Earning Upto $1K/month Selling 3D Prints on Etsy (For College Students)

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Hundreds of thousands of videos and articles are teeming around the internet showing you how you could earn lots of lots of money. Some newcomers just seize on them instantly and start dreaming to be millionaires. Others count them rubbish and overlook them.

Both parties are wrong.

Earning online is a reality and, especially, earning some thousand dollars a month from selling 3D prints is what real people are doing.

What’s more, this business has recently started and still you have a chance to grow your own business before the market is occupied by giant producers, suppliers and their associates.

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Selling 3D Prints on Etsy

A Quick Tour

Many people think that 3D printing is best for small jobs like prototyping, for example. This is where they have underestimated the extent and range of 3D prints. A successful seller, introducing himself as Uncle Jesse, spoke about how he started his business.

He gave his statement on a video after he earned $18k.

He said he’d started selling 3D prints a couple of years back (and the video he uploaded was about two years from now, June, 2022). He first made a video based on a post of a ‘3D printable steering wheel attachments’ which had more than a million views.

Later on he started receiving lots of requests. He then communicated to Pixologic and got consent to sell their files. That was just the beginning. Later in the video he stated that though his continuous earnings was backed by a viral video there are, however, lots of people out there who were selling on Etsy and earning more than him.

Those who have already owned a 3D printer or are planning to buy one should know that people are doing it as a full-time job and earning $5k, $10k or more within a month (not from the very first month, though).

Why College Students?

This shouldn’t need much explanation because this is the time when students get passionate and start taking preparations to start their professional life.

And this is the crucial time when many of them are easily tricked and coaxed and lured and seduced. So this is the best time that they deserved a genuinely practical guide.

Second thing is that at this age they have courage and vigor to face challenges. Moreover, they are generally more innovative and quickly adaptive to new situations than older people.

Being Serious— Where Most Enthusiasts Fail

Here is where most people stumble. They start a job casually, leave it shortly afterward thinking ‘Oh, no! It’s not worth it’ and continue taking pleasure tours around the vast world of profession.

That’s how they lose some precious years from their lives before they realize they really should do something— something seriously.

Here are some points you might like to consider before you seriously want to do something:

  • Do research work on what you plan to do. There must be hundreds of articles and videos on exactly what you are planning to do. Take some time reading and watching them. All of them won’t provide you with practicable suggestions. But at least 1 out of 10 is going to help you.
  • Talk with persons who have already been in the business for quite a while. You can visit or arrange meetings with some business leaders. The in-depth knowledge and clear conception you’ll get from an hour with them will be thousand times more beneficial than all the articles that you’d read in years.
  • When you’ve decided on a particular profession, start foreseeing. This means you envision your position after five or ten years. This will not only provide you with strength and inspiration but also motivate you to plan for the future. Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, probably the most influential ex- president, scientist and politician of India, once said, ‘DREAM is not what you see in sleep, DREAM is something which doesn’t let you sleep.’
  • Market research is another very important point that you need to consider seriously. It is a good idea to get oriented to the place where you are going to work. You need to know which type of products are topping the sales list, how people are marketing their prints and if you’ll market your own prints independently or work as an associate.
  • Another result that you’d like to have from market research is that at the beginning you don’t compete at any saturated market— a market where some ‘giant sellers’ are already dominating.
  • You could not avoid deciding on your niche. You must start with products that you can print easily and comfortably. Don’t go for those which you find difficult to deal with even if they are more profitable.
  • Finally, there are some legal issues that are indifferent to whether you want to own a sales center or show room or you do your business at home. For example, you just cannot print a downloaded file and sell it without the consent of the creator. You reach out to them and ask for their permission. Though legal terms and conditions vary from country to country there are some generic rules that everyone follows. Here is a detailed guide of legal issues that you need to know before you start a 3D printing business.

Selecting Best Printer

There are a wide variety of 3D printers on the market. But you need to choose one that is easy to use and gives quality print.

Now, there are roughly two types of printers: Resin and FDM. Let’s talk about both of them briefly.

Resin Printers

Resin printers provide high accuracy and they are popular for isotropic and watertight prototypes and parts. The problem with resin printers is that the liquid resin is costlier than FDM filaments.

Moreover you need to purchase some additional gears to work with these printers like gloves, isopropyl alcohol and more. As a result, net cost prices of resin 3D prints are far more than the same pieces printed using a PLA+ filament.

In a word, resin printers are not suitable for the beginners and those that don’t need a high level of detail.

Toppest 3 resin 3d printers

1. Anycubic Photon M3

With a specious build volume of 163 x 102 x 180mm and XY axis resolution of .04mm this can be considered one of the best resin printers. It has got a 7.6 inch LCD with 4098 x 2560 resolution. It offers a fast layer exposure time (2sec/layer). Maybe the best feature of the Photon is that you are going to enjoy an effortless print removal.

The USB supported printer should meet all the needs of a 3D printing business.

2. Phrozen Sonic Mini 8K

Produced on MSLA technology the Phrozen Sonic Mini printer has got 165 x 72 x 180mm build volume. The 7.1 inch LCD having 7500 x 3240 resolution is quite enough for any professional. The XY Axis resolution is modestly 0.022mm. The Laser etched build plate has made the adhesion quite satisfactory.

This printer also supports USB Thumb Drive.

The most interesting feature of this printer is that it comes completely assembled. You just unbox, calibrate and start printing.

The only deterring side is its price which is nearly twice as much as its competitors.

3. Elegoo Jupiter

With a huge build volume of 277.8 x 156.3 x 300 mm  the Elegoo Jupiter produces admirable prints. The leveling is easy. The 12.8 inch LCD offers 5448 x 3064 resolution. This printer is also USB supported. 

Some other excellent resin printers are listed according to their rating at tom’s HARDWARE:

  • Elegoo Saturn
  • Elegoo Mars 3
  • Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K

Toppest 3 FDM Printers

On the other hand, FDM printers are the most popular and also suitable for versatile and general usage. Most of the 3D printing works across the world are done with FDM printers.

Among a range of FDM printers the following ones are worth mentioning:

1. Creality Ender 3 Pro

This printer is a best match for beginners who are trying to get started or professionals who are aiming at producing low-cost prints. If you ask people about their first 3d printing experience most of them are likely to tell you that it was with Ender 3 Pro.

An open source, DIY printer Ender 3 Pro is easy to assemble with a detailed printed manual and even a video guide. Any novice could easily operate it without much problem.

2. Anycubic Kobra

The second on the top 3D printer’s list at tom’sHARDWARE this excellent 3D printer has a build volume of 220 x 220 x 250 mm and quite enough for any beginner as well as established professional. It’s simple to use and the print quality is high.

As a mid range printer this could be of anyone’s choice to begin a 3D printing profession.

3. Prusa MK3S+

With a 250mm x 210mm x 210mm build platform this printer can be considered a real professional. They have introduced Magnetic Heatbed with removable PEI spring steel sheets that has reduced the post-print bothering to a great extent.

It has an automatic bed leveling sensor that makes printing experience easier. Coupled with the well-built stocky hardware the feature-rich software has made Prusa MK3S+ a perfect choice for any level of users.

Among many other fascinating features there is a manual, ‘3D PRINTING HANDBOOK’ which contains crystal clear operation and troubleshooting instruction with photographs that could guide even those who are going to print for the first time in their life. 

Next best FDM printers are:

  • Phrozen Sonic Mini 8K
  • Voxelab Aries
  • Voxelab Aquila S2
  • Creality Ender 2 Pro
  • Anycubic Vyper
  • Prusa Mini+

For more FDM printers you might like one of our articles.

Short Course on 3D Modeling

Now that you have selected a printer of your choice and necessity it’s time you prepared yourself with a prerequisite skill of 3D modeling.

This is something that most beginners avoid thinking that they can achieve it over time. A hobbyist or a professional— all must have the skill to print such quality products that they would like to buy themselves from the market.

Second thing is that 3D modeling with any software is possible but there are a number of softwares on the market— some are free and some are high-rated (meaning both quality and price), some are rich with thousands of pre-designed, customizable templates and models while others are not. You need to decide which one would satisfy your needs.

Some of the most popular 3d modeling softwares are listed below. You can easily get the details of them from the internet. 

  • Tinkercad
  • Leopoli
  • 3D Slash
  • Victory 3D
  • Creo
  • Katia
  • Autocad
  • Rhinoceros
  • Solidworks
  • Fusion 360
  • Onshape
  • Sketchup
  • Openscad
  • Sculptris
  • Freecad
  • Blender

There are more. Other than the intermediate and advanced level 3D printing techniques there are a wide range of instruction and knowledge to achieve like Architecture/Rendering, VFX, Simulations & Dynamics, Materials/Texturing, Cloth Simulation, UV unwrapping which will ensure that you print just what your market requires.

Find Your Platform— Why Etsy?

However skillful designer or powerful producer you are if you don’t have a marketplace you are nowhere. For your creative and unique 3D products Etsy is one of the best marketplaces.

There are some notable features of Etsy that makes it a successful place to be in.

  • On Etsy any seller can create a shop. No one needs any prerequisites or credentials. 
  • Etsy has three categories, namely, art & craft, handmade and vintage and it only lists unique products under those categories .
  • For vintage products to get listed they need to be at least 20 years old.
  • Etsy ships their products anywhere in the globe.
  • Sellers receive feedback that helps them improve their marketing techniques. Also Buyers can make the decision to buy.
  • There are different options for the buyers to pay from which the seller chooses one.
  • Another interesting fact is that women are more interested in working with Etsy than men. It has 67% women members.

One of the sellers at Etsy spoke exuberantly in a video:

“For me, it started out being the community which was such an awesome thing. and now, as a full-time seller, the things that I appreciate are — the analytic, the stats and, above all, the shipping.

I know that I can go, put all my information in, a label prints, I stick it on and I can ship it out and forget about it. but I know that Etsy is going to send that confirmation email and, on the other side, the buyer is going to get the tracking info.”

Final Words

The world is vigorously changing. So you should always keep watching for the changes that could affect your business. Either take advantage of the changes or quickly take steps to protect your business from any evil side of the change.

A lot of famous companies had to be shut down (like the Compaq and the KodaK) because they could not cope with the changing trends.

There are always ups and downs in your profession, especially in businesses. The more you grow the more complexities you start to face. If you are determined and hard- working there is nothing on earth that can beat you.

Good luck with your 3D Printing business!

Shamim Ahmed
Shamim Ahmed
I’ve been an innovator in this space for years and am really excited to share my knowledge with you. I’m an entrepreneur and love helping others achieve their goals by teaching them how to build a business around the newest innovations in technology.

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