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Selling Little 3D Printed Models

Updated: Sep 17, 2022

43.54% of people know that starting a business is extremely difficult. Coming up with a product is only 5% of the equation while marketing and sales make up the majority of difficulties that arise from trying to generate revenue.

There are tons of great products out there, but one or two companies typically dominate the market. Look at DJI drones. There are a bunch of other companies that make equally as good, if not better, videography drones, but through influencer-exposure and content creators using DJI, they quickly emerged as the go-to product for that specific niche.

This doesn't happen overnight. Which is good news for me, since I have been working on this project for over four years and have only now begun to think about what my market position may look like.

I have to start small. There's no way a one-man company like mine can immediately jump to manufacturing flying ca- er- dronecars. I need to introduce myself politely to the market. And, with limited resources, I think the only way to do that is by selling inanimate miniature dronecar builder kits.

You know those wooden model airplanes that people build with their kids using some glue and small nails? It would be like that except the models would be made of 3D-printed PLA plastic and assembled with small screws.

The final product would look something like this, except not exactly because this one printed as a full assembly model all the way through including the support plastic that fills the space in between the gaps.

I was actually thinking something more along the lines of this:

Where each part is printed individually, and then it is up to the consumer to put the pieces together using either small screws or hot glue. I haven't totally figured out the logistics of it, because there is only so much space on a 3D printer build plate. The original CAD files were built around a very specific size for this particular model, i.e. the screw holes are for size 3M screws.

If I printed these as is, the holes would come out to be 10 times smaller than originally intended, and I don't think that even 1M size screws would fit into the tiny holes that would print out. The only other thing I can think of is to either scale the model pieces to be 33% of the original size so that 1M screws could fit, or allow the consumer to use hot glue to put the thing together. I do like the idea of screws, though, given that hot glue can get messy and it's a lot less precise assembly-wise, so I'm probably just going to go with the 33%-scale-thing and call it a day. The only thing with that is it will force me to break up some of the pieces since they won't all fit on the build plate, which is not something I haven't dealt with in the past and is a non-issue for the most part.

The next step after quality assuring the product build is: packaging, instructions, warnings, insurance, disclaimers, sales, marketing, and distribution. This is something I have never dealt with before on the scale that I am aiming for, so it will be an interesting challenge. But, I just wanted to update you guys on the progress I'm making and the business strategy for the next 1-2 years.

After making some sales, I definitely want to onboard a few investors and get a few engineers involved in making a DJI-competitor aerial videography drone. It's a saturated market dominated by highly funded, intelligent companies that I have no business competing with, but my goal there is not necessarily to take over the aerial video drone market. Rather, my hope is that the exposure and attempt at getting my product out there will lead to more momentum and pull more investment into the production of larger-scale drones with practical applications in something like delivery, which will then eventually lead to personal aerial transportation.

I'm still probably around 7 years out from penetrating the market and establishing myself as a serious player in the game, but I wanted to get my thoughts on paper, because I've been lingering with these ideas for a few months now and thought it was about time to get some more momentum back into the project.

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