State of the Farm

The Big Experiment: Growing a 3D Printing Hobby Into a Full-time Business

Two years ago I fell in love with the idea of 3D printing. After binge watching 3D printing YouTube channels for a few weeks I purchased two Prusa i3 MK3 3D printer kits. And the journey began (sort of).

Welcome to the JoySpark 3D journey. This is my first post and, consequently, I’m going to lay out my purpose, my goals, and where I am at right now (May 17th, 2020).

Who am I? What’s my goal?

I’m a maker/entrepreneur with the goal of growing a 3D printer farm out of my garage. I mean, who doesn’t want an army of robots that makes them tons of money all at the click of a few buttons? Seriously though, going from hobby printer who enjoys printing miniatures to having an agile manufacturing operation with significant capability to design, prototype, produce and deliver for serious clients would be pretty awesome. I want to explore that possibility.

In other words, to have an income stream based on the capability of the 3D printers and to prove a small-scale manufacturing model. Oh, and to grow my printer farm to fill my garage (because obviously).

But is it possible? This is what I want to find out. And if at the end of it all I have a collection of articles on what not to do then that’s ok. However, the goal is to build a sustainable business based on small-scale manufacturing and provide content for like-minded hobby entrepreneurs looking to become full-time professionals.

Where am I at?

Two years ago I jumped into this with big dreams. Then I switched jobs, got busy and distracted with my other business (, and allowed the 3D printing to run on auto-pilot. A few weeks ago I finally picked it back up with renewed focus and drive. 

I sell 3D printed model mountains on Etsy (I’ll devote another post as to why mountains). The Etsy shop was super easy to start, and I have various mountains listed. It is fairly low-risk, mainly requiring a lot of time to make and photograph products. Of course, when I started it I had no idea if anyone would be interested.

3D Printed Model - Antelope Island
This is a recent model I did of Antelope Island. Probably my favorite to date.

Here is my JoySpark Etsy shop:

Today I have 74 sales, 10 reviews and been favorited by 34 individuals.

My plan is to post a monthly “Status of the shop” Etsy update on this blog.

Aside from the Etsy shop I have had a few orders from MakeXYZ (I don’t recommend this route – perhaps I will write a future post on it). I have also done some work modeling and printing cookie cutters for a local business. 

Then, of course, there are the one-off print jobs for family and friends. This is fun but really only covers the cost of materials.

As you can see, not much by way of a start. It is time to get to work and see where I can take this. Today I started this site and blog. Tomorrow I will ship off an Etsy order and print a custom request for a friend. Then later this week I’ll post another update.

Why am I starting a blog?

Let’s be clear, it’s not to sell you a course or a subscription. 

I don’t consider myself as being successful—yet. I have ideas, drive, a little bit of traction, and lots of goals. But I’m not there. I can’t write about how I’ve “made $1,000 a month selling on Etsy” or earned passive income while I’ve slept. The internet is full of bloggers selling people on these ideas based on their own supposed success stories. 

This blog is about the journey.

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