3D printing has received a lot of attention over the past year or two. But while some are super excited, some seem reluctant or even clueless about it. I admit that I took a much larger interest at the beginning of this year when Adobe released an update that included some pretty decent additions to their software for working with 3D models and meshes. Since I have Photoshop and all (though I’ve yet to really mess with it).
Making 3D Printing Affordable for All
Several new startups are surfacing on crowd-funding sites. One of the newest ones gaining lots of attention is the slick, gadget-looking The Micro. Unlike most of the other 3D printers meant for widespread consumer use, there is a large focus on usability for the everyday average or even tech-challenged person. They claim their user interface is designed to be simple and fun. Also, they’ve paid a lot of attention to the reliability of this printer so your prints don’t stall out half way through the printing process like happens more often than what some printer companies would have you believe.
Making Money with 3D Printing
There’s a whole new world of niche markets that could open up to those aspiring to get in on the next biggest thing. Even if you don’t own a printer, you could still probably make money if you find the right angle to work. Think about small objects that would sell well to enthusiasts of different things and collectors. Small frog statues for people who collect everything frogs? Uniquely designed stands for dropping rings on for safekeeping? Keychains? Pendants?
Once you’ve found something that would sell well, you can create the designs yourself with software or hire someone to do it for you. Sites like Shapeways not only lets you send in your design to be printed and shipped, but you can also find designers through them as well. Or if you want to go all out, you can look for industrial design professionals to do even the design part for you.
Thinking Outside the Box
Or maybe you want to go bigger than that. Several new websites and companies are popping up with unique ideas on how to get going with 3D printing. One concept there’s a lot of buzz around is connecting individual printer owners with those who want something printed in their local area. 3DHubs does just that.
Many small businesses have an amazing opportunity here, too. Take optometrists, for example. See how ProtosEyewear.com has blazed onto the scene with custom eyeglass frames? If your local optometrist offered this option, would you be interested? Probably, right?
So what do you think? Do you think 3D printing will catch sooner than later or later than sooner?