How to start a Business with 3D Printers

During the COVID crisis, many people put their 3D printers to work to print personal protective equipment for the healthcare personnel, proving the ability to quickly create a new design and bring a product to market.

As traditional manufacturing is now taking over to full-fill those needs, many people that volunteered to print PPEs are now wondering what other things they could do with their 3D printers. The good news, is that there are lots of business opportunities.

How to make money with 3D Printers

We were sold on the hype that 3D printers would be in everyone’s home. The reality is that for the average householder, it’s still way too hard to print stuff, let alone useful items. The technology, the materials, the ease-of-use and the content infrastructure around these machines are not there yet.

Desktop 3D printers came down in price dramatically and China flooded the market with cheap 3D printers, allowing almost everyone to gain access to this technology. Meanwhile, the media has turned its attention to industrial technologies after seeing that the people buying low-cost 3D printers are hobbyists that use these machines to make gadgets and figurines that mostly end up in their home shelves if not in the trash.

But the media is overlooking one thing. Many of these hobbyists that have been experimenting with 3D printing technology are also entrepreneurs. Many of them are turning their hobbies into businesses.

Thanks to having over 100.000 3D printer owners in the AstroPrint platform, we are witnessing this emerging trend from a privileged position. We’ve seen how some AstroPrint users went from tinkering with one printer to now run a business with a farm of 30+ printers.

Low-cost 3D printers are allowing people to start their own manufacturing business from home and the digital infrastructure is there for them to find customers. In this post, we’ll give some examples of people that grew into a 3D printing business and the key practices that made them successful.

Ready start your own home-built manufacturing facility with a bunch of low-cost 3D printers?

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How makers are using Clusters to 3D print PPEs worldwide

We asked some groups in our community how they are using AstroPrint Clusters to coordinate efforts to print PPEs for hospitals and other groups in need. Here is what they had to say:

Printing PPEs in Cincinnati

Patrick Bennett and Richard Eichhorn are coordinating efforts in the Cincinnati Metro Area including Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. They signed up in the AstroPrint Clusters app to become regional coordinators for the Cincinnati area.

We talked to Patrick to find out more:

How many people have joined your cluster and how many parts have been printed?

“We currently have 14 users in our cluster and have printed just over 200 prints which have been distributed to hospitals and local municipal Fire Departments, as well as individuals who need them for their essential businesses/organizations.”

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AstroPrint’s Clusters App, Community 3D Printing Platform to Fight Covid-19

As the COVID-19 outbreak worsens across the world, the urgent need for medical gear is being partially fulfilled by the additive manufacturing industry. Additive is being used for everything from face shields, medical masks, and respirator valves, to much-needed ventilator parts for critically ill patients. With this kind of critical medical gear in short supply, 3D printing offers a fast way to fill in some of the gaps.

In order to provide our help in these efforts, we are creating a new online tool named: AstroPrint 3D Printing Clusters. This will allow Regional Coordinators to manage ‘clusters’ of local manufacturers (i.e. Printer Owners), and to deliver critical 3D Printed parts to the Medical Facilities that need them.

This will help Coordinators follow local production in real-time, regardless of the manufacturing technology utilized. Since this application is more about logistics, and less about 3D Printer communications, it can be used to track production on any manufacturing technology (FDM, SLA, CNC, DMLS, etc).

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AstroPrint announces free service for Hospitals and Universities during the COVID-19 crisis

Dear AstroPrinters and 3D Printing community,

Now more than ever we are dedicated to providing you with the best service possible. We decided last week to temporarily close our offices for the safety of our employees during the C19 crisis. However, you should know that we are staying 100% operational. We are lucky enough to be able to fully operate via remote working and we are still 100% dedicated to offering you the same quality of service we always do.

  • Our team is still available for support
  • Our service is still operating at full capacity
  • We are still focused on helping you get the most out of your 3D Printers
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AstroPrint’s 2019 3D Printing Reliability Awards

AstroPrint is announcing today the awards for best-in-class 3D Printers, based on usage from our awesome community. This past year the AstroPrint servers have been VERY busy, thanks in-part to the more than 100 new, highly passionate, 3D Printer users that joined each day!

With nearly 1 Million prints & 80 tons of filament printed in 2019, we are proud to announce the awards go to…

Best 3D Printer
Best 3D Printers 2019
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Maintenance scheduled to push new features

PLANNED DOWNTIME / SERVICE INTERRUPTION – MONDAY JAN 13TH

HEADS UP! We have maintenance in the AstroPrint Cloud scheduled for Monday Jan 13th starting on 1am (PST), 4am (EST), 10am (CET). The maintenance window will be around 1 hour. Your AstroPrint service will be disrupted during this period with several moments of complete service shutdown.

Want live updates?

We will update live during that time via our Twitter account.
@AstroPrint3D

What is going to be done?

We’re pushing major upgrades to the AstroPrint service infrastructure, as well as updating the software with security and performance patches. Most of this will not affect how you use AstroPrint in the future, these are ‘behind the scenes’ updates.

What you will notice after the update: We will be introducing new features such as a new File Manager and Fleet Management Plans.

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Press Release: Universities and K-12 Schools to Start Beta Testing AstroPrint’s 3D Printing Platform for Education

AstroPrint Press Release – For Immediate Release – October 16, 2019

Hartford, Connecticut – (October 16, 2019)  AstroPrint is launching a bespoke version of it’s popular 3D Printer Management Platform for Universities, K-12 schools and other education institutions, aimed at making 3D printing more accessible to students, increasing the efficiency of school fleets, and reducing related costs in staffing and resources.

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Cults now integrates AstroPrint for seamless 3D printing experience

Astroprint <3 Cults

AstroPrint is proud to announce a new partnership with Cult! You are from today able to export & print design straight from Cult into AstroPrint.

Created in 2014, Cults is the 1st independent 3D files marketplace platform is a fast growing platform. It was one of the first in the Printing industry and has a long history of providing top-notch design.

AstroPrint is pleased to provide this new option with the very popular Cults Marketplace. Both companies have worked together to offer a seamless experience from the 3D Design Marketplace to the actual object.

“We are excited about this new strategic partnership. Pairing the right software with the best designs in additive manufacturing industry, and we look forward to keep working with Cults in the future”

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How to Set Up a 3D Printer Farm to Sell Drone Parts

I think it’s just about identifying a gap in the market and coming up with a design or product that could potentially fill that gap. 3D printing allows you to create products that don’t currently exist in the market

Neil Watts

Neil Watts is a 3D printing enthusiast who has turned his hobby into a business. His online store, Aero3D, sells custom accessories for drones to customers worldwide. Neil doesn’t have a background in design, but he’s taught himself to design parts with basic cad software.

In this interview, Neil tells us about:

  • How he found an opportunity in custom drone parts and how other 3D printing enthusiasts can find market niches.
  • How he finds clients without spending a penny on marketing.
  • How he manages to run 13 printers simultaneously while still keeping his corporate job.
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