone or a couple is another option, the software to do it with pictures is free from AutoDesk, however not having used it before I don't know how massive a pain in the butt it is or is not. Those could easily bring in 20-50, maybe more if there was a lot of time put into the render.

The other option is to start building 3d Printer 'kits' in the sense that you provide all the printed parts necessary, and they buy the other parts elsewhere. since a lot of people don't have one of these yet, and seem to like the RepRap idea, etc. Download the .stls for the parts needed for a Prusa Mendel or whatever it is you want and go.

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Re: Making money with your 3D Printer

@Brad; Sadly no. People don't tend to wear any body armour and face masks have to be certified for use. Here's some examples:

rap4.com/store/paintball/carbine-handguard-complete-inch-p-14303
rap4.com/store/paintball/m4-carrying-handle-with-iron-sight
rap4.com/store/paintball/m4-m16-magazine-for-tippmann-a5-new-a5

I believe that's $130 (+tax and $50 shipping because I'm Canadian) right there and only a few $ in plastic I'm sure. The Carry Handle with Iron Sight takes a bit more to make because it has one or two springs in it, but it wouldn't be hard to add a spring from a pen afterwards. But I think the handguard/front iron sight and magazine should be pretty straight forward.

People also usually like plastic paintball accessories because they're so light. If you're going to be running around carrying that gun all day, every pound counts!