How 3D Printing is
Creating Indie Entrepreneurs
5 small business success stories
made possible by 3D printing
How can designers make money with 3D printing?
1. Digital Content: sell 3D printable design files
2. Crowdfunding: sell product concepts using 3D printed
prototypes or first editions
3. Retail + Wholesale: sell 3D printed products
4. Licensing: sell mass production rights to 3D printed product
5. Apps: sell 3D design apps (to consumers or corporate buyers)
He has 317 files for sale ranging from $5 to $45 each.
Marketplaces for 3D Printable Design Files
Ponoko November 2010
Grain3D January 2013
3DBurrito March 2013
3DLT April 2013
Azavy April 2013
Cuboyo May 2013
LayerByLayer June 2013
That’s 6 new marketplaces this year!
All dedicated to 3D printable designs.
30 Day Experiment Complete.
Find out how much money I made!
• 3durrito.com – 0 sales
• 3dlt.com – 0 sales
• layerbylayer.com – 0 sales
• 3dprintingmodel.com – 0 sales
• ponoko.com – 6 sales at $2.99
• TOTAL = $17.94
“Posting random items on a bunch of marketplace sites is not going to lead to sales.
You need really good unique models and then you have to market them yourself.” - JD
Experiment conducted by curious individual on Reddit. Here’s what he wrote:
“Digital fabrication has helped us a great deal in iterating our
designs based on user feedback.” – Benjamin Black, Hex team
…with 3D printed shells to customize the look.
3D Printing Kickstarter Projects
hardware, prototypes + products
• 83 projects
• 37 successful
• 38 unsuccessful
• 8 to be decided
• $7million+ raised
Most of that money was
for desktop 3D printers.
Her customers aren’t getting stuff
straight off the printer. She hand
dyes all of her products.
“This technology allows us to create items on demand in more complex forms
than older manufacturing techniques.” - Colleen Jordan
3D Printing Services
1. Lots more people using 3DP services.
2. Lots more 3DP services on the scene.
3. Consumers purchasing designers products
is what’s fueling the growth — not hobbyists;
they’re buying desktop printers.
3D printed verions of this espresso cup likely
sold in the hundreds. After a licensing deal,
mass produced versions are probably selling
in the thousands.
rocket espresso cup
• created July 2012
• licensed April 2013
• retailing July 2013
designed by Craig Kaplan
“I can’t manufacture a viral success
— I can only be swept up into it. I
designed something that I would like,
and was surprised and overjoyed to
find that others liked it too.”
- Craig Kaplan
We’re gonna hear more stories like this.
Built by Sarah Stocker and Matt Danks. Quit their jobs in the gaming industry, boot-
strapped this app. It was awesome. Absolutely anyone could create a 3D printed robot.
Launched in November 2011. Acquired by 3D Systems in April 2012.
3D Printing Apps
Society for Printable Geography
Mwoo.me Adele R. Designs
Cubify Draw 3D Systems
Let’s Create Pottery Infinite Dreams
Challenges + Opportunities
So far, this presentation has been about business opportunties for designers.
Now lets talk business opportunities to *support* the designer’s business.
• Most people can’t design for 3D printing.
• Designers are increasingly concerned
about copyright violations.
• Marketplaces are not curated.
• Products aren’t tested and may not meet
consumer product safety regulations.
• Designers are responsible for business success.
“Aside from signing the contract and sending over
a prototype cup, I wasn’t involved in the rest of the
magic — Fred handled product development and
packaging design, and now marketing, distribution,
and all the other details of the retail world.”
- Craig Kaplan
How can companies help designers have
successful small businesses?
Let designers design. And someone else do:
production + Q.A.
assembly + finishing
packaging + fulfillment
shipping + distribution
wholesale + retail
marketing + advertising
This is what we asked ourselves at Ponoko.
We’ve got production down, now we’re figuring out all that other grey stuff.