Business Models in the Field of 3D Printing

There are a variety of ways to turn one’s passion for 3D printing into a job. Below we look at some of them.

3D printing has revolutionized several fields, from manufacturing to art, architecture, medicine and beyond. With its growing popularity and accessibility, many 3D printing enthusiasts are finding that it is possible to turn their passion into a profitable venture. Here are some ways you can monetize your passion for 3D printing.

Strategies for monetizing 3D printing


Offering consulting services is an effective way to capitalize on your expertise in 3D printing. You can assist companies or individuals who are looking to implement 3D printing in their production line or for prototype development.

Example: a consulting agency might specialize in assisting automotive companies that want to implement 3D printing in the production of specific components. Or it could help start-ups develop prototypes of innovative products using 3D printing.

Tip: always keep your 3D printing skills and knowledge up-to-date so that you can provide practical and relevant advice to your clients.

Selling products

Another way to make money from 3D printing is to design, print and sell customized products. These products can be sold online or through physical stores.

Example: a product designer can create a line of designer items, such as artistic lamps, unique key chains, or custom jewelry, using a 3D printer and sell them through their online or physical store.

Tip: to be successful in this area, you should strive to create unique, high-quality products that meet the specific needs or desires of your customers.

Printing services

If you own a 3D printer, you could monetize your investment by offering printing services to third parties. There are online platforms such as 3D Hubs that facilitate these types of services.

Example: a business might offer 3D printing services to produce parts for industrial machinery or create detailed architectural models for the construction industry.

Tip: keep your 3D printer in excellent condition to ensure that the printed products are of high quality.

Design licenses

You can also create 3D models and sell licenses to use these models to third parties.

Example: a designer might create a line of 3D printed jewelry and sell design licenses to jewelers or companies interested in producing and selling the jewelry.

Tip: make sure you have a good understanding of copyright and patent laws to protect your designs.


You can use crowdfunding platforms to finance 3D printing projects and sell the objects produced to project supporters.

Example: a designer might launch a crowdfunding campaign to finance the production of a new line of 3D printed jewelry and sell the finished items to supporters of the project.

Tip: to be successful with crowdfunding, it is important to have a solid marketing and communication strategy to promote your project and attract supporters.


If you have deep knowledge and expertise in 3D printing, you can offer training courses to individuals or companies interested in learning this technology.

Example: a company might offer training courses on how to use 3D printing for manufacturing or prototype development of new products.

Tip: keep the content of training courses up-to-date with the latest trends and innovations in 3D printing.

Designing for others

If you have skills in 3D modeling, you can design 3D models for others. Online services such as Shapeways allow you to sell your designs. The service prints the 3D model when someone orders it, and you, as the designer, receive a portion of the price of the object.

Tip: stay up-to-date on design trends to create models that are current and desired by the market.

Selling 3D objects online

The best way to sell 3D printed objects on the Internet is a place where people look to buy 3D printed objects. Popular platforms include Etsy (jewelry and art), Shapeways, i.Materialise, and Sculpteo. 3D designers use these platforms to sell their 3D printed creations.

The advantage of Etsy is that the designer is responsible for making the product. This way, the entire final product can be shipped with all its accessories. Shapeways, on the other hand, ships the raw 3D printed item directly to the buyer without accessories.


Shapeways is a 3D printing and on-demand manufacturing platform that allows users to upload, print, and sell their designs. Shapeways supports a wide range of print materials, including plastic, metal, ceramic, and resin, and has a number of tools to help optimize and finalize 3D models for printing.

Shapeways users can set up store and sell their products directly on the platform. Shapeways handles production, order management, and shipping, allowing designers to focus on designing and marketing their products.

Tip: take advantage of the Shapeways community to get feedback and improve your products. You can also enter design contests to increase your visibility.

Shapeways Marketplace


Etsy is a global e-commerce platform that focuses on unique, handmade and vintage products. It’s a great place to sell 3D printed products because of its large customer base looking for custom or one-of-a-kind items.

Users can set up store on Etsy and sell directly to customers. 3D printing on Etsy is very diverse, with products ranging from jewelry and fashion accessories to home goods and decorations. The unique aspect of Etsy is that the designer is responsible for producing and shipping the item, allowing you to provide a personal touch.

Tip: optimize your listings on Etsy with detailed descriptions, high-quality photos, and relevant keywords to help potential customers find your products.


i.Materialise is an online 3D printing service that offers a wide range of materials and finishes. Users can upload their 3D models, choose the material and finish, and then i.Materialise will print and ship the finished product.

i.Materialise also offers an online store service that allows users to sell their 3D printed products directly on the platform. Like Shapeways, i.Materialise handles the production and shipping, leaving designers to focus on the design and promotion of their products.

Tip: consider using i.Materialise’s post-production services to improve the look and feel of your products.


Sculpteo is another online 3D printing service that supports a variety of materials and offers full production and shipping services. Sculpteo has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for users to upload, optimize, and order 3D models.

Users can also open a store on Sculpteo and sell their 3D printed products. Like the other platforms, Sculpteo handles production and shipping, allowing designers to focus on creating and promoting their products.

Tip: take advantage of the analytics provided by Sculpteo to better understand your audience and tailor your products to their needs.

Other platforms

These platforms offer a variety of options for anyone interested in entering the world of 3D printing, whether you are looking to sell your 3D models, offer 3D printing services, or simply share your designs with a community of enthusiasts.

EtsySelling handcrafted, vintage and handmade productsEtsy
Shapeways3D printing and on-demand manufacturing platformShapeways
i.MaterialiseOnline 3D printing service with a wide range of materials and finishesi.Materialise
SculpteoOnline 3D printing service with a user-friendly user interfaceSculpteo
ThingiverseCommunity of 3D designers and creators with free modelsThingiverse
CGTraderMarketplace for 3D models that also offers a 3D printing serviceCGTrader
TurboSquidPlatform for selling professional 3D modelsTurboSquid
PinshapeMarketplace for 3D printing models with free and paid optionsPinshape
3DExportPlatform for selling, buying and sharing 3D models with 3D printing services3DExport
Cults3DCommunity of 3D printing enthusiasts to share and sell 3D modelsCults3D
GrabCADOnline community for mechanical engineering and design professionals with a library of free CAD modelsGrabCAD
TreatstockOn-demand 3D printing service and e-commerce platform for 3D printing servicesTreatstock
ZazzleOnline sales platform with customization of products, including 3D printed productsZazzle

In brief (summary)

3D printing offers an exciting range of opportunities to generate income. If you are ready to make the most of this technology, you can monetize your experience and expertise in a number of ways, including consulting, selling 3D printed products, offering 3D printing services, selling design licenses, crowdfunding, training, and designing for third parties.

Remember, success in the 3D printing market requires more than technical expertise. You will also need to develop a solid understanding of the market, design trends and marketing strategies. And, as in any business venture, you should be prepared for challenges and risks. With the right planning and strategy, you can create a profitable income stream using 3D printing technology.