Who here is making money 3D printing?

I am a hobbyist, and my job will probably never require me to design and print anything for work.

I do really enjoy the process of conceptualizing, designing, and printing, and have done so for myself and some close acquaintances.

I’ve spent many hours/days learning the tools of the trade and was wondering if there was an opportunity to make some money as a side gig. Has anyone been successful doing this, and how did you go about it?

Here are a couple of my early designs, I plan to upload more once I clean things up a bit.



I make a small amount of money selling my original designs as prints on etsy. It’s not a lot, but thats how i want it so that it’s manageable with my single printer. My goal is to get the etsy gig just big enough to 100% pay for this hobby.


I print FDM. I’ve paid for the printers and make a little money each month. Not enough to live on but enough to finance the hobby.

My mom hooked me up with a teacher who wanted a watercolor insert for altoid tins. The lady was enthusiastic and would pay me every year to make them for all her classes. The design she pointed me to was a BSD license but I remade it anyway. I’d make like 100 prints at $5 each. Made like $500 X 4 years.

I haven’t heard from her for two years. I don’t know if she still teaching or found another printer.

I make some photographay related devices and give them away on printables/thingverse. For the most popular designs I mention that they are for sale on etsy. I know there are a lot of people interested in the things but without a 3d printer. I’m also not shy on mentioning my designs on social media if they are a solution to that person’s photographic problem. On etsy I don’t mention thingiverse/printables except for one disability related item. The etsy sales are about $120 a month.


Im making the filament vendors money does that count?

rasterweb avatar

I make money, but I produce entire products that use a 3D printed enclosure along with electronic components and code that I write. Just trying to sell something you printed seems like a terrible business plan.


Yes, I make some money but barely enough to be worth it.

I sell some specially fixturing to my work. Sell them $30-50 each. Sold a dozen or so over the last 7 years and 3 printers.

Started selling on Etsy about a year ago and Xmas I made a decent amount very fast(about $500 in a month). After the new year it dropped to near nothing until recently I’m getting some sells. Everything I sold was my own designs, but it’s a race to the bottom on there. Far to many people stealing from Thingiverse and selling at a near loss. After Etsy takes its cut which can be a decent chunk your left with near nothing after materials and shipping. Expect $2 to $3 a hour of print time. I am barely in profit to be honest selling there.


Not making any money with it but the 3D printer is helping us make money.

I’m working with a windows and door manufacturer that has around 80 employees.

The owner got a 3D printer that runs pretty continuously for at least 30% of the time I would say.

We are doing a lot of drill or assembly jigs with it. We are also sometimes doing assembly parts for custom projects.

Like someone really wants to make something’s with weird angles or hardware that are not compatible together then we can throw a 3D printed part in it to make it work.


I created one product (Frog Case) and people on Reddit were asking me to print it for them. Made a Shopify to make it easier and now I sell dozens of my original designs on there. (Frogcase.store)

Lately I make custom phone cases for the Galaxy Fold series

On average I make $300 a month, but highest sales month was $1k


I printed some stuff that I thought was cool and just put it up on Etsy early this year at a price that would be worthwhile for me. I was shocked when the first order came in as I never thought anyone would buy it. Then the orders kept coming in and I’ve grossed about 6k so far on Etsy. It’s nice that all of my hobby equipment and filaments are paid for and that’s all I’m looking for.

I continue to randomly list stuff that I think is cool. Sometimes they sell and sometimes they don’t and that’s fine. I don’t do SEO or research keywords or advertise. If I get bored of selling prints one day then I’ll just stop.

And printing is the least time consuming part of the process. It’s the packing and taking it to the post office that takes up the most time.


I think I could do an etsy shop and print video game props for people pretty profitably, but I’m afraid of turning a hobby into a job and sucking the fun out. I might try doing a really low volume just to have the occasional printer upgrade pay for itself.


You could just make a thing when you feel like it and throw it up for sale, that’s my idea but tbh i haven’t been able to keel my printer working throughout a single project so nothing ever gets done.

@RegalPotoo@lemmy.world avatar

Not money as such, but being able to talk about printing made it easier to hang out with one of the production engineering teams at work - their Friday drinks are pretty fun, and the manager has a pretty liberal understanding of what “business expense” means


I tried, but we have paper based currency notes in my country and PLA notes were a dead giveaway, no shops accepted them sadly


You see, the pro move is to print a credit card. Plastic all the way!


I’ll be damned!


Print Canadian currency—it actually is plastic these days. 😅


When I see prices for 3D printing service it always looks unprofitable to me. People saying filament cost only 10$ means nothing to me. My time and knowledge, electricity, initial machine cost, maintainence, dealing with failures, postprocessing… then I see big printing farms…oh thats why! I just love it as a hobby 😄

3D modeling on the other hand can be super profitable


Because it’s the harder skill, IMO. People find out I can print and start asking for really custom stuff, like all I have to do is picture it in my head and it will print.

I can draw a little in CAD, because that’s part of my day job. But I don’t know how to make a model of Mario dabbing.


Your Thingiverse only has two over year old designs? How serious are you?

Yea, I am net positive with my 3d printing, that includes buying another printer. You have to remember that the raw material the 3d printers use is relatively cheap. I can print off something that costs me less than $1 per part, not including labor, electricity, etc, and still charge multiple times what it cost me to make. #d printing is basically a money making machine if you find the right niche and are decent at design.


Haha yep! There are actually several iterations on those models that have not yet been uploaded, as well as some commissioned work that I keep on a private share.

If I can make enough to offset the cost of my time and materials, I’m more than happy.


How did you get started with selling 3d prints? Where are you selling your things?


So what I sell is kind of a replacement part for a machine that usually wealthy people own. Sorry I know that’s super vague. But anyways I redesigned as one part to make it custom and now I sell those custom parts. The website I use to sell them very specific to people who own these so if I had any advice I’d say get into a niche market.


So I don’t 3D print, and I just happened to come across this thread scrolling all, but on the flipside, is there a good way to commission someone to do smaller jobs? I embroider and the available floss bobbin options are a total suckfest. I would happily pay for some better ones, but I don’t know how to even find someone to give my money to?


If you can source an stl file or similar for what you want printed. For really small batches, there are people on Etsy who do commissions.


Pre-edit: I just realized I never actually answered your question. I honestly don’t know how most people go about finding someone to design and prototype, but judging by some of the responses here I think we’ll get some good advice. Feel free to contact me directly if you want me to look into the draft.

What has been super helpful to me iwhen people come to me with requests is to send me the most detailed diagrams or images of any currently available offerings or a combination of them so I have a good starting point.

As a specific example, someone asked me to design a handheld door lock retainer to practice lockpicking. The overall shape and ergonomic design were up to me, but this image was provided which included very specific measurements for the lock:



Thanks! I found a design on printables, now I just need someone to print me like…200 of them. Hallelujah, no more paying DMC for their crappy product that only kind of works.


Getting a model printed is pretty straightforward. There are many online services where you can send a 3D model file and they mail you a print of it. The bigger challenge is the design. Paying a professional to design something for you is going to be very expensive. However, many 3D printing enthusiasts design their own models as a hobby and make them available for free. I would suggest looking on sites like printables and thingiverse for something that suits your needs. If you can find it there, then you can just send the file to a printing service and have it made. Other options would be spend time to learn modeling/design yourself, or find a kind person to do you a favor and design something custom for much less money than a professional would charge.


Thank you! I found pretty much exactly what I’m looking for on printables, so at least I have a starting point.


There are ppl on eBay who will print your stl file for you. I’ve had luck asking sellers who does their stuff.
I sew a bit so ik a small bit about bobbins and idk if a 3d printed one would work well or hold up.


It’s not sewing thread bobbins, it’s these - they’re just a thin piece of plastic to start with, so I think 3D printing will work fine. They mostly just sit in a box or on a ring if I’m taking a project with me somewhere.


Oh yes those are super easy to design and print


Check your local library system. One of mine has a 3d printer for use.


No my printer only eats money.


… and poops out failed prints/spaghetti?

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