In recent years, 3D printers have increased in quality, usability, and decreased in price – meaning that many people can now enter the world of 3D printing. If you’re a budding entrepreneur with a 3D printer and want to break into this growing industry but you’re unsure of what niche to specialize in, this guide offers 5 3D printing businesses ideas you can use.

What is 3D printing?

Put simply, 3D printing is when 3D objects are made layer-by-layer according to a computer design. Also known as additive manufacturing, the 3D printing process creates layers of material to create an object – so it is often less wasteful than traditional manufacturing and objects don’t need to be made in bulk.

While some people with 3D printers offer a simple print-on-demand service – in which customers or businesses send a 3D printing file and you print whatever they want – this market is now flooded. If you want to break into the 3D printing market, finding a niche is key and you’ll need an understanding of the computer designing behind it. If you’re not savvy on that side of things, you could find a 3D designer for hire to handle the computer design element of your business.

5 3D Printing Business Ideas

1.Customized eyewear

The eyewear market is expected to grow to USD 172.42 Billion by 2028. The 3D printer is a big part of this growth. Not everyone has symmetrical ears or average-sized noses or heads. 3D printing means that glasses, sunglasses, and specialist eyewear such as sports glasses, can be printed on-demand and customized to the customer’s specifications.

2. Rare spare parts

Restoring vintage cars is a popular hobby, but sometimes restorations require rare spare automotive parts that are difficult, if not impossible, to find. 3D printing has transformed this process as spare parts can be made in seconds with the right design.

3. Game pieces

Table-top gaming, whether it’s board games or table-top roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, is a booming industry. Gamers enjoy collecting figurines or having custom-made tokens for their games. 3D printing can create figurines, tokens, and plenty more for gamers. Miniature hobbyists, such as people who make miniature train sets or towns, are also purchasers of figurines and small parts that a 3D printer can make cheaply and easily.

4. Clothing components

E-commerce sales make up 29.5% of the US fashion retail market and this number is steadily growing. As new fashion e-commerce businesses appear every day, many of them are in need of specific or customized clothing components, such as buttons, zippers, buckles, and other accessories. 3D printing can create small orders of these specialized components for a small fashion company.

5. Prototypes

Plenty of startups and even large companies need prototypes. These are early versions of a product that can be shown to potential investors and manufacturers. Prototypes, however, can be expensive, as companies won’t sell them and don’t want to make them in bulk. 3D printing is creating prototypes for companies at a far lower price and to the exact specifications that the company wants.