DIY

8 Ways to Make Money With a 3D Printer

Start your side hustle by putting your creativity and your 3D printer to work.
Savannah Sher Avatar
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To some, 3D printing may still seem like a thing of the future. Just a few short years ago, 3D printers were expensive devices available only to tech aficionados with sizable budgets. Today, however, the technology has become more widespread and, as a result, more accessible and affordable. In fact, those who aren’t ready to invest in a 3D printer of their own may even be able to borrow one from their local library.

The best 3D printers are easy enough for beginners to work with and capable of creating nearly anything that users can dream up. They’re not only neat devices for crafting and other hobbies, but they can also be launchpads for a small business or side hustle selling 3D-printed items on platforms like Etsy and eBay, or at local craft shows and fairs. Here are eight smart ways to make money with a 3D printer.

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Toys

Etsy making money with a 3d printer 3d printed dinosaurs
Photo: Esty via FumanaShop

The types of 3D-printed toys available on the market range from vehicles and figurines to puzzles and board games. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to creating toys for both children and adults. For inspiration, check out this 3D-printed articulated dinosaur or this flexible dragon sensory toy, both available from FumanaShop at Etsy. More experienced 3D-printer users can create original designs, but even beginners can participate thanks to templates online. Search for 3D print models, and you’ll find low-cost or free stl files you can download to get started making 3D printed toys right away.

Jewelry 

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Photo: Etsy via nervoussystem

While many crafters may have already tried their hands at jewelry-making, 3D printers have completely revolutionized the process. From intricate pendants to bold statement earrings, 3D-printed jewelry is becoming increasingly popular because of the unique designs and customization that the technology makes possible. Crafting custom jewelry the old-fashioned way takes lots of time and effort, but with a 3D printer, the process is much simpler. In a particularly clever application of 3D printing’s strengths, Etsy seller NervousSystem creates both nylon jewelry like these spiral earrings and silver jewelry cast on wax 3D-printed versions, like this silver cnidaria ring.

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Home Decor

Etsy making money with a 3d printer face planter
Photo: Etsy via PRINTERROR

From innovative sculpture to unique wall art, 3D printing enables people to express themselves creatively through their home decor. While decorative accessories are especially appropriate for 3D printing, the technology also works well for functional pieces like lampshades, furniture knobs, and even intricate jewelry holders. Rather than mass-produced, bland items, try something quirky. Take inspiration from creations like the original polyface planter by PrintError at Etsy.

Kitchen Tools

Etsy making money with a 3d printer bagel cutting guide
Photo: Etsy via ProlificPrints3D

With the help of 3D printers, it’s now possible to quickly design and manufacture customized kitchen tools that are both cost-effective and highly functional. Not only can 3D printing be used to produce a wide variety of kitchen utensils, but it also allows for unique shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and finishes that cannot be achieved with traditional manufacturing methods. We like this spaghetti measuring tool and this bagel slicer guide from ProlificPrints3D at Etsy.

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Home Office Supplies

Etsy making money with a 3d printer sticky note holder
Photo: Etsy via hohneyandivy

3D printing technology is making its way into offices around the world as businesses begin to explore ways of using 3D printers for office supplies and desk accessories. 3D printing can be used to create a wide range of items that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing, like this succulent pot and desk tray and this sticky note holder by HoneyAndIvy at Etsy. Not only do these printed items offer practical solutions for the workplace or home office, but they also provide an opportunity to showcase individual creativity while stimulating conversation among coworkers.

Electronics Accessories

Etsy making money with a 3d printer watch charger
Photo: Etsy via GoldiesVinyl

Electronics accessories are an ever-growing category, and there are lots of different types of 3D-printed examples available online. 3D printers are great for making necessities like smartphone cases and charging cables, smartwatch bands and power banks. Simply go online for ideas: Etsy is rife with 3D-printed accessories that can spur creativity, like this AirTag mount for an Airpod case or this colorful Apple Watch stand by GoldiesVinyl at Etsy. Since people typically use their devices every day, these items tend to be in high demand year-round, making them great staples for online sales.

Hobby Supplies

Etsy making money with a 3d printer soap molds
Photo: Etsy via TheMakerShoppe

3D printing may be a hobby in and of itself, but it’s also a wonderful way to create crafting and hobby supplies. You’ll find a variety of molds for creating products to use or sell, like these soap bar molds or bath bomb molds in the shape of baby feet by TheMakerShoppe at Etsy. 3D printing creators are also well positioned to craft items for model hobbyists, including miniature buildings, cars, and airplanes as well as simple figurines or intricate renderings of favorite characters, game pieces, or toys.

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Garage Gadgets

Etsy making money with a 3d printer sanding pad holder
Photo: Etsy via WheatState3D

One place where 3D-printed items can come in especially handy is in the garage or toolshed, where there is often a need for specialized solutions to storage issues or tool management problems. Fortunately, there are seemingly countless options out there for 3D-printed items that can help, like this sanding pad holder or this hex bit organizer by WheatState3D at Etsy.