With the development of 3D printing, which creates multi-dimensional objects, it’s now easy to make a wide range of products quickly, efficiently, and sustainably. The opportunities are practically endless. Plus, you can start a 3D printing business from home. So, if you want to start this business but you’re unsure where to begin, you came to the right place. 

In this guide, you’ll learn:

What you need to start your 3D printing business

Starting a 3D printing business and making it profitable can be challenging without a clear plan. Let’s go over the key things to consider. 

Conduct market research

Before you get into 3D printing, it’s essential to understand the industry. With market research, you can learn about the trends and popular products. 

The more you assess the environment and its big competitors, the easier it will be to succeed. Research also helps you predict profitability and determine what you can do to stand out

When doing market research, you may want to look at:

Further reading: a complete guide to market research for your new business.

Find your niche

Once you understand the 3D printing industry, decide what services or products you’ll offer with this business. 

Deciding what to focus on can be a hurdle with so many options. But, narrowing down your operations will help you find a unique selling point that draws in customers. As a result, you can remain competitive

So ask yourself: What will you sell or offer? What market will you focus on? 

For example, you might choose to 3D print: 

  • Furniture
  • Jewellery 
  • Shoes or clothing 
  • Sculptures or art
  • Food
  • Mechanical equipment or tools
  • Products on demand

When choosing your path, you may want to look at a few successful 3D printing businesses, such as:

Read on: how to find your niche

Buy equipment and supplies 

The most important startup cost for your 3D printing business is, unsurprisingly, a 3D printer. 

To create professional and sales-worthy products, you’ll need a quality printer. Depending on how big you want your printer to be, it can range from £700- £10,000 or more. Find options at Technology Outlet

Buying a 3D printer may be a one-time purchase you can earn back over time. But, it’s a big commitment, especially with 3D printing technology constantly changing. So, leasing might be the better option

If you lease, you’ll have ongoing expenses for your printer. But, you may have access to more industrial printing options, and you won’t tie yourself to one in the long run. Check out Laserlines for leasing options. 

Aside from the printer, you’ll need supplies for whatever you plan to print

Set up your workspace and sales platform

Your at-home workspace

As you run this business from home, it’s important to have a designated workspace where you can focus. 

You’ll also need space for your 3D printer if you plan to keep one at home. Keep in mind that these machines can be large depending on the model. 

See also: how to run a successful business from home

Your sales platform

With an at-home business, you’ll also need a method of selling your products. For example, you may choose to sell online and ship products through the post

If this is the case, consider whether you’ll set up an online shop or use a platform like Amazon or Etsy

Get funding

Think about how you’ll cover the startup costs of your 3D printing business. If you don’t have the available cash to fund it yourself, you may seek an external source.  

For example, you could:

Write a business plan and budget 

One of the most important steps to preparing for your new venture is writing a business plan. This plan will outline the steps we’ve covered so far while also listing your:

  • Business name
  • Mission statement and values
  • Long, medium, and short term goals and objectives
  • Plan towards profitability

On top of this, the business plan should include your starting budget. This will help you predict and plan for how much you hope to spend and earn in the first month, year, and quarter. 

How to set up your business the right way

Your business plan will create the blueprints. But to bring your company to life, you’ll need to consider the legal side of things. 

Register your business

To turn your business into a legal entity, register it with the UK government. You can choose to register as either a: 

  • Sole trader – You are legally and financially responsible for your business. 
  • Limited company – Your business is a separate legal entity from you, so you only risk what you put into it. 

Wondering which is best for a 3D printing business? The answer depends on how large a company you plan to start and how much you want to invest in it. 

If you have substantial startup costs, you might choose to register as a limited company to protect your personal assets. With that said, this will lead to more regulations and taxes.

Open a business current account

Opening a business account will help you manage your finances more efficiently from the start. You won’t have to sort out which expenses are personal and business-related, which can get confusing quickly.

Countingup is the perfect current account solution for your new 3D printing business. You can manage your transactions in real-time, take card payments, and sort out your bookkeeping and accounting all in one app.

Securing the right insurance 

Insurance is another thing to consider when setting up your business. The proper insurance will protect you from unexpected financial troubles. 

For example, you could insure your 3D printer since that’s the key to your profitability. Doing so will safeguard you if it’s damaged or broken. 

Depending on what products or services you offer, you may also need public liability insurance. This insurance protects you from injury, loss, or damages your business is found liable for

To learn more, check out our article on who needs public liability insurance

Essential tips to organise your business

Now that you know how to start a 3D printing business from home, it’s essential to organise it for success. 

Organising your operations

To profit from your business, you’ll need to keep up with everything you need to do. From creating your 3D printing products to shipping them to customers, you’ll be busy. 

But with the right tools, you can organise your time and stay productive. For example, you may want to use: 

  • A business management tool like Google WorkSpace or Microsoft 365 to organise your emails, documents, and calendar.
  • A project management tool like monday.com or Trello to manage and break up your projects and tasks. 
  • An inventory management system like Zoho or Sortly to keep up with how many products you have, have sold, and need to ship.

See also: How to organise your home office.

Organising your finances

When starting a 3D printing business from home, it’s also crucial to stay on top of your finances. You must keep records of the money coming in and out of your business.

Modern accounting software

Modern accounting software like Countingup can also help you organise your finances.

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

With the app, you can track your finances with: 

  • Automatic expense categorisation
  • Ongoing cash flow insights
  • Year-round tax estimates
  • Unlimited invoicing on the go

Save yourself hours of accounting admin so you can focus on growing your business. 

Start your three-month free trial today

How to market your 3D printing business to find customers

So now you know how to start a 3D printing business from home. But how will you get your products out there and find customers? You can reach the right people and earn steady sales with the right marketing strategy.  

Branding

To make your business stand out, you first need to create a public identity or brand. In other words, this is the design, tone, and values that surround your business

When considering your 3D printing brand identity, try to make it reflect the products or services you offer. For example, you might choose to focus on the sustainability of your 3D printing products. 

Then, choose a colour scheme and lean towards formal or informal language depending on your audience. You can use this information to design a logo for your business and establish a marketing strategy that supports your brand

To design marketing materials consistent with your brand, consider using a tool like Canva

Digital marketing

You can grow your business’s audience by developing a strong digital presence. But where should you start?

Website

First, create a website. Your website acts as a digital home for your business. It’s vital in this case because you run things from home, so you don’t have a physical storefront. 

This website can include:

  • Business mission and story
  • Contact information
  • Products and services with photos
  • Positive reviews and testimonials
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help interested viewers

To learn more, check out our article on how to make your own website

Social media 

Social media marketing is another great way to get your business in front of an audience. You can share what you offer and develop relationships with potential customers through regular posts and interactions. 

You may want to market your business on platforms like:

  • Twitter – Post about the 3D printing industry and interact with relevant groups
  • Facebook – Post company updates, product availability, and build reviews
  • Instagram – Post pictures of your products
  • TikTok – Upload videos of you making your products and tips on 3D printing

Advertising

Advertising can help you reach potential customers without long-term and time-consuming efforts. You can easily design digital adverts for your 3D printing business. 

Google and social media platforms are good places to advertise. They can use targeted advertising to reach people with relevant internet activity and similar interests

Unlike social media marketing, though, advertising isn’t free. To do this, you’ll need to consider how much you want to invest in growing your audience. Check out our article on what a good advertising budget is for a small business

Build your home-based 3D printing business for success

We hope this article helps you learn how to start a 3D printing business from home. Just remember, you’ll need to: 

  • Plan your business well
  • Set it up legally and logistically
  • Organise it for success
  • Market it strategically to earn customers

As you get started, it’s important to focus on building a strong foundation for your business. But, over time, you may want to focus on future growth. 

So why not check out our article on the challenges of small business growth to prepare yourself?