3D printing is based on the idea that a 3D object is basically lots of 2D ‘slices’ stuck together. So if you print lots of 2D slices and ‘glue’ them together you can print a 3D object.

3D printing has been around a while now, but the equipment to do it has been very expensive. Just recently, however, it has become a lot cheaper. So you can buy a 3D printer for not much more than a 2D laser printer and print many objects in 3D for a reasonable unit cost.

So what about practical ways you could make some money from this amazing technology?

You might like to think about setting up your own 3D instant print shop. There are already a few, but they’re still very rare, so it could be something of a virgin market just waiting to be exploited.

Here’s a list of a few items which can be 3D printed to give you some ideas: Jewellery. Arts and crafts. Sculpture. Ornaments. Novelties. Watch straps. Key rings. Souvenirs. Smartphone cases/skins and cradles. Toys, such as building blocks. Puzzles. Dolls. Games, such as chess sets. Model aircraft and cars. Kitchen gadgets and accessories. Christmas tree decorations. Car badges and emblems. Cups and glasses. Trophies.

You can also make more technical items with 3D printing. Such as parts and components for classic vehicles that aren’t made anymore. Or even spare parts for domestic appliances and machinery in many cases cheaper than the original manufacturer can sell them for.

You can also 3D print parts and components for business customers. With 3D printing you can produce models, mock ups, prototypes and specialist components to name just a few items. There could be loads of business from local companies, especially those in the design, construction and manufacturing sectors who need 3D printed items.

The even more interesting news is that you don’t have to actually buy a 3D printer to do this. Because there are now a small but growing number of 3D printing on demand services (POD) out there who can print items to your own design. Just email them your design and they’ll print your item send it to you, or ship it direct to your customer.

If you’d like more information on opportunities in 3D printing let me know. I could bring you more information, sources and contacts over the coming weeks.