Is 3D Printing Profitable?

The 3D printing industry has advanced rapidly in recent years, and why not? It is quite profitable, flexible, and more or less sustainable.

If 3D printing is something that intrigues you and if you want to find out if 3D printing is profitable, then keep on reading this guide.

Is 3D Printing Profitable

Here we will look at the cost break up, pros and cons, future prospects, and much more about this business.

What is 3D Printing & How Does It Work?

What is 3D Printing & How Does It Work

So 3D printing refers to making 3-dimensional objects using digital files. 3D printing uses additive technology that fuses and stacks layers of materials to create 3D objects.

3D printing is not only fast, but it allows you to create very complex designs as well that too with low fixed setup costs.

This type of printing is typically utilized in the following industries and products:

  • engineering industry
  • dental products
  • movie props
  • prosthetics
  • reconstructing fossils
  • reconstructing evidence in forensic pathology
  • industrial products
  • consumer products 
  • and more.

Watch this video to better understand how exactly 3D printing works:

How Much Does a 3D Printing Business Owner Make?

According to industry data, a small 3D printing business owner can make a revenue of $10,000 to $50,000 per year, and a mid-sized 3D printing business owner can make up to $500,000 per year.

This is average, and you must note that the income of a 3D printing business owner can vary based on their market conditions, local competition, brand image, etc.

How Profitable is 3D Printing Business?

How Profitable is 3D Printing Business

The profitability of your 3D business depends on a number of factors, such as your target audience, the type of product that you are selling, your marketing efforts, your pricing strategy, and more.

So to start, depending on the complexity of the design, 3D printing can cost anywhere between $30 to $1,000 and more.

For more sophisticated designs, the average cost could be $500; after deducting the supplies cost, you would get to keep a profit margin of 80%.

So if we assume that you are selling five pieces a week right from home, you can easily make up to $130,000 per year.

With more time, as your brand value increases, you can sell 25 pieces in a week and earn more money out of this business.

If you rent a place and hire a few people, your profit margin would be reduced by 30%.

How Bright is The Future Of 3D Printing?

The future of 3D printing seems very bright as it is one of the most evolving and in-demand technologies currently.

In fact, over the past five years, the value of the 3D printing business has increased by 25%, and experts predict that this growth will accelerate in the coming years.

According to 3D Hubs, the 3D printing market will grow by 17% to reach $19.9 billion in 2023.

Pros and Cons of 3D Printing Business

Pros of 3D Printing Business

  • Good profit margin.
  • Comparatively less competition.
  • Flexible business model.

Cons of 3D Printing Business

  • 3D printers requires constant care & maintenance knowledge.
  • Print failure can be a nightmare.
  • Time-consuming.
  • Only good as a passive income source.
  • Limited material choices

Investment Required To Start a 3D Printing Business

The startup cost of a 3D printing business range from $7,000 to $16,000, and if you rent a place or buy high-end printers then the cost could go as high as $48,547.

Here’s a breakdown of the investment required to start a 3D printing business:

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 – $200$175
Business licenses and permits$100 – $300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 – $300$250
3D Printer$3,000 – $7,000$5,000
Website setup$1,000 – $3,000$2,000
Design software$2,000 – $4,000$3,000
Materials for printing$500 – $1,000$750
Total$7,050 – $16,100$11,575

3D Printing Profit Calculator

To find out how much 3D printing profit costs, you need to have the following information:

Now to calculate the material cost, you can use the following formula:

material cost = ρ π × (d/2)² × L × price


  • ρ means the density of the material.
  • d is the diameter of the filament.
  • L refers to the length of filament used for printing.
  • Price is the price of material per unit weight (per pound, per kilogram, etc.).

Since the material cost can vary greatly based on what you are using, it is hard to tell the exact profit of 3D printing.

However, once you find out the material cost, this is how you will calculate the labor cost:

labor cost = time × hourly rate


  • The hourly rate refers to the cost per hour of 3D printing.
  • And time refers to the total time taken to finish the job.

Finally, add the markup to account for the profit:

final price = (material cost + labor cost) × (100% + markup)

And that’s it! You have found the total price of a 3D printing job.

How You Can Make Money From 3D Printing Business?

There are plenty of ways to make money from the 3D printing business. This includes:

  • You can sell custom-made products to customers.
  • You can also sell 3D designs online on platforms like Etsy, MyMiniFactory, Shapeways, etc.
  • If you have good knowledge of 3D printing, then you can conduct workshops for individuals who are interested in learning about this.
  • There are a plethora of industries that require prototypes of their products so you can sell 3D models for them and get good money.
  • You can also create an on-demand printing business, where the customers can come to your store and get anything they like printed in 3D.

Is 3D Printing Sustianable?

Is 3D Printing Sustianable

The sustainability of 3D printing is debatable.

On the one hand, it is more sustainable than traditional manufacturing processes because it reduces material waste that’s needed for each print.

It can also enable local production, which would reduce the carbon footprint caused due to transportation.

However, since 3D printing uses plastic greatly, it can lead to environmental pollution and energy consumption.

Wrapping Up

After looking at the details of the 3D printing business closely, we can say that 3D printing could be a good side hustle for you, especially if you have knowledge of this machine.

This business could be very profitable for you, especially if you plan it right.

The best part about this business is that there are multiple channels through which you can make money in this and monetize your revenue accordingly.


What are the barriers to entry in 3D printing business?

The few biggest barriers to entry in a 3D printing business are:

  • Funding the cost of investment.
  • Understanding how the machine works for better utilization and maintenance.
  • Competiton from existing 3D printing businesses.

Is 3D printing service in demand?

Yes, 3D printing service is in demand, especially in healthcare, automotive, aerospace, and entertainment sectors.

Is it possible to run a 3D printing business from home?

Yes, you can run a 3D printing business from home, but make sure you check the zoning laws and regulations in your local area.

Is there any legal considerations before starting a 3D printing business?

Just like any other business, there are legal considerations involved before starting a 3D printing business.

Just check with your local authority to know what all licenses and permits you will require for this business, depending on the state you live in.

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