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Is this a good business idea?

Posted by spacemonkey 
Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 11:29AM
So I graduated with a degree in Computer Games Design nearly 4 years ago now and my job prospects are as grim as ever.
Due to my degree, I have pretty good 3D modelling skills using 3DS Max and so I am toying with the idea of buying a 3D printer so that I can make and sell 3D artwork.
I'm not yet exactly sure what I'm going to make, but I was thinking of something along the lines of figures and interesting 3D designs and anything that people will think looks cool and will want to buy.
I'm thinking of building my own website and selling them on there.
Is this a silly idea? Would it be more trouble than it's worth? Is it a worthwhile business venture?

Also I'm thinking of buying the Ultimaker.

Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 11:36AM
You're probably not the only one trying this model, but as entry costs are low, I think it's worth a try. You're aware of Thingiverse?

Generation 7 Electronics Teacup Firmware RepRap DIY
Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 11:44AM
yeah I'm aware of thingiverse.
I suppose the people I would be selling my work to wouldn't be people who have a 3d printer.
One concern I have is can Ultimaker make good enough models to sell, and also the fact that the cost of 3d printing will come down considerably and become too mainstream for this idea to become profitable anymore, due to over saturation of the market.
Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 01:39PM
My 2cents worth:

I personally think it will be quite a while before 3 printers are mainstream. I don't think the issue isn't so much with being able to make a printer which almost anyone one setup/install/print to. Some of these already exist. Nophead's Mendel90 is a kit which it appears anyone with IKEA assembly knowledge could put together (based on blog posts I've read), and of course the Ultimakers, Makerbots, UP!s, etc of the world offer pre-built machines which can be plugged straight in and print.

I think a reason why these will take a while to become mainstream is because it will take people a while to get up to speed on the software needed to be able to create things. People can't get their heads around how to design things, what to print, etc.

For this reason I think that what you propose does have some value, as the man in the street can't do it. Even doing commissioned work where you do the 3d design and then printing of items for people must have some merit. At the moment IMHO most of the people making money out of "RepRap" and it's associated offshoots are making money by selling printers, etc to other enthusiasts. It will be good to see people starting to actually use the printers to make a business out of offering services that use the printers. I will concede there are some people doing this (and many more may come out of the woodwork because I said this), but people find it easier to copy than to create (being a professional software developer I see this in my own career).

Good luck and have a go!!!

Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 02:10PM
Just to play devils advocate here for a minute. How would your business differ from shapeways or i.materialise? Is it that you would be offering the actual 3D design rather than just printing? I'm not trying to be critical, just trying to make sure that your business has a unique enough "flavor" to differentiate itself from the established printing houses out there.
Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 02:22PM
I suppose it wouldn't really differ from shapeways. Although shapeways is more of a printing service.
It would just be a case of me trying to enter into this market with my own designs on my own website for my own profit.
Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 02:25PM
spacemonkey Wrote:
> my own designs

This is the differentiation that I was recognised in the original post...
Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 03:03PM
Forget about manufacturing the designs yourself - it's all overhead, and if you haven't run a 3D printer before it can be a while before you get good results. Leverage your skills in 3D and get your designs out there. Start releasing basic and less complex content on thingiverse and then get your high-end super-cool design files to ponoko, i materialize, shapeways etc for them to sell. I think this is essentially what Dizingof does.

- akhlut

Just remember - Iterate, Iterate, Iterate!

Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 03:04PM
spacemonkey there is a few ways to make money. I do small to medium business consulting. If you want, drop me a PM with your business idea writing out and I would be happy to give you some pointers. I can't tell you everything but I don't mind pointing you in the right direction if this is a path you want to take.
Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 03:32PM
@ aklhut

Yeah I have been tempted to use shapeways instead, but don't they not fix your models?
So I would be in the same situation of having to find a way of knowing that this model would print out ok before submitting it to shapeways.
Also they will take some of the money, understandably. And also I can imagine those sites ending up like turbosquid, which is absolutely saturated with 3d models to the point where the chances of someone buying your model becomes very slim.
Also is getting a decent print really that hard?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/15/2013 03:33PM by spacemonkey.
Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 04:20PM
It's not that it's that difficult once your machine is really dialed in. But that process can take a while. It's quite an investment to make, and it will take your focus away from actually designing things.

I've never used any of the service bureaus to have something made, so I'm not sure of their processes.

I suppose you're right about getting 3D 'proofs' made in-house. Definitely cheaper. Another fringe benefit would be that you can determine if a model is really suitable for easy 3D printing.

I can understand what you mean about drowning in a sea of models - tubosquid looks insane. I think you've got to establish your name with some great original work that is easily 3D printable.

I'm not trying to be a downer, just being realistic. Whatever path you choose just remember the forums and IRC are here to help you out if you're in a jam.

Good luck!

- akhlut

Just remember - Iterate, Iterate, Iterate!

Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 04:23PM
Hey, I really appreciate your advice smiling smiley
I want people to be as honest as possible because this is a huge decision for me and I really need to weigh the pros and cons before pulling the trigger.
Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 06:11PM

I see a couple of challenges that you will need to deal with, the first being customers. Be honest and ask yourself some hard questions: why would someone want what I am creating, what are my avenues of sales and exposure, how are people going to find my work, how many can I expect to sell and at what profit. Can I exist on these unknown profits.

Are you experiencing delusions of grandeur? I have them with almost every new idea. I'm a serial inventor and have to keep my emotions in check. Don't fall for your own "hustle".

If you just want a printer because of all the hype and the cool factor, and you have $2500 to throw at it, fully at risk of complete loss, then jump in. They are addicting and a blast, but I don't rely on my printers to feed my family. Some people might. Think about things clearly and don't make desperation decisions.

My advice: If you need to make ends meet, settle for a job, any job, and cultivate your design passions on the side.
If you get great at it, you can have a period of double income and you'll know that the money is there.
The best time to look for a job is while you're employed, so be persistent in landing a game designer job, or look into Pixar or the movie industry.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/16/2013 08:21AM by davew_tx.
Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 06:37PM
I've spent many hours weighing the pros and cons and I've come to the conclusion that no matter how much research I do, how many calculations I do, there's just know way I can know if it will work without me trying it.
I'm in the comfortable situation where I am currently living with my parents rent free, and I am financially secure.
But I suppose if this doesn't work out I will be left with an expensive paperweight. I suppose I could always sell it.
And I just don't know if I will get many people buying my stuff either, or if I can direct lots of traffic to my site.
So many unknowns.
Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 08:11PM
Make sure you put some of your designs on ebay and etsy with links to your site for more stuff that way you get more traffic.
Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 08:35PM

how mechanically inclined are you? Maybe build a kit to save some $$$.

- akhlut

Just remember - Iterate, Iterate, Iterate!

Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 15, 2013 08:41PM
The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to pick up a book or two about business and starting your own company. Read and study like your life depends on it, because it will.
Re: Is this a good business idea?
April 16, 2013 09:25AM
Is it something along these lines?

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