Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, lockdowns forced people to reconsider their careers. There are now more opportunities to set up businesses from home than ever before. The online world has transformed business opportunities, and so has 3D printing.
3D printers are much more affordable than they used to be, but they can still be expensive pieces of equipment for start-ups to invest in. The good news is, you don’t need an in-house 3D printer to run a business that uses 3D printing. Nowadays, you can simply upload your design via a CAD file to an expert online 3D printing service to receive prototype and production prints within minutes and have your products delivered in a couple of days. You’re sure to find a local company to fit your needs. You could also consider outsourcing injection molding requirements.
Once you know how you will 3D print items, you can consider what type of business is right for you. There’s a multitude of options available. For example, you could sell customizable accessories. You could 3D-print and sell items like pet collars, picture frames or phone cases. If you pick the right niche, this type of business has enormous growth potential. Other business opportunities include:
- A print-on-demand service, which simply involves printing other people’s designs.
- A 3D printing and design service, in which you take care of the whole process, from taking customers’ ideas and creating designs to printing the finished products.
- A spare parts service, which involves printing parts for devices or items like cars. Because technology is always rapidly changing, many parts become obsolete quickly. By providing 3D-printed spare parts that are tricky to find, you could create a lucrative business.
Many individuals and businesses are now using 3D printers to make parts and products that are useful in the fight against the pandemic. For instance, an engineer who runs a small drone repair business in Florida has used a 3D printer to create a small plastic gizmo to open doors and for touching keypads to keep hands clean. The inventor, Tim Hileman, calls it a COVID Key, and the keys are now in popular demand. Hileman has also been 3D printing plastic face mask straps to relieve the chafing caused by masks and the pressure of pulling masks off the ears.
Another example of how 3D printing is being used to battle COVID-19 comes from Italy. A hospital in Brescia with 250 patients suffering from the virus and requiring breathing apparatus ran out of respiratory valves. The original supplier was unable to keep up with demand, but thankfully a local engineering firm stepped up and created valves to save the patients’ lives, using 3D printing.
By Sasha Douglass