The 3D printing industry has recaptured some of the start-up magic of the personal computer industry. With 3D printing, it seems that whatever your mind can conceive can be translated into physical reality. Therefore, now is the time for entrepreneurs to look at how to get into the 3D printing industry. Let’s do that here, starting with the most whimsical and going on to the most practical.
If there’s an almost universal way on how to get into the 3D printing industry, this is it. Movies, TV shows, cartoons, anime, comic books, and other popular media today have millions of fans. Many of such enthusiasts want customized figurines of their favorite heroes (and villains too!). If you have artistic talent or can hire an artist, you can cater to the custom figurine market.
Yes, in many cases you’ll need to obtain licensing and may be rebuffed. But don’t lose hope! Even without licensing, there are many opportunities here. Many war gamers, for example, want their miniature soldiers to adhere to authentic period dress. Don’t forget that this market also sells unique 3D printed accessories such as specialized weapons and armor for figurines.
Selfies in 3D
The word ‘selfie’ has entered the popular lexicon thanks to smartphones. With 3D printing, it takes on a new meaning. Thanks to 3D printing, you can scan a person’s body. With the accumulated data, you will be able to create a full-color, realistically detailed miniature figurine in the exact likeness of your customer.
There are companies that have pioneered this 3D niche, but there could still be room for you too. There may yet be new angles to tackle. One idea could be to start marketing 3D selfies as a sideline to families who come to a photographer for a family portrait. And how about wedding cakes with realistic figurines of the actual bride and groom?
The 3D printed jewelry market has already developed several levels. Maybe you just want to make simple logos and emblems. In that case, an inexpensive printer that extrudes plastic will do.
3D printing, however, can rise to exquisite levels of artistry. This includes designs that would be impossible to achieve by human hand or any other manufacturing process. Check out the minutiae 3D works on Etsy shop for your inspiration. You will find fine examples of how to get into the 3D printing industry by making jewelry.
“Don’t play with your food!” our parents tell us. 3D printers offer an opportunity to do just that. 3D printers with frosting in their extruder nozzles can carry the traditional birthday cake well beyond the specialized designs you see these days at the supermarket bakery.
Another method on how to get into the 3D printing industry with food is by using 3D printers to make molds into which pastries and candies can be formed. This is the technique used by young entrepreneur and Instagram sensation Dinara Kasko. She is even selling her unique silicone molds together with her recipes.
Would children be more inclined to eat vegetables if they were made into a paste and printed in the shapes of dinosaurs and dragons? And the shape is just the beginning — what about new culinary creations that can come about when we can precisely mix different-tasting foods down to the cubic millimeter?
Rather than seek customers, why not have the customers come to you? This was the idea behind 3D Hubs. This is a community of 3D printer owners who offer their services to the public in their localities.
3D Hubs offers two routes on how to get into the 3D printing industry. If you have a printer of your own, you can offer your services to others. If you want to create something with a printer but either don’t have a printer or one that doesn’t meet your entrepreneurial needs, you can contract services with 3D Hubs. A manufacturer in your area will bring your creation into existence and deliver the results to you in around 10 days.
Suppose you have a classic car and a piece of interior trim brakes. Do you blemish the beauty of your baby with duct tape or search vainly online for a part that hasn’t been made in decades — or can you 3D print one in your own garage?
Well, the average person probably won’t be able to do the latter for a while. Therefore, in the meantime, the automobile aftermarket parts present another opportunity for how to get into the 3D printing industry. If this interests you, here’s an article from Car and Driver on the future of 3D printed automotive parts.
The most serious application for 3D printers today is in the field of education. If this is truly tomorrow’s technology, then we all need to learn how to apply it.
Schools and libraries are catching on to the 3D printing revolution. Just as with personal computers, public educational institutions are purchasing 3D printers and training students in how to use them. And let’s not confine ourselves just to the youngsters. There are plenty of older people who want to learn how to get into the 3D printing industry.
Are the schools and libraries in your community fully up to speed with the new technology or do they have problems to be ironed out? Their problems are your opportunity to supply training and materials.
Where to Go from Here
These are just some of the ways on how to get into the 3D printing industry that people are doing right now. There may still be room in these segments of the 3D industry for you, especially if you can deliver a product to a new market with a creative twist.
So take the plunge. Get a printer. Learn to use a design program like Fusion 360 or SolidWorks. Read books, watch online tutorials, go to group meetings. Form your own ideas, and see how far you can go. Ultimately, it’s up to you to figure out how to get into the 3D printing industry.