Three 3D Print Businesses You Probably Should Not Launch

By on September 23rd, 2013 in Ideas


Over the past couple of years, interest in 3D printing has exploded. Today more than at any time in the past, more people are aware of 3D printing. 
It’s the perfect time to launch a new business in the 3D print universe, right? 
Not necessarily.  
We’ve seen so many new businesses launch in recent months and so many have also disappeared. While there are successes, there are reasons why. We’ll discuss those reasons another time, but for now here is our list of 3D business launch ideas you should probably avoid for now: 
3D Print Model Repository. There seems to be new attempts at this type of service monthly, but it’s kinda hard to catch up to the likes of Shapeways and the other big services, who have a massive head start. People go where it’s more likely to find what they want, and that means places with many models. And by “many”, we mean thousands. Oh yes, one of your competitors would be Thingiverse, who offer over 100,000 printable 3D models – for free. 
Basic 3D Printer Kit. With the publication of RepRap open source plans, anyone can build a 3D printer. We’ve seen countless variations of the RepRap kit being produced and marketed. Usually there is some unique new feature added, but by and large these kits are very difficult to distinguish in an already crowded market. 
Distributed Manufacturing Hub. The idea here is to leverage the masses of idle personal 3D printers and have them run print jobs for money by routing and dispatching work to them. However, this is a complex business requiring management of perhaps hundreds or thousands of unpredictable participants for small margins. Oh, and you’re already behind several incumbents who have already signed up most of the interested parties. 
But who are we to tell you what to do? Perhaps you have a new twist or financial backing that makes your idea unique. If so, by all means proceed. 
And let us know how it goes. 

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!