In the last couple of years, 3D printing went from sci-fi movie level to something people could actually do in their living rooms. From 3D culinary creations to 3D printed dog legs for a puppy in need, you can pretty much print anything… even if Kanye West thinks it’s bad for the fashion industry. But 3D printing can be more than just a hobby. Lauren Slowik, who leads the education team at Shapeways, an online marketplace for buying and selling 3D-printed jewelry, homewares, tech accessories and more, wants you to make it your side hustle.


Shapeways is more than just the Etsy of 3D printing. When you open a Shapeways shop, you create the designs, but everything is 3D printed by Shapeways manufacturers using 55+ different materials, from colored plastic to ceramic to 14k gold. Basically, you do the fun part and they take care of the rest. We chatted with Lauren about why you should definitely be turning those awesome product ideas into your new side hustle, and she gave us these super helpful tips for anyone wanting to get started with designing for a 3D printer.


1. Don’t be intimidated. “Pretty much everyone is new to 3D printing, no matter where you fall on the tech spectrum,” Lauren tells us. Even so, if you don’t have a tech background, designing real products can feel daunting at first. But Lauren assures us a newbie can do it, saying, “If you can change your profile picture on Facebook, you can design a necklace.”


2. Simplicity is key. Lauren says that it’s better to produce two or three really great, useful and well-designed products than a bunch of mediocre ones. And how do you come up with your one great idea? “I often tell people to look at their own lives and think, what’s a tool or area in your life where you wish you had something to improve that experience?” Lauren says.


3. Focus on marketing. “Take the time to think about your brand before you launch a shop,” Lauren says. Come up with a really great name for your line or your product, and don’t shy away from allowing your personality to shine through. “I cannot emphasize enough the benefit of taking good photographs of your products and of using platforms like Instagram Stories and Snapchat to tell the story of how you make stuff,” Lauren says.

And as an extra incentive, you can start your Shapeways side hustle with the discount code BRITCO for 20 percent off your order until October 31!

What would YOU design for your Shapeways shop? Tweet us about it @BritandCo!

(Photos via Shapeways)