Okay, so you have Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) skills that you want to make money with. Do you know where you want to start? If you have learned these skills in a course or two from an accredited college or technical school, then you have an idea. I hope so anyway!?! If not and you are self taught, then try 3D printing, Desktop CNC, and Laser engraving. These are the simplest tools to get started with once you master Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM).
If you are asking yourself, ‘what is Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)?’, then you have not used programs like Autodesk Autocad and Fusion 360. There are many more 3D CAD softwares out there like Blender and SketchUp. Myself, I use the Fusion 360 Personal Use software because it has CAD and CAM features which allows you to create your design and then generate the tool path for your CNC machine, laser engraver, or 3D printer. Also because it is free for personal and hobby use.
Okay, so what, you say!?! Well the 3D printer, laser engraver, and CNC machine are the tools that will use the .stl files which you create in the 3D CAD software. You can create great ideas in your software but if you cannot bring them to life then you can’t call them anything more than an idea. It will never be a patent without an actual product. Trust me, I have checked into this. Maybe now you ask, ‘do I need to know how these machines work to use CAD software? The answer is it could help make your CAD drawings sell better!
When I say it could help you to know how to use these tools, this is how I explain that answer. Say you want to design something for the thangs.com website where you plan to showcase your creations and .stl files. Well if you don’t take the time to make sure that they work by printing them with a 3D printer, cutting them out with a CNC machine, or lasering them into a piece of wood you could do more damage than good to your online presence as an artist. Even free things, people want to get ones that they can make use of right then.
There are sites that you can sell your .stl files for people to use with the tools listed above. Places like thingiverse.com allow you to sell your files. But people have bought files that were unfinished or had errors that didn’t work in the tools the right way or not at all.
Even if you do not have the money to invest in all the tools you should invest in having your .stl files produced for the photo purposes to sell your design idea. 3D printed and even CNC machined parts can be expensive but there are people in these communities that do good work for cheap. If you plan on taking this route, try Fiverr.com
In the best case scenario, get yourself a 3D printer (roughly $200), a laser engraver (about $200) and a desktop CNC machine (about $300), at the bare minimum so that you can not only create ideas but you can also create actual things to hold! I have plans that I hope do not change too much. I plan to invest in these tools myself to make things to sell on a website I will build as well as at yard sales and flea markets. Have a blessed day!