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Let's talk business  

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BadFuse
(@badfuse)
Trusted Member
Let's talk business

I wanna ask you, the active Prusa forum users a couple of questions.

1) Are you making money out of your 3D printers? (if yes, how)
2) Are there still demand for FDM 3D printed parts in the market?

P.S: I'm not that guy who bought his 3D printer yesterday and wanna make money today. I have been into 3D printing for 5 years but only as a hobby. My main source of income is my engineering degree.

Posted : 19/02/2019 8:57 am
PJR
 PJR
(@pjr)
Moderator
Re: Let's talk business

I do the occasional (paid) exhibition

And I print parts for friends (no charge).

Other than that, it costs me a fortune 🙁

Peter

Please note: I do not have any affiliation with Prusa Research. Any advices given are offered in good faith. It is your responsibility to ensure that by following my advice you do not suffer or cause injury, damage…

Posted : 19/02/2019 10:02 am
BadFuse
(@badfuse)
Trusted Member
Topic starter answered:
Re: Let's talk business

cool stuff Peter, thanks for sharing.

Posted : 19/02/2019 10:19 am
JuanCholo
(@juancholo)
Reputable Member
Re: Let's talk business

I stopped attempting to monetize. big issue is having control over your design. the only sane way at the moment is either selling the parts to the customer which is expensive and can be stolen, or only dealing with G-codes, and encoding information into the G-code for customer tracking.

using your printer like shapeways to make money is impossible you would need higher end 3d printers and a farm of them to even think about it. The way i see it shapeways will be out of business in a few years as home 3d technology advances and just like a home computer eventually everyone will have one. print farms are going to phase out for home units. much like main frame computers gave way to desktops.

the money is in the Files that create the item not in selling the physical item. which brings you back to the the problem of control over your product. Right now if you happen to create and sell something that reaches a certain amount of sales somebody will copy your design and sell it for a little cheaper locking you out of the market. people steal free designs regardless of license agreement and sell them on ebay or cults3d or what ever other amazon like service exists and then you might shut one down and another pops up in its place.
this is the STL end of it.

that leads to Gcodes but then you have to deal with the infinite types of machines and filament to get a successful print. then you can still lose control over it which is why if you sell the Gcode you put some tracking information inside the file. like 3d printed serial # buried inside the part that you can see with a Gcode reader/render. that at least will tell you whom leaked the Gcode but you will have to create individual models for sale(still possible) but if popular enough the part can be recreated and then undersold.

that got me into exploring one offs for customers. but then you are responsible for the output and if the customer is unhappy they will simply blame you for a flaw in there design and they expect you to fix it for them.
I got contracted by a company to create a prototype which took about 2 weeks worth of printing however these people had no idea how to create for a printer and everything was injection molded design and i had to sit that modifying everything to make it work. i made no money and honestly wasted my time.

I also made trinkets for people, like for a party or a wedding a card with a customized 3d printed item to make it more memorable. deadlines are REALLY hard this way on a small scale operation. if a 15 hour print spread over 3 machines has a problem there is no backup and you might not meet a deadline.

when you have to injection mold something that adds another layer of protection because of the equipment and materials so the design is harder to steal.

eventually i would imagine there will be a self destructing Gcode or STL file type which the industry will adopt this would run along parallel with the free stls we have today. a printer would take either one but the destructing files would help protect companies and making money.

“One does not simply use a picture as signature on Prusa forums”

Posted : 19/02/2019 5:21 pm
Steve
(@steve-3)
Estimable Member
Re: Let's talk business

One example is a company selling parts for a Mostly Printed CNC router (MPCNC). They give away the plans for anyone to print. They also sell the 3D printed parts for $135. They estimate 115 hours of print time and 1.8kg of filament, so this would work out to less than $1 per hour of printer time.

I suppose you could load a job and walk away, but you would still need to supply a small amount of labor.

They might make money selling the parts kits. They could buy parts in bulk and re-sell smaller quantities to multiple users.

Steve

Posted : 19/02/2019 7:08 pm
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(@)
Illustrious Member
Re: Let's talk business

I especially like that giant blue cast iron looking object in the video; must have been lots of fun printing and assembling it for the expo!

What - no one thought to include it as a gimmick/gag ?? Oh well... lol.

As for money in 3D? It's probably going to be the SERVER / PC cycle. At times the expense of a server will be affordable through compilation and centralization; other times distributed computing will fare better. I expect the same with 3D printers; as long as technology advances and you can get a better print by purchasing time on a more expensive machine someone else owns, there will be a market for the service; but at some point home printers will be "good enough" that the 3D print service bureau business will decline. Look at photo printing as another technology based industry that eventually folded. And once technology gets to in-home metal printers, expect some disruption in other industries.

Posted : 19/02/2019 7:24 pm
Nikolai
(@nikolai)
Noble Member
Re: Let's talk business

I'm not selling anything. For me it's a cost saver instead of money generator. For example if I can print a toy for my son for $5 instead of buying similar thing for $20, then I saved $15. I also make replacement parts which saves me money.
So I'm using it like a regular tool (hammer, saw, ..) which allows me to make stuff by myself instead of getting external help.

Often linked posts:
Going small with MMU2
Real Multi Material
My prints on Instagram

Posted : 19/02/2019 8:17 pm
BadFuse
(@badfuse)
Trusted Member
Topic starter answered:
Re: Let's talk business

Thank you for sharing your experience!

Posted : 19/02/2019 8:26 pm
BadFuse
(@badfuse)
Trusted Member
Topic starter answered:
Re: Let's talk business

`Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences.

Posted : 19/02/2019 8:34 pm
Robin
(@robin-4)
Estimable Member
Re: Let's talk business

By accident i have found an outlet for printed parts and i now have a lot of designs i use, all CAD draw by me. So far (6 months) it has paid for both my mk3's and one is upgraded to a bear frame and a few more bits. there is now way i could do it as a full time business, it just doesnt pay that much. It does allow me to indulge i what ever i want to do with the printer without thinking about cost.

But there is no way i would sell or pass on my Gcode or drawing files

Posted : 19/02/2019 9:51 pm
njordfabrication
(@njordfabrication)
New Member
RE: Let's talk business

Normally i would love to let everyone believe that 3d-printing as a business is a fail but somehow the giving spirit must have caught me off guard so here is my two cents. 😉

I develop and sell (among other manufacturing methods) 3d-printed handyman-related products here in scandinavia. im printing virtually 24/7 and i make a minimum of 2eur and maximum 3eur per hour of printtime for each printer. This adds up very quickly and 3dprinted products are my favourite product to sell as it´s dead easy to manufacture.

Im also running a CNC machine where i cut 16mm valchromat and turn into products but these are only manufactured one day per week (sundays). They yield 80-90eur per hour of machinetime but are a pain to babysit and so on. I also order lasercut aluminium and with a powdercoat oven and a pressbrake i manufacture products but the same thing applies.

Nothing beats 3d-printing when it comes to work<money-ratio. Especially with prusa machines.

Try not to think of 3d-printed products to sell but rather think of a product that fills a niche and if it lends itself to 3d-printing then go ahead!

Posted : 06/12/2020 12:25 pm
NyasiaCalhoun
(@nyasiacalhoun)
New Member
RE:

There is a big demand for FDM 3D printed parts right now. So you need to invest in this business. You can buy a 3D printer from many online stores or your local electronics and hardware store.

Posted : 29/09/2022 11:07 pm
funCoolio
(@funcoolio)
Trusted Member
RE: Let's talk business

Personally, I do not sell anything, on the contrary, I usually give what I print, in some cases those who asked me for the printed piece were so generous as to buy me a spool of filament.

In fact, the demand to design and print spare parts is quite good

1+1=10 - take a look at my disgusting and useless models

Posted : 30/09/2022 11:27 am
Clemens M.
(@clemens-m)
Noble Member
RE: Let's talk business

I am a technical engineer, interested in the ability to create my own parts. So 3D-printing was the logical consequense as I like to try to repair broken stuff. In adition my girlfriend is a glass artist I built a lot of molds for refractory concrete to melt glass and stuff like that. The 3D printer in combination with beeing able to design your own parts is a big cost saver. I am not using this as a business - I am not making money out of it, but I save costs in the workshop of my girlfriend and make things possible.

For me the fascination is - physical parts / electronics and micro controllers / software - that generates lots of possibilities to solve problems!

Best regards, Clemens

Posted : 30/09/2022 12:33 pm
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