[2023] Can 3D Printing be a Good Side Hustle?

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Quick Answer

Yes, 3D printing can be a good side hustle. With the right approach and a bit of creativity, you can turn your 3D printer into a money-making machine. Whether you're selling 3D printed products, offering 3D printing services, or creating custom designs, there are plenty of opportunities to generate income. However, it's important to consider the costs, time commitment, and market demand before diving into the world of 3D printing as a side hustle.

Quick Tips and Facts

Before we dive into the details, here are some quick tips and facts to keep in mind:

  • Invest in a quality 3D printer: A reliable and high-quality 3D printer will ensure better print quality and reduce the chances of technical issues.
  • Master the art of 3D design: Learning how to create your own 3D designs will give you a competitive edge and allow you to offer unique products and services.
  • Consider your target market: Research the market demand for 3D printed products or services in your area to ensure there is a viable customer base.
  • Calculate your costs: Factor in the cost of materials, electricity, maintenance, and other expenses when determining your pricing strategy.
  • Market your products or services: Utilize social media, online marketplaces, and local advertising to promote your 3D printing business and attract customers.

Is 3D Printing a Viable Side Hustle?

3D printing has gained popularity in recent years, and many people are wondering if it can be a viable side hustle. Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of 3D printing as a side hustle:


  • Low startup costs: Compared to other businesses, starting a 3D printing side hustle requires relatively low upfront investment. You can find affordable 3D printers for as little as $200.
  • Flexibility: With a 3D printing side hustle, you have the freedom to work on your own schedule and take on projects that interest you.
  • Creative outlet: 3D printing allows you to bring your ideas to life and create customized products or prototypes.
  • Diverse range of opportunities: From selling 3D printed products to offering 3D printing services, there are multiple ways to make money with a 3D printer.


  • Time-consuming: 3D printing can be a time-consuming process, especially for larger or more complex projects. It's important to consider the time commitment required for each project and manage your workload effectively.
  • Market saturation: Depending on your location and niche, the market for 3D printed products or services may already be saturated. It's essential to research the competition and find a unique selling proposition.
  • Technical challenges: 3D printing can come with its fair share of technical challenges, such as print failures, calibration issues, and software troubleshooting. It's crucial to have the patience and problem-solving skills to overcome these obstacles.

Overall, 3D printing can be a viable side hustle if you're willing to put in the time and effort to learn the necessary skills, market your products or services effectively, and adapt to the ever-evolving industry.

How to Make Money with a 3D Printer

Now that we've established that 3D printing can be a viable side hustle, let's explore some ways to make money with a 3D printer:

  1. Sell 3D Printed Products: Create and sell unique 3D printed products on online marketplaces like Etsy or your own e-commerce website. Popular products include jewelry, home decor items, phone cases, and customized gifts.

  2. Offer 3D Printing Services: Provide 3D printing services to individuals or businesses that need prototypes, custom parts, or personalized items. Advertise your services locally and online to attract customers.

  3. Print-on-Demand Services: Partner with print-on-demand platforms that allow you to upload your 3D designs and earn a commission whenever someone orders a print. This is a great option if you don't have your own 3D printer.

  4. Create Custom Designs: Use your 3D design skills to create custom designs for clients. This could include designing unique products, creating prototypes, or assisting with architectural models.

  5. Teach 3D Printing Workshops: Share your knowledge and expertise by offering 3D printing workshops or classes. This can be done in-person or online, and it's a great way to generate income while helping others learn a new skill.

  6. Rent Out Your 3D Printer: If you have a high-quality 3D printer that is not in use all the time, consider renting it out to individuals or businesses who need occasional access to a printer.

Remember, the key to success in the 3D printing industry is finding a niche, providing high-quality products or services, and marketing yourself effectively.

6 Ideas to Make Money from 3D Printing

Looking for some specific ideas to make money from 3D printing? Here are six profitable opportunities to consider:

  1. Customized Jewelry: Create unique and personalized jewelry pieces using your 3D printer. Offer customization options like engraving or incorporating birthstones to attract customers looking for one-of-a-kind pieces.

  2. Cosplay Props: Cosplay enthusiasts are always in need of high-quality props and accessories. Use your 3D printer to create intricate and accurate cosplay props, such as weapons, armor, or masks.

  3. Home Decor Items: Design and print home decor items like vases, planters, lampshades, or wall art. Experiment with different materials and finishes to offer a variety of options to your customers.

  4. Replacement Parts: Many people struggle to find replacement parts for household items or electronics. Use your 3D printer to create custom replacement parts, saving customers time and money.

  5. Educational Tools: 3D printing is increasingly used in education. Create educational tools like anatomical models, geography maps, or science experiment kits to cater to the growing demand in this market.

  6. Prototyping Services: Businesses often require prototypes before moving forward with mass production. Offer your 3D printing services to startups or inventors who need high-quality prototypes at an affordable price.

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but the possibilities are endless. Get creative, identify market gaps, and leverage your 3D printing skills to make money.

How to Get Started with 3D Printing

If you're new to 3D printing and want to get started with your side hustle, here are some steps to follow:

  1. Research and Choose the Right 3D Printer: Take the time to research different 3D printers and choose one that fits your budget and requirements. Consider factors like print quality, build volume, and ease of use.

  2. Learn 3D Design Software: Familiarize yourself with 3D design software like Tinkercad, Fusion 360, or Blender. There are plenty of online tutorials and resources available to help you learn the basics.

  3. Practice and Experiment: Start by printing simple designs and gradually work your way up to more complex projects. Experiment with different materials, settings, and techniques to improve your skills.

  4. Build an Online Presence: Create a website or social media profiles to showcase your work and attract potential customers. Share photos and videos of your prints, and engage with the 3D printing community.

  5. Market Your Services: Utilize online platforms like Etsy, Shapeways, or local classifieds to promote your 3D printing services. Consider offering discounts or special promotions to attract your first customers.

  6. Continuous Learning: Stay updated with the latest trends, techniques, and advancements in the 3D printing industry. Join online communities, attend workshops, and follow industry experts to expand your knowledge.

Remember, 3D printing is a skill that improves with practice. Don't be discouraged by initial setbacks or failed prints. Keep learning, experimenting, and refining your craft.

Managing Your 3D Printing Business Expenses

Running a 3D printing side hustle comes with its fair share of expenses. Here are some key expenses to consider and manage effectively:

  1. Materials: The cost of filament or resin can add up, especially if you're working on large or complex projects. Keep track of your material usage and calculate the cost per print to determine your pricing strategy.

  2. Electricity: 3D printers consume electricity while running, so factor in the cost of electricity when determining your overall expenses. Consider using energy-efficient settings or scheduling prints during off-peak hours to save on electricity bills.

  3. Maintenance and Upgrades: Like any other piece of equipment, 3D printers require regular maintenance and occasional upgrades. Budget for maintenance costs, such as replacing nozzles or belts, and consider upgrading your printer as your business grows.

  4. Software and Tools: Depending on the complexity of your projects, you may need to invest in 3D design software, slicing software, or additional tools like a caliper or a filament dryer. Research the options available and budget accordingly.

  5. Packaging and Shipping: If you're selling physical products, don't forget to account for packaging materials and shipping costs. Consider using eco-friendly packaging options and explore different shipping providers to find the most cost-effective solution.

By keeping track of your expenses and optimizing your processes, you can ensure that your 3D printing side hustle remains profitable.

Alternatives to 3D Printing

While 3D printing can be a great side hustle, it's not the only option available. Here are a few alternative side hustles that you might consider:

  1. Crafting: If you enjoy working with your hands, consider crafting and selling handmade products like jewelry, pottery, or woodworking creations.

  2. Print-on-Demand Merchandise: Design and sell custom merchandise like t-shirts, mugs, or phone cases through print-on-demand platforms. This eliminates the need for a physical inventory.

  3. Freelance Services: Offer your skills and expertise in areas like graphic design, writing, programming, or social media management as a freelancer.

  4. Dropshipping: Start an online store and partner with suppliers who handle inventory and shipping. This allows you to focus on marketing and customer service.

  5. Tutoring or Teaching: If you have knowledge or expertise in a particular subject, consider offering tutoring or teaching services either in-person or online.

Remember, the best side hustle is one that aligns with your skills, interests, and goals. Explore different options and choose the one that suits you best.

FAQs about 3D Printing

This illustration depicts a three-dimensional (3D), computer-generated image of a number of oblong-shaped, Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria. The artistic recreation was based upon scanning electron microscopic (SEM) imagery. See PHIL 21922, for another view of these microbes.

Is 3D printing a viable side hustle?

Yes, 3D printing can be a viable side hustle. With the right approach and a bit of creativity, you can turn your 3D printer into a money-making machine. However, it's important to consider the costs, time commitment, and market demand before diving into the world of 3D printing as a side hustle.

Is it profitable to sell 3D prints?

The profitability of selling 3D prints depends on various factors, including market demand, competition, pricing strategy, and production costs. It's important to research the market, identify a niche, and offer high-quality products or services to maximize your profitability.

How to make side money with a 3D printer?

There are several ways to make side money with a 3D printer, including selling 3D printed products, offering 3D printing services, creating custom designs, teaching workshops, or renting out your 3D printer. Choose the option that aligns with your skills and interests.

Can a person make money with a 3D printer?

Yes, a person can make money with a 3D printer. However, success in the 3D printing industry requires dedication, creativity, and a willingness to continuously learn and adapt to market trends. It's important to approach it as a business and invest time and effort into marketing, customer service, and product development.


In conclusion, 3D printing can be a rewarding and profitable side hustle if you approach it with the right mindset and strategies. Whether you're selling 3D printed products, offering services, or creating custom designs, there are plenty of opportunities to generate income. However, it's important to consider the costs, time commitment, and market demand before diving in. With dedication, creativity, and a bit of business savvy, you can turn your 3D printer into a valuable asset for your side hustle.

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