Sage Advice for Makers Wanting to Start a 3D Printing Business


Michael, of YouTube channel Teaching Tech, posted a video yesterday that is chock full of advice for Makers who desire income from Desktop Additive Manufacturing (AM). In the video, Michael interviews Maker Myles, the proprietor of a successful, unnamed, auto parts business. When asked about the secret to his success (10:37), Maker Myles utters words of wisdom, stipulating the impetus behind invention and innovation that Makers employ for their creations.

If you are looking to use a 3D printer to produce a part or anything for a business, look in your own work patterns that you use at the moment. What could you use to make life easier? What could you use that doesn’t exist to make life easier?…Coming up with an idea of like, “Hey, this is a problem and we could save x amount of time by fixing it with this part or something like that.” Never down talking anyone else’s product.

Maker Myles

Many Makers stepped up this year to solve a problem with protecting against COVID-19 transmissions by printing masks, ear savers, face shields, and ventilator parts. A few businesses involved with 3D printing worked to find a way to meet the demand for testing swabs. Origin was one of those businesses.

My tweet to Illinois Governor

On November 8, 2018, DCM Ventures announced their Series A investment in Origin, a business started in 2015 by Software Engineers Joel Ong and Christopher Prucha with open source printers. In their announcement, DCM Ventures pondered how companies such as Lyft, Spotify, and We chat may never have come to be if Apple and Google were the lone developers of iOS and Android. DCM stated ” …we believe that no single company or chemist can meet the diverse needs and requirements of customers across all verticals. That is, for the industry to mature we’ll necessarily need to empower designers and engineers with the broadest palette of materials as possible at costs amenable to scale.”

This year, Origin, working with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Henkel and Stratasys, developed nasal swabs that passed clinical trials in April, helping to alleviate a critical shortage. The precision and speed needed to accomplish such a task would not have been possible without 3D printing. Origin recognized the opportunity to demonstrate rapid deployment using 3D printing and worked to deliver results, previously unseen.

Worrying about finding that one big idea. Most of us won’t hit the big idea lottery. And even if we did come up with that elusive big idea, could we pull off its implementation? Do we have the skills, experience, and funding? Maybe you do. I don’t. But here’s what all of us do have: Hundreds of small ideas. Which means we don’t need to look for a big idea if we act on our little ideas. Success is a process. Happiness is a process. Since every process is based on action, not thought… stop waiting for a big idea and act on as many of your small ideas as you can.  

Oprah Winfrey
World Cup

Successful businesses using Desktop AM are not limited to technical areas. Mike and Shey Benner started a cookie cutter business when demand for free cutters appropriated use of their personal 3D printer. Mike noted that the secret behind their success was community engagement and attention to detail. “Most people that get into 3D printing are rather technical and usually they don’t spend the time engaging with potential customers and marketing their products. The combination of Mike’s technical skills with Shey’s creativity and communication skills make a perfect blend for this type of business.” (Quote from blog post by Raul De Frutos)

In summary, a 3D printing business can be started to solve a problem or meet demand expressed in some area of your life. If you have what you consider to be a small idea, act on it. That small manufacturing machine in your home is a tool for your imagination.

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