Starting a 3D printing business can be very profitable. With proper planning, execution and hard work, you can enjoy great success. Below you will learn the keys to launching a successful 3D printing business.
Importantly, a critical step in starting a 3D printing business is to complete your business plan. To help you out, you should download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template here.
14 Steps To Start a 3D Printing Business:
- Choose the Name for Your 3D Printing Business
- Develop Your 3D Printing Business Plan
- Choose the Legal Structure for Your 3D Printing Business
- Secure Startup Funding for Your 3D Printing Business (If Needed)
- Secure a Location for Your Business
- Register Your 3D Printing Business with the IRS
- Open a Business Bank Account
- Get a Business Credit Card
- Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
- Get Business Insurance for Your 3D Printing Business
- Buy or Lease the Right 3D Printing Business Equipment
- Develop Your 3D Printing Business Marketing Materials
- Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your 3D Printing Business
- Open for Business
1. Choose the Name for Your 3D Printing Business
The first step to starting a 3D printing business is to choose your business’ name.
This is a very important choice since your company name is your brand and will last for the lifetime of your business. Ideally you choose a name that is meaningful and memorable. Here are some tips for choosing a name for your 3D printing business:
- Make sure the name is available. Check your desired name against trademark databases and your state’s list of registered business names to see if it’s available. Also check to see if a suitable domain name is available.
- Keep it simple. The best names are usually ones that are easy to remember, pronounce and spell.
- Think about marketing. Come up with a name that reflects the desired brand and/or focus of your new business venture.
2. Develop Your 3D Printing Business Plan
One of the most important steps in starting a 3D printing business is to develop your 3D printing business plan. The process of creating your plan ensures that you fully understand your market and your business strategy. The plan also provides you with a roadmap to follow and if needed, to present to funding sources to raise capital for your business.
Your business plan should include the following sections:
- Executive Summary – this section should summarize your entire business plan so readers can quickly understand the key details of your 3D printing business.
- Company Overview – this section tells the reader about the history of your 3D printing business and what type of 3D printing business you operate. For example, are you a service bureau, product manufacturer, or a print-on-demand service?
- Industry Analysis – here you will document key information about the 3D printing industry. Conduct market research and document how big the industry is and what trends are affecting it.
- Customer Analysis – in this section, you will document who your ideal or target customers are and their demographics. For example, how old are they? Where do they live? What do they find important when purchasing products or services like the ones you will offer?
- Competitive Analysis – here you will document the key direct and indirect competitors you will face and how you will build competitive advantage.
- Marketing Plan – your marketing plan should address the 4Ps: Product, Price, Promotions and Place.
- Product: Determine and document what products/services you will offer
- Prices: Document the prices of your products/services
- Place: Where will your business be located and how will that location help you increase sales?
- Promotions: What promotional methods will you use to attract customers to your 3D printing business? For example, you might decide to use pay-per-click advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and/or social media marketing.
- Operations Plan – here you will determine the key processes you will need to run your day-to-day operations. You will also determine your staffing needs. Finally, in this section of your plan, you will create a projected growth timeline showing the milestones you hope to achieve in the coming years.
- Management Team – this section details the background of your company’s management team.
- Financial Plan – finally, the financial plan answers questions including the following:
- What startup costs will you incur?
- How will your 3D printing business make money?
- What are your projected sales and expenses for the next five years?
- Do you need to raise funding to launch your business?
3. Choose the Legal Structure for Your 3D Printing Business
Next you need to choose a legal structure for your own business and register it and your business name with the Secretary of State in each state where you operate your business.
Below are the five most common legal structures:
1) Sole proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the owner of the 3D printing business and the business are the same legal person. The owner of a sole proprietorship is responsible for all debts and obligations of the business. There are no formalities required to establish a sole proprietorship, and it is easy to set up and operate. The main advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it is simple and inexpensive to establish. The main disadvantage is that the owner is liable for all debts and obligations of the business.
A partnership is a legal structure that is popular among small business owners. It is an agreement between two or more people who want to start a 3D printing business together. The partners share in the profits and losses of the business.
The advantages of a partnership are that it is easy to set up, and the partners share in the profits and losses of the business. The disadvantages of a partnership are that the partners are jointly liable for the debts of the business, and disagreements between partners can be difficult to resolve.
3) Limited Liability Company (LLC)
A limited liability company, or LLC, is a type of business entity that provides limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The advantages of an LLC for a 3D printing business include flexibility in management, pass-through taxation (avoids double taxation as explained below), and limited personal liability. The disadvantages of an LLC include lack of availability in some states and self-employment taxes.
4) C Corporation
A C Corporation is a business entity that is separate from its owners. It has its own tax ID and can have shareholders. The main advantage of a C Corporation for a 3D printing business is that it offers limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The disadvantage is that C Corporations are subject to double taxation. This means that the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and the shareholders also pay taxes on their dividends.
5) S Corporation
An S Corporation is a type of corporation that provides its owners with limited liability protection and allows them to pass their business income through to their personal income tax returns, thus avoiding double taxation. There are several limitations on S Corporations including the number of shareholders they can have among others.
Once you register your 3D printing business, your state will send you your official “Articles of Incorporation.” You will need this among other documentation when establishing your banking account (see below). We recommend that you consult an attorney in determining which legal structure is best suited for your company.
4. Secure Startup Funding for Your 3D Printing Business (If Needed)
In developing your 3D printing business plan, you might have determined that you need to raise funding to launch your business.
If so, the main sources of funding for a 3D printing business to consider are personal savings, family and friends, credit card financing, bank loans, crowdfunding and angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who provide capital to early-stage businesses. Angel investors typically will invest in a 3D printing business that they believe has high potential for growth.
5. Secure a Location for Your Business
There are a few things to consider when looking for a location for your 3D printing business. You’ll want to find a space large enough to accommodate your equipment. Additionally, the space should be in a convenient location for your customers. Another factor to consider is the cost of the rent. You’ll want to find an affordable location that offers the space and resources you need.
You may want to consider renting a space in an industrial park or business incubator, which can provide the resources to get your business up and running.
6. Register Your 3D Printing Business with the IRS
Next, you need to register your own business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which will result in the IRS issuing you an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Most banks will require you to have an EIN in order to open up an account. In addition, in order to hire employees, you will need an EIN since that is how the IRS tracks your payroll tax payments.
Note that if you are a sole proprietor without employees, you generally do not need to get an EIN. Rather, you would use your social security number (instead of your EIN) as your taxpayer identification number.
7. Open a Business Bank Account
It is important to establish a bank account in your 3D printing business’ name. This process is fairly simple and involves the following steps:
- Identify and contact the bank you want to use
- Gather and present the required documents (generally include your company’s Articles of Incorporation, driver’s license or passport, and proof of address)
- Complete the bank’s application form and provide all relevant information
- Meet with a banker to discuss your business needs and establish a relationship with them
8. Get a Business Credit Card
You should get a business credit card for your 3D printing business to help you separate personal and business expenses.
You can either apply for a business credit card through your bank or apply for one through a credit card company.
When you’re applying for a business credit card, you’ll need to provide some information about your business. This includes the name of your business, the address of your business, and the type of business you’re running. You’ll also need to provide some information about yourself, including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth.
Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you’ll be able to use it to make purchases for your business. You can also use it to build your credit history which could be very important in securing loans and getting credit lines for your business in the future.
9. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
There are a few licenses and permits you will need to start a 3D printing business. You will need a business license, a trade name registration, and a sales tax permit. You may also need a zoning permit. Check with your local government to see if there are any other licenses or permits that you will need.
10. Get Business Insurance for Your 3D Printing Business
The type of insurance you need to operate a 3D printing business largely depends on the type of printing services you offer.
Some business insurance policies you should consider for your 3D printing business include:
- General liability insurance: This covers accidents and injuries that occur on your property. It also covers damages caused by your employees or products.
- Workers’ compensation insurance: If you have employees, this type of policy works with your general liability policy to protect against workplace injuries and accidents. It also covers medical expenses and lost wages.
- Commercial property insurance: This covers damage to your property caused by fire, theft, or vandalism.
- Business interruption insurance: This covers lost income and expenses if your business is forced to close due to a covered event.
- Professional liability insurance: This protects your business against claims of professional negligence.
Find an insurance agent, tell them about your business and its needs, and they will recommend policies that fit those needs.
11. Buy or Lease the Right 3D Printing Business Equipment
To start a 3D printing business, you’ll need a 3D printer, filament, and a computer. The type of filament will depend on the material you want to print. There are many different types of filament available, so you can find one that matches your needs. You’ll also need a computer to design your prints.
12. Develop Your 3D Printing Business Marketing Materials
Marketing materials will be required to attract and retain customers to your 3D printing business.
The key marketing materials you will need are as follows:
- Logo: Spend some time developing a good logo for your 3D printing business. Your logo will be printed on company stationery, business cards, marketing materials and so forth. The right logo can increase customer trust and awareness of your brand.
- Website: Likewise, a professional 3D printing business website provides potential customers with information about the products and/or services you offer, your company’s history, and contact information. Importantly, remember that the look and feel of your own website will affect how customers perceive you.
- Social Media Accounts: establish social media accounts in your company’s name. Accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social media networks will help customers and others find and interact with your 3D printing business.
13. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your 3D Printing Business
The primary software you’ll need to run a 3D printing business is a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software to help you design 3D prints. You’ll also need a slicing program, which takes your CAD designs and turns them into printing instructions for the 3D printer. You may also want to invest in some general business software such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, accounting software, and project management software.
14. Open for Business
You are now ready to open your 3D printing business. If you followed the steps above, you should be in a great position to build a successful business. Below are answers to frequently asked questions that might further help you.
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How to Start a 3D Printing Business FAQs
Is it hard to start a 3D printing business?
It is not hard to start a 3D printing business, but it does require 3d printing business ideas, planning, and knowledge on additive manufacturing technology. You'll need to invest in the right equipment and create a business plan that outlines your goals, strategies, and how you plan to make money. You'll also need to find customers and market your business. Luckily, there are many resources available to help you get started.
How can I start a 3D printing business with no experience?
There are a few things you can do to get started in the 3D printing business with no experience. You can research the latest technologies in the printing business and learn about the different types of 3D printers and materials available. You can also attend trade shows and networking events to learn more 3D printing business ideas, expand your skill set and meet potential customers and partners. Additionally, you can speak with experienced 3D printing business owners for guidance.
What type of 3D printing business is most profitable?
Medical 3D printing businesses are the most profitable type of 3D printing business. This is because there is a high demand for medical prosthetics and implants, which can be produced with 3D printers. Hospitals and clinics are always looking for new and innovative ways to improve their services, and 3D printing can aid in this improvement.
How much does it cost to start a 3D printing business?
To start a 3D printing business it will cost you between $10,000 and $50,000. This includes the cost of the 3D printer, the cost of materials, and the cost of labor. However, keep in mind that this is just a starting point and your costs may vary depending on the size and scope of your business.
What are the ongoing expenses for a 3D printing business?
The ongoing expenses for a 3D printing business can include things like filament, electricity, and labor costs. Filament is the material used to create 3D prints. It can be expensive depending on the quality and type. Electricity costs can also be high if many machines are running simultaneously. Labor costs can add up if employees are needed to help run the business. It is important to factor in these ongoing expenses when starting a 3D printing business, so you can be prepared for the costs associated with running it.
How does a 3D printing business make money?
3D printing businesses make money by charging for their printing services. They also create and sell models of objects that have been printed using a 3D printer. Additionally, other businesses offer design services, where they will create a customized 3D model for a client based on their specifications.
Is a 3D printing business profitable?
Yes, 3D printing can be profitable because it is a quickly growing industry, with most businesses discovering opportunities for success. The technology is becoming popular, so there is a growing demand for 3D printing services. Local businesses are also becoming familiar with 3D printing. They are increasingly looking to use it for rapid prototyping of custom made tools and small-scale manufacturing at a reasonable cost. It is cost effective and speeds up the production process in many businesses. This means there is a great potential for growth in the 3D printing industry, making it a profitable business venture.
Why do 3D printing businesses fail?
There are a number of reasons some 3D printing companies might fail. One reason is that many people still prefer the traditional manufacturing methods and there may not be a large enough market for it yet. Another reason is that the printers themselves are expensive to purchase, which can make it difficult for small businesses to compete. Additionally, the materials used for 3D printing can be expensive, which can further limit the appeal of this technology.