To make money selling 3D Prints can be challenging because of the speed capacity of the printers these days. It can’t keep up on the demand for certain products. So, is 3D Printing too slow? Tom and Tracy Hazzard answer this question and share why. Not to be discouraged, however, because even with this, there are still ways that you can monetize efficiently. Read how Tom and Tracy decide whether to sell their design as a downloadable or as a print.
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Is 3D Printing Too Slow?
This is the Ask Us Anything segment. The question, is 3D printing too slow for me to make money selling 3D print design?
Let’s start with our example of when we first started 3D printing. We did a full analysis of everything. In our minds, we always amortize tooling when we make an injection-molded product. We thought about, “Let’s amortize the cost of the printer over X number of prints.”
Also, X number of years think about how many hours we might use it per week or month.
We started to think about that and we said, “What’s reasonable and what’s realistic?” You look at the cost of materials and the cost of power.
Originally, we thought the custom material was going to be a big factor and it has ended up being an insignificant factor.
The power was too in a sense. It’s on all the time here and we don’t see a significant increase. We have solar, so that’s a benefit.
We haven’t noticed an electricity bill go up enough to worry about it.
Some of those things are negligible. The question is how much do you want to charge per hour for your machine printing? Is it taking away time from a client you could do a prototype for or something like that? Maybe your printer hourly rate is worth more. You have to think about it like that. The reality is, I think you ought to look out there and say, “Am I comparing this 3D product that I’m selling to other 3D printed products? Am I comparing it to something that is injection molded and bought over in Asia or wherever it’s manufactured and sold on Amazon or Walmart or wherever it is?”
The ROI analysis is important because if you’re going to count those hours, it’s going to play a big role. Some things take quite a while to print, but let’s say you have this printer and it’s in a home office. You can set a print off before you go to sleep at night and you let it run all night. Does it matter to you that it’s running all night? It’s not taking up time. You weren’t going to use it anyway. If that’s not a big deal for you, you’ve got a six-hour print. Maybe the hourly calculation isn’t that important to you.
That assumes that you are only going to print one at a time. You can’t do a lot of volumes there. The question was about making money. I think some businesses are out there doing it. Clearly, the Invisalign is out there making money and they’ve got a farm of 3D printers. That is a 3D printer after a 3D printer. I forgot the number.
It was a staggering number. It was 60,000 prints that they do. It was either a day or a week.
Their prints also take 60, 90 minutes. Their design is dialed into print quickly as well.
It’s a relatively small object when they do it. That helps.
It goes back to what it is you’re going to sell against and whether or not you care about the actual hour that the printer is running.
If you’re asking this question before you’ve bought a 3D printer, it’s a good question to ask. I guess I would suggest trying to predict what types of items you’re going to print and then probably test it out. Go to a service bureau or go to a makerspace.
Shapeways or something like that. Upload the file and check how much they charge for it.
Not only how much they charge for it, but that’s why I suggest the makerspace because you can get a firsthand experience as to how long it takes to print on some different printers. Different local businesses have different kinds of printers and you can try them out.
If you’re just loading up a design and when it says, “It’s going to cost $100 to print it,” and the item is tiny that you can’t imagine charging $100 for it, that tells you something right there. I think there is money selling 3D prints. I also do think there’s money in design downloads. There will be, but sometimes some designs are meant to be one or the other.
It does depend. There are going to be some cases where it would work very well and you’d make a lot of money. In other cases, where this is not a good fit.
You’ve got to evaluate your what. That’s why it’s What the FFF.
Remember, if you’ve got a question for us, please go to our website HazzDesign.com. On every page, there’s a button where you can send us a voicemail message, record it right there. You can send us an email or find us anywhere on social media @HazzDesign. We’ve got a Kickstarter campaign running where you can help share the cost of bringing six new custom colors of PLA filament to reality. You can go to that page at HazzDesign.com/getcolor or you can go to Kickstarter. Look up 3D Printing Filament and it will pop right up. Thanks for reading. Until next time.
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