If you have entrepreneurial aspirations, and are looking for a unique business model, 3D printing might be the field that catches your eye. Its cutting-edge technology makes it a good bet as a future-proof business, and its wide-open world of applications makes it a field in which you may find the perfect niche for your talents and goals.
3D Printing by the Numbers
According to 3DHub’s 3D Printing Trends Report, the market size for 3D printing is a whopping $10 billion, with an expected growth of 23.5 percent each year for the next five years.
The same report breaks down the overall 3D printing market into the following broad segments:
- 3D printers and software sales (27 percent)
- 3D printing service providers (24 percent)
- Materials (15 percent)
- Online 3D printing services (9-12 percent)
- Other services (21 percent)
3D Printing in the Real World
There are two main ways that 3D printing is used today in business: prototyping and additive manufacturing.
Prototyping: 3D printing offers designers and engineers a quick and cost-effective way to create models and prototypes for a variety of design projects. By providing real models at a fraction of the cost of more traditional prototyping, 3D printing gives designers and engineers greater flexibility throughout the design process.
Additive Manufacturing: For manufacturers, 3D printing enables mass customization, distributed manufacturing, and even on-demand production. One notable example of 3D printing in use is in the auto industry. Currently, GM, Ford, BMW, Porsche, and Volkswagen, and Mercedes-Benz are all using 3D printing in the manufacturing process.
Business Opportunities in 3D Printing
While the growth of 3D printing is being driven, in part, by large manufacturers, there are still multiple business opportunities for enterprising entrepreneurs in the space. Consider these possibilities:
Prototyping Services: Because the cost of 3D printers is still quite high, many smaller design firms prefer to outsource their 3D prototyping. Offering prototyping services to such firms may be a lucrative venture for the right entrepreneur.
3D Customization: As 3D printing becomes more widely understood, consumer demand for customized products will likely continue to grow. Customizing and improving upon established designs could become more widely desired. For instance, 3D printing would allow for customization of everything from toys to orthotic insoles for shoes.
3D Design Services: Offering 3D design services for home décor, jewelry, and food art and design are all possibilities to explore if you have a creative flair and a 3D printer.
3D Scanning Services: There is a growing demand for 3D scanning services, which may be used to replace parts of machinery which are no longer manufactured, to duplicate objects that are no longer available commercially, and so on. Some consumers even ask for pets to be scanned and replicated in 3D as keepsakes.
Financing a 3D Printing Business
Despite the myriad applications for which they can be used, 3D printers are still quite expensive. According to All3DP, the cost of a professional-grade 3D printer ranges from $1,000-$10,000, with most businesses landing at the pricier end of that scale.
Add to that the cost of electricity, maintenance, software, and filaments for the printer, and your costs increase considerably.
If you have the desire, skills and/or know-how to start your own 3D printing business, but you lack the finances to get it done, Benetrends can help. Our team of highly skilled professionals can work with you to find the best financing options available, including the possibility of using your own 401(k) to fund your new venture. Download Innovative Funding Strategies For Entrepreneurs to learn more today.