3D Printing Business – Pros and Cons

If you are considering starting a business, a 3D printing business may be on your list of ideas. It’s a booming industry, projected to grow by more than 4 times by 2026. But before you jump into that market, you should do your homework and learn about starting the business, and you should also know the pros and cons of a 3D printing business.

What Is 3D Printing Used For?

3D printing has a growing list of uses. Startup businesses often use 3D printing to produce an initial prototype of their product which they use to present to investors. 3D printing can also be used to make toys and a variety of home décor items. 

New types of 3D printing materials are emerging, including polymers and metals, contributing to the advance of the industry. New products that can be 3D printed include tool components, and even finished auto parts.

For a small 3D printing business, your customers will typically be those seeking prototypes, toys, or home décor items. 

Pros of a 3D Printing Business

Large and Growing Market

The global 3D printing market was worth nearly $14 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $63 billion by 2026, an impressive growth of more than 450%. That’s a crazy number!  It’s growing because technology in 3D printing is rapidly advancing, creating more and more applications. This makes a 3D printing business a huge opportunity – you’re getting in on the industry right as it’s about to explode!


3D printing is a business that you can start and run from home. You can sell your services online, market your business online, and ship the final prints to your customers. This also means that your business will have a global clientele – you can fulfill orders for customers no matter where they are.  Running your business from home means no rent or overhead expenses, so you’ll have a higher profit margin.

Good Money

Prices for 3D prints vary greatly depending on the complexity but can range from $30 to $1,000 or more. If you specialize in prototypes, designs are likely to be complex, so you would be at the higher end of that range. Say you only have 5 customers a week and each spends $500. That adds up to $130,000 in revenue a year! And your profit margin after materials should be around 80%, so over $100,000 stays in your pocket. Not bad for a home-based business!

Cons of a 3D Printing Business

High Startup Costs

The cost of starting a 3D printing business can be $10,000 to $15,000. The printer alone will run at least $3,000, and to start a business, you probably need a higher-end model, which can cost up to $7,000. You also need to set up your own website and get some design software and the materials that you’ll use for printing.  Clearly, though, if you make that upfront investment, you’ll have the potential for high returns. 

Evolving Technology

While the advancement of 3D printing technology opens up more opportunities, it also means that your 3D printer can quickly become outdated. You may periodically have to replace your equipment and update your software. Those costs can add up, so you’ll need to plan for that and have cash set aside. It’s important to have the most up-to-date technology so that you can keep up with the competition.

Intense Competition

When a market is booming, it also means that new businesses are starting, making the market very competitive. You’ll have to find a way to make your business standout and spend some marketing dollars to get noticed. A good way to start would be to approach your local startup business incubator to try to market your services to entrepreneurs who may need prototypes. But you’ll also need to get noticed online, so you can do paid ads on social media and pay-per-click advertising on Google. Not matter what you do, however, it may take some time for you to build up a customer base and start making money.

In Closing

As with every business, a 3D printing business has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s the right path for you. It does offer a huge opportunity in a booming market, and you just need to determine if you’re willing to make the investment and try to overcome the competition. Just think it through, and if you decide to go for it, start with a good business plan.