By Sam Wright
3D is a hot topic at the moment, and 3D printing is perhaps the most exciting technology that takes advantage of our revived interest in 3D. The first 3D printer may have been built in 1984, but it has taken this long for it to really become a commodity.
The price of 3D printers are only just starting to fall within the reach of everyday people, and as a result, these strange-looking gadgets are just beginning to appear in people’s homes. This means that there is a great new market opening up for designers – one which skips the manufacturing, sales and distribution processes and gets products directly into the hands of consumers.
If you are interested in working in 3D design, this new market is a great opportunity for you since you can sell your own 3D printables. But building and advertising your own website takes a lot of effort. The good news is that there are several websites which allow you to sell your designs online.
Here are 5 sites for you to look at.
1. 3D Burrito 3D Burrito is a new site, still in the beta stage of development. It is run by two 3D printing enthusiasts in Sweden, with big plans for it to become the iTunes of the 3D printing world. The site will allow designers to upload their 3D designs and sell them at their own price. 3D Burrito will take a 30% cut from each sale.
Sorry! 3D Burrito is gone!
2. Azavy Azavy is another site that’s relatively new to the web. This site allows designers to upload and sell their designs, but also allows people with a 3D printer of their own to offer 3D printing services to locals in their area. This is a great opportunity for designers to make money on manufacture of their designs, as well as selling the design itself. The site also provides some useful analytical tools to find out what designs people are looking for.
And so is Azavy!
i.materialise is a site based in Belgium which offers a unique service to designers and consumers. One of the main issues with 3D printing is that each 3D printer uses slightly different materials, and that can be quite limiting. i.materialise lets you upload your design, choose from a range of materials and get a price. You then set your own price for the product and sell it in your own store.
Shapeways is one of the biggest 3D printing companies around at the moment. It has a presence in both the US and the Netherlands. This site makes it easy to open up your own store to sell your designs. The main point of the company is to actually manufacture the print and deliver it directly to your customers, so customers don’t actually get the files containing your design, which means that you are less likely to see other people pirating your work.
As tried and tested as 3D printing is, the industry behind it is still in its infancy. As more sites and tools become available and as more people invest in their own 3D printer, the marketplace is likely to change drastically. Getting involved in the early stages will mean a rough ride, but gives you the opportunity to make a name for yourself before anyone else does.