Start a 3D Printing Business

3D printing businesses are involved in 3D printing and rapid prototyping, and this is the automatic construction of physical objects using additive manufacturing technology. Techniques include melting or softening material to produce layers, laying liquid material thermosets that are cured, cutting thin layers to shape, and joining them together.

Basically, three-dimensional printing is a process that involves taking a raw material and melting it into microscopic layers until it creates a 3D object. Statistics have it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 450 licensed and registered three-dimensional (3D) printing companies, and the industry is responsible for directly employing about 6,161 employees.

The worldwide market for 3D printing was valued at 12.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2022. The industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17 percent between 2022 and 2023.

Steps on How to Start a 3D Printing Business

  1. Conduct Market Research

The first step in the market research process for your 3D Printing business is to develop market-based research questions in line with your overall business goals and objective. In this regard, you should source information that will help you maximize your business, provide you reliable clues on what your potential market will be looking for from a 3D Printing company, and also help you operate your 3D Printing company with less stress.

a. Who is the Target Market for 3D Printing Business?
  • Schools and players in the education and learning industry
  • Prototyping and manufacturing companies
  • Medical centers and hospitals
  • Construction companies
  • Art and Jewelry makers
  • Interior décor
  • Architects and designers
  • Aerospace companies
  • Automotive companies
  • Hobbyists and DIYers
  • Cultural heritage and museums
  • Firearm industry
  • Transportation industry
  • Fashion industry
  • Food industry
b. Is 3D Printing business a Profitable Business?

Yes, the 3D Printing business is profitable, and statistics show that the industry generates an average of $12.5 billion annually. As a matter of fact, analysts have predicted that the 3D printing industry will be worth 32.7 billion USD by 2023.

c. Are There Existing Niches in the Industry?

No, there are no existing niches when it comes to 3D printing because 3D printing is a niche in the printing industry.

d. Who are the Major Competitors?
  • Proto Labs Inc.
  • Materialise NV
  • Shapeways Inc.
  • 3D Systems
  • Nano Dimension
  • Stratasys Ltd.
  • ExOne
  • Voxeljet
  • Organovo
  • Relativity Space
  • CELLINK
  • Makerbot
  • nTopology
  • Desktop Metal
  • Xometry
  • Glowforge.
e. Are There County or State Regulations or Zoning Laws for 3D Printing Business?

Yes, there are county or state regulations and zoning laws for 3D Printing companies. These laws are strictly enforced because studies have found that little bits of plastic and some volatile organic compounds end up in the air when printing, and breathing these in isn’t a good idea. As a matter of fact, asthma and other breathing problems can be aggravated in this way, and some of the emissions are known to be bad for everyone.

f. Is There a Franchise for 3D Printing Business?

Yes, there are franchise opportunities for the 3D Printing business, and here are some of them;

  • Twindom 3D Photography
  • 3D Memories
  • Minuteman Press
  • PostNet International
  • WOL 3D
g. What Do You Need to Start a 3D Printing Business?
  • A Feasibility Report
  • Business and Marketing Plans
  • Business Licenses and Permits
  • A Good Operational facility
  • Computers, Laptops, and Servers
  • EIN (Employer Identification Number)/Federal Tax ID Number.
  • A Corporate Bank Account
  • 3D Printing Equipment and Tools
  • Employees
  • Startup Capital
  1. Choose a Memorable Business Name

When looking to start a business, before you can begin to file the necessary documents with the constituted authorities or start your website, it is necessary that you come up with a name that you will be recognized with. It is essential that the name you come up with can easily be pronounced, is unique and easily memorable.

Some of the catchy business name ideas suitable for a 3D printing business are;

Catchy 3D Printing Business Name ideas
  • Perfect Edges© 3D Printing Company, Inc.
  • Top Cut® 3D Printing Company, LLC
  • Cap End© 3D Printing Company, Inc.
  • Printing Solutions® 3D Printing Company, Inc.
  • Print Expats™ 3D Printing Company, Inc.
  • Goodman™ 3D Printing Company, LLC.
  • Daily Morgan© 3D Printing Company, LLC
  • Tony Williams® 3D Printing Company, Inc.
  • Print Pros© 3D Printing Company, Inc.
  • Print Zone© 3D Printing Company, Inc.
  • Print Pro® 3D Printing Company, Inc.
  • White Lane® 3D Printing Company, LLC
  • Wendy Thomas® 3D Printing Company, Inc.
  • International Print Corporation, Inc.
  • King George® 3D Printing Company USA LLC.
  • Shannon Stev® 3D Printing Company, Inc.
  • Denver Porto® 3D Printing Company USA LLC
  • Print and More® 3D Printing Company, LLC
  • Future Network® 3D Printing Company USA LLC
  • South River® 3D Printing Company USA LLC.
  1. Register Your Business

a. What Type of Business Structure is Best for 3D Printing Business?

Even though there are several options when it comes to the business structure of a 3D printing business, the one most players in this line of business consider is an LLC. It is common to consider LLC because providers want to protect themselves from lawsuits.

Please note that an LLC will need an EIN if it has employees or if it will be required to file any of the excise tax forms listed below.

b. Steps to Form an LLC
  • Choose a Name for Your LLC.
  • File Articles of Organization.
  • Choose a registered agent.
  • Decide on member vs. manager management.
  • Create an LLC operating agreement.
  • Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • File annual reports.
c. What Type of License is Needed to Open a 3D Printing Business?
  • General Business License
  • Health and Safety Permit
  • Zonal Permits (Applicable in some cities)
  • Signage Permit
  • Operational State Facility Inspections
d. What Type of Certification is Needed to Open a 3D Printing Business?
  • Additive Manufacturing (AM) Certification
  • 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing Specialization.
e. What Documents are Needed to Open a 3D Printing Business?
  • DBA
  • EIN
  • Business and liability insurance
  • Federal Tax Payer’s ID
  • State Permit and Building Approval
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Online Terms of Use
  • Online Privacy Policy Document
  • Contract Document
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
f. Do You Need a Trademark, Copyright, or Patent?

If you are considering starting a 3D Printing business, usually you will need to file for intellectual property protection or trademark. This is because 3D printing companies manufacture or customize a variety of products that may be unique to them.

  1. Cost Analysis and Budgeting

a. How Much Does It Cost to Start a 3D Printing Business?

When it comes to starting a 3D printing business, the startup costs could range from $25,000 to over $250,000 depending on how much equipment the business owner decides to purchase and the size of the facility leased. Please note that this amount includes the salaries of all staff for the first month of operation.

b. What are the Cost Involved in Starting a 3D Printing Business
  • The total fee for registering the business in the United States of America – $750.
  • Legal expenses for obtaining licenses and permits as well as the accounting services (software, P.O.S machines, and other software) – $3,300.
  • Marketing expenses for the grand opening of the 3D Printing company, in the amount of $3,500, and as well as flyer printing (2,000 flyers at $0.04 per copy) for the total amount of $3,580.
  • The cost for hiring a business consultant – $2,500.
  • Insurance (general liability, workers’ compensation, and property-casualty) coverage at a total premium – $2,400.
  • The cost for payment of rent for 12 months at $1.76 per square foot in the total amount of $75,600.
  • The cost for facility remodeling (construction of racks and shelves) – $10,000.
  • Other start-up expenses including stationery ($500), phone and utility deposits ($2,500).
  • Operational cost for the first 3 months (salaries of employees, payments of bills et al) – $30,000
  • The cost for start-up inventory (3D printing materials) – $50,000
  • The cost for store equipment (cash register, security, ventilation, signage) – $13,750
  • Equipping the office (computers, 3D printing machines and equipment, servers and internet facility, furniture, telephones, filing cabinets, and electronics) – $40,000
  • The cost of launching a website: $600
  • Miscellaneous: $5,000
c. What Factors Determine the Cost of Opening a 3D Printing Business?
  • The size of the 3D Printing business
  • The choice of location
  • The required licenses and permits
  • The type of facility
  • The additional services offerings
  • The cost of hiring and paying a business consultant and attorney
  • The cost for branding, promotion, and marketing of the 3D printing company
  • The cost for furnishing and equipping the 3D printing facility
  • The cost for insurance policy covers
  • The cost for registering the business
  • Source of your supplies and ongoing expenses
  • Cost of recruiting and training your staff
  • The cost for the purchase and customizing of uniforms
d. Do You Need to Build a Facility? If YES, How Much Will It Cost?

Actually, it is not compulsory to build a new facility for your 3D Printing company, but if you have the required finance, it will pay you to build your facility. The truth is that building or reconstructing a facility will give you the opportunity to come up with a facility that will perfectly fit into your business goals and vision.

e. What are the Ongoing Expenses of a 3D Printing Business?
  • Raw materials such as plastic, metal, graphite, nylon, ABS, resin, PLA (Polylactic Acid), gold and silver, stainless steel, titanium, and carbon fiber et al.
  • Utility bills (internet subscriptions, phone bills, signage and software renewal fees et al)
  • Machine and equipment maintenance
  • Salaries of employees
f. What is the Average Salary of your Staff?
  • Chief Executive Officer (President) – $65,000 Per Year
  • Project Manager – $45,000 Per Year
  • 3D Printing Engineer – $44,600 Per Year
  • Model Maker – 3D Printing – $36,100 Per Year
  • Sales and Marketing Executive – $30,000 Per Year
  • Accountant – $32,000 Per Year
  • Screen Printing Operator – $30,800 Per Year
  • Client Service Executive (Help Desk Office) -$28,000 Per Year
g. How Do You Get Funding to Start a 3D Printing Business
  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for a loan from your bank/banks
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
  1. Write a Business Plan

a. Executive Summary

Our 3D Printing company is a standard, licensed, and certified 3D Printing company that will be located in the heart of Westchester County, New York – United States of America.

We are in the 3D printing business to deliver excellent services to those who will patronize our services. We will also ensure that when carrying out our duty, we will comply with the laws and health regulations in New York and The United States of America. Our employees are well trained and qualified to handle the wide range of 3D printing machines and equipment.

b. Products and Service
  • 3D printing
  • Rapid prototyping
  • 3D printing support services
  • Selective laser sintering (SLS)
  • Fused deposition modeling (FDM)
  • Stereolithography (SLA)
  • The sale of 3D printers and supplies.
  • Screen printing consulting and advisory services
  • Other related printing services
c. Mission Statement

Our mission is to establish a world-class 3D printing company that will be involved in the production of products and parts with the aim of helping our clients’ reduce costs, waste, time, get a competitive advantage, reduce errors, and increase confidentiality.

Vision Statement

Our vision is to become one of the leading brands in the 3D printing industry in New York and other key cities in the United States of America.

d. Goals and Objectives

The goals and objectives of the 3D Printing business are to produce complex shapes using less material than traditional manufacturing methods.

e. Organizational Structure
  • Chief Executive Officer (President)
  • Project Manager
  • 3D Printing Engineer
  • Model Maker
  • Sales and Marketing Executive
  • Accountant
  • Screen Printing Operator
  • Client Service Executive (Help Desk Office)

Marketing Plan

a. SWOT Analysis
Strength:

The strength of the 3D Printing business is that we have well-experienced and certified 3D engineers and technicians under our payroll and our chief executive officer is one of them. So also, we operate in a location where we can easily collaborate with other key stakeholders in the printing industry.

Weakness:

As a new 3D Printing business, it might take some time for our organization to break into the market and gain acceptance especially from top profile clients in the highly competitive 3D printing industry; that is perhaps our major weakness. Another weakness is that we don’t have the financial capacity to compete with multi-million dollar 3D Printing companies when it comes to working for high-paying clients.

Opportunities:

The opportunities for 3D printing are on the rise because the demand for 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping Services is forecast to continue growing over the five years to 2026. New 3D printing applications for the consumer, medical, and manufacturing markets will continue to emerge, opening the industry to previously untapped markets.

Threat:

A major threat confronting 3D printing is the fact that studies have found that little bits of plastic and some volatile organic compounds end up in the air when printing, and breathing these in isn’t a good idea. Asthma and other breathing problems can be aggravated, and some of the emissions are known to be bad for everyone. Another threat that may likely confront us is the arrival of a new 3D printing company in the same location where ours is located. So also, unfavorable government policies may also pose a threat to our business.

b. How Do 3D Printing Companies Make Money?

3D Printing companies make money by offering the following products;

  • 3D printing
  • Rapid prototyping
  • 3D printing support services
  • Selective laser sintering (SLS)
  • Fused deposition modeling (FDM)
  • Stereolithography (SLA)
  • The sale of 3D printers and supplies.
  • Screen printing consulting and advisory services
  • Other related printing services
c. Payment Options
  • Payment via bank transfer
  • Payment with cash
  • Payment via credit cards
  • Payment via online bank transfer
  • Payment via check
  • Payment via mobile money transfer
  • Payment via bank draft
d. Sales & Advertising Strategies
  • Introduce your 3D Printing business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to various industries and key stakeholders
  • Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across
  • Creating a basic website for your business so as to give your business an online presence
  • Directly market your services.
  • Advertise your business in community-based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Encourage the use of word-of-mouth marketing (referrals)

Financial Projection

a. How Much Should You Charge for your Product/Service?

The amount to charge for your 3D Printing company products and services should depend on factors such size and technicality of the product to be printed. But on average, a 3d printing service can cost as little as $5 to several thousand dollars.

b. How Much Profit Do 3D Printing Business Owners Make a Year?

It depends, but available report shows that the national average salary for 3D Printing is $65,582 in the United States.

c. What Factors Determine the Amount of Profit to Be Made?
  • The capacity of the 3D printing business
  • The types of service and product offerings
  • The location the 3D printing business is covering
  • The management style of the 3D printing business
  • The business approach of the 3D printing business
  • The advertising and marketing strategies adopted by the 3D printing business.
  • The number of years the 3D printing company is in business
d. What is the Profit Margin of a 3D Printing Business?

The profit margin of a 3D printing business could range from 15 to 45 percent depending on the nature of the design, materials, and time involved in the printing.

e. What is the Sales Forecast?

First Fiscal Year (FY1) – $250,000

Second Fiscal Year (FY2) – $400,000

Third Fiscal Year (FY3) – $750,000

  1. Set Up your Shop 

a. How Do You Choose a Perfect Location for 3D Printing Business?
  • The demography of the location especially as it relates to businesses that make use of 3D printing services
  • The demand for services and products offered by 3D Printing companies in the location
  • The purchasing power of businesses and residents of the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The number of 3D printing companies in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community/state
  • Traffic, parking and security et al
b. What State and City are Best to Open a 3D Printing Business?
  • Brattleboro, Vermont
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Silver Spring, Maryland
  • Rowland Heights, California
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Green Bay, Wisconsin
  • Plano, Texas
c. What Equipment is Needed to Operate a 3D Printing Business?

A 3D printer, digital caliper, plastic filament reels, extra print beds, 3D print removal tool, pliers, tweezers, nozzle set, nozzle cleaning kit, carving tools, 3D scanner, and design software. You will also need computers and laptops, servers, storage, and internet facility, telephone, fax machine, and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others, and all these can be gotten fairly used.

  1. Hire Employees

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard 3D Printing business, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer (President), Project Manager, 3D Printing Engineer, Model Maker, Sales, and Marketing Executive, Accountant, Screen Printing Operator, and Client Service Executive (Help Desk Office).

  1. Launch the Business Proper

You can open your 3D printing business with a party to officially launch the business. You can choose to do a soft opening if you are operating on a low budget or you can go for a grand opening party.

The bottom line is that with proper launching of the 3D printing business, you will be able to officially inform people in your city that your 3D printing is open for business.

a. What Makes a 3D Printing Business Successful?
  • Choose a good location to launch the business
  • Come up with unique concepts that will help you save time and materials
  • Partner with government
  • Hire only competent, hardworking, and trustworthy staff
  • Be deliberate with your marketing sales approach
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth to promote your 3D printing business
  • Leverage on all available online and offline platforms to promote your 3D printing company
b. What Happens During a Typical Day at a 3D Printing Business?
  • The office is open for the day’s work
  • To-do list is reviewed
  • Employees go straight to their job description (carrying out 3D printings for clients)
  • Deliveries of finished jobs are made
  • Reports are written and submitted to superior officers
  • The business is closed for the day.
c. What Skills and Experience Do You Need to Build a 3D Printing Business?
  • Excellent CAD skills
  • Excellent computer and technical skills
  • Good managerial and human development skills
  • Visionary Leadership
  • Team-building & Interpersonal Skills.
  • Excellent communication and negotiation skills.
  • Organizational skills.
  • Manual dexterity
  • A strong understanding of material technology
  • Attention to detail and the ability to concentrate for long periods
  • Design skills and knowledge in order to copy shapes
  • Good Supervisory skills
  • Familiarity with all aspects of 3D printing technology
  • Experience in crown and bridge metalwork
  • Experience in managing people
  • Experience in business administration
  • Experience in handling software and hardware.