You Have the Idea and 3D Printer – Now What?

Posted by Franka Schoening On April - 2 - 2017

How to begin the process of taking new inventions to market

By Franka Schoening

You Have the Idea and 3D Printer — Now What?

How often have you had an idea for a great product, but never saw it come to life because the required capital to create it rivals the cost of a house in Manhattan? Many hobby inventors are scared off by the monetary commitment imposed on them to make their invention a reality, and so they put their blueprints into the “future projects” folder instead of in front of customers.

This is a tragedy really, as someone out there has designs on how to build a machine that solves problems such as speeding up the old lady counting her pennies at the supermarket check out – just imagine the GDP gain if people spent the time working on great ideas as supposed to waiting in line; diverting people from bumping into you when they are texting while walking – I vote to divert them into poles and call it natural selection; and, perhaps most importantly, a device that collects all your pet’s hair from the couch, floor, bed, clothes, and carpets. Or even better yet, one that stops the shedding completely. A girl living in her own little urban rescue animal farm can only dream.

While traditional manufacturing requires expensive machinery, product-development software, and extensive negotiations with suppliers to even produce a first-round prototype, 3D printing opens the door for a home-based product creation with minimal investment. Additionally, as Chuck Alexander, director of product management at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, already pointed out in 2005 inventions can be tweaked and improved easily with 3D printing to test product functionality and perfect it before pushing it into the market with a reduced risk of failing. In-house printing furthermore allows for increased input from stakeholders, according to Christian Richter from R&D Technologies.

However, the ability to manufacture your own idea with 3D printing should not be mistaken for guaranteed success. Many more factors need to be considered and everybody relying on 3D printing for their start-up enterprise undergoes extensive homework to properly begin. Thankfully, there are a number of instructional materials available online.

A great resource in this case is the Ultimate Guide to Designing and Manufacturing your Product Idea provided by J-CAD Inc. These comprehensive instructions walk any aspiring 3D business person through the product development process starting with market analysis and patent law, followed by finding help through freelancers and businesses, to prototyping, pricing, packaging and marketing.

J-CAD Inc. has been involved in the 3D printing industry since 2006 and offer various services including designing, mold creation, printing, and shipping. Furthermore, they offer PR services and assistance with crowdfunding and other marketing functions.

Pinshape provides another step-by-step guide for inventors eager to turn their idea into a profitable product. In addition to the aspects mentioned by J-CAD, Pinshape also discusses a variety of 3D printing softwares, design principles that consider your product’s supports, material, and the level of detail among others, as well as hardware.

It is furthermore wise to consult guides that are not 3D-printing-specific, since the framework for conventional product development is very similar, if not equal. Check out Entrepreneur’s article on NYX cosmetics’ success story, or read suggestions by Harvard Business Review if you are seeking funding for your invention. Joining the PDMA (Product Development and Management Association) is also recommended for active entrepreneurs in the 3D community.

With resources like these available, it is our hope you can save the world with that product you have been thinking about all these years. When you do, share your stories with us at 3D Printr Magazine and we will do what we can to help promote it. It is our belief that your success makes all our lives more successful.


Franka Schoening, a German native, moved to sunny Southern California in 2011 to attain her Masters of Communications Management at the University of Southern California. Since graduating she has worked in operations in the medical industry and as group events coordinator in eco-tourism.

In her free time you can find her in the rabbit room at the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter, cooking vegan feasts, treasure hunting at estate sales and thrift stores, or picking up a random new hobby, lately sewing. She also organizes events and fundraisers for LA Rabbit Foundation and has a small rabbit boarding business.