Not long ago, there was incredible hype surrounding 3D printing. The thought process was that a 3D printer would be found in every house, allowing people to create everything from furniture to wax jewelry castings whenever desired.
While 3D printing boasts a sizeable and dedicated community, it’s fair to say it didn’t become a mainstream success. The lack of accessibility and content infrastructure are two points that have hurt it in that regard.
However, the absence of prevalence has made 3D printing a lucrative path for entrepreneurs, giving them the chance to begin their own manufacturing company from home. If this is the path you want to take, here are five points to remember when starting this type of business.
1. Decide on a niche
First things first, you have to decide on a niche for your planned business. Trying to target a broad market is never going to work. When going with a niche, think about one where it makes sense to use 3D printing. Ultimately, you have to provide value to the sector with your creations.
As for which niche to choose, proven picks include:
- House decorations
- Miniature figures
- Smartphone cases
2. Get the right equipment
Of course, you need a 3D printer. That’s obvious. If you currently only possess a cheap and cheerful model, consider investing in a printer that is known for its quality and long-term reliability.
However, that’s only the start. You’ll also need the right materials to produce your prints. This is done by finding the right filament, which is a combination of metal composites – think stainless steel and bronze – and polymers, the latter of which is provided by specialists like Polymer Chemistry at polychemistry.com.
Aside from manufacturing, it’s important to also invest in suitable storage equipment, a sturdy work surface, mailing materials, and so on.
3. Work on your products
It’s not as simple as creating a few products and sticking them up for sale immediately. A period of fine-tuning is necessary. While there’s more leeway with 3D printed products compared to traditional manufacturing, you still want to sell high-quality items. There’s no better selling point than quality.
4. Create an online store
Is the plan to start out small? In that case, you can begin by utilizing an online marketplace like Etsy or eBay. These provide instant visibility for your products, but the sacrifices for this include reduced profit margins and a lack of upselling/marketing opportunities
Creating your own website should be a priority. This helps to reach, gain, and retain customers, improve profits per sale, and give you full creative freedom. Just keep in mind that building momentum with your site via SEO requires patience and a long-term strategy.
5. Locate your customers
Along with a website, there are various other marketing tactics to implement so you can reach your audience. Using social media is an obvious starting point as it generally costs nothing (other than your time). Pay-per-click ads can bring instant traffic to your new website while blogging should be part of your strategy from the start.
If you have the budget for it, consider hiring a marketing agency. It means you can focus on other areas of your fledgling business, and you also gain instant marketing expertise.