3D Printing Design Listings – Simple Steps to Sell More

3D Printing Design Listings – Simple Steps to Sell More

As a designer, getting your work out into the world is an important and gratifying part of the process, and 3D design is no different. After you’ve decided how to distribute your design, and test 3D printed your work, there are a few simple things to keep in mind that will help your work stand out from the crowd and capture the attention and admiration of Makers everywhere.

If you decide to share your work in an online marketplace, you can increase your odds of success by showcasing your work in such a way that other people will want to buy it after they see it. A wonderfully showcased design can provoke even those without 3D printers to share your awesome work, so let’s get started!


1. Awesome Pictures = Awesome Results  

High quality pictures are the most important factor in increasing your design sales, hands down. In our study of the key factors that help sell 3D designs, we discovered that you’re 3.1 times more likely to sell a design if you have at least 3 different pictures depicting your design.

Of course, people like seeing what the finished product looks like rather than a render, so consider that when you showcase your design. In fact, designs with photos of real, printed objects are 7.3 times likelier to be downloaded!

A big reason that real pictures make so much difference is that it proves to the Maker community that your design really is printable. No one wants to pay for something only to find out it won’t print, so help instill some confidence in your audience by paying special attention to this part of your listing.

mao photo showcasing pinshape

Mao‘s designs are accompanied with amazing pictures, and he makes the most of the background to bring his designs to life. He knows the importance of good product showcasing. “In my previous “life,” I was working in advertising. That’s why I have photographic skills, and I use a Nikon with a 14MM wide angle and a 50MM.” 

But even if you don’t have a professional camera, or an advertising background, it’s a good idea to try getting a simple photo studio in a box, as recommended by Zheng3. (Or try searching on Ebay for cheaper kits!) You’d be amazed at even what a phone camera with good lighting can do. 

If you don’t have a 3D printer, you can try asking a member of the 3D printing community to test print it for you. There are wonderful folks who would be willing to give your design a try! We suggest visiting an online forum, such as Pinshape’s forum, to get in touch with makers and ask for a hand.


Once you have your printed object, you’ll want to make sure your pictures look as good as they possibly can, so check out our guide on how to take great pictures for your designs and prints.


2. Descriptions Tell Your Product’s Story

Descriptions are an important part of your design listing. They give you space to tell your product’s story and can be the difference between “just another thing” and a design that comes to life in the imagination of a Maker. We know you put a lot of thought and care into your work, so be sure to share that with your fans!

We’ve found that descriptions of at least 50 words long are 1.7 times likelier to be downloaded than those with shorter descriptions. Just as with pictures, descriptions help improve understanding and boost confidence in your work, translating to more sales.

Zheng3 is someone who doesn’t underestimate the power of a good description. Here’s why he started putting more effort into the descriptions alongside his designs:

rex zheng3 pinshape

In the spirit of throwing-everything-at-the-wall-and-seeing-what-sticks, lately I’ve been attaching short stories to my models, because since time, immemorial humans have loved themselves some story. These stories make the models more interesting by adding a little sumpin-sumpin that doesn’t need to be downloaded.

Milton’s tale is here, and Rex’s is over here. (Caution! Rex’s story contains some salty language! You’ve been warned.)

Milton and Rex’s stories reflect two parts of my personality; when I’m intimidated by the world I’m in Milton’s head, and when I’m all like RAWWWWR I CAN DO THIS my buddy Rex comes out to play. (Thankfully I’m more Rex than Milton these days, especially with regard to the trouble in Milton’s bowels.)

seej 2013


I’ve started doing some story work for Seej. This helps me flesh out the fantasy world in which that wargame takes place. Read about Qie Zi’s arrival at the Black Keep here

Pinshapers have responded favorably to the little story extras attached to the models, so I’m going to keep at it for a while. It’s a fun way to stretch some creative muscles that might go unused otherwise, and often leads me in new directions when I’m sketching out the next model.”

You can spice up your listings too! Some ideas for your description includes:

  • What is your design’s purpose? Is it purely artistic or functional, or is it both at once?
  • What inspired your creation?
  • How should it be printed? (Separate parts? Temperature? Weak parts the maker should pay attention to?)
  • Dimensions and sizing options
  • Additional tools required to post-process the printed object

The description is where you have a place to inform your audience why they should choose your print. Make their lives easier and assure them of the details they’ll need in order to make their print perfect!


3. Videos Bring Your Product To Life

For some designs, the best possible way to show them off is by creating a short video. Whether you’re looking to share simple assembly or post-processing instructions, showing off a timelapse of the print, or if you want to show your product in fully-functional action with hollywood quality special effects, a video is a great way to clearly communicate how awesome your design is.

As an example, take a look at 3DKitbash’s Raven Skull Assembly Tutorial, which walks Makers through the process of building their awesome print.

In Matthew Wiese’s video for his sunglasses, he runs people through how he made his design, followed by post processing steps required to finish the model (screws, sandpapering, etc.). 

There’s no need to make a video teaching everyone how to make every design, but it’s easy to see how the video makes the product more engaging, connecting the maker and the designer in a more intimate way, and is a technique that can be especially useful if your design is articulated or made of numerous parts.


4. Tags Make Finding Your Design Easier

After putting in effort to make your listing look great, you’ll want to ensure that it’s easy for people to find your design. If you use social media like Twitter or Instagram, you’ll have noticed that you can add “tags” to your posts. These tags are keywords that help group similar information together, and make it quick and easy for people to find related info, which in this case, would be your design.helpful tags pinshape designer's handbook product showcasing

While tags should certainly be used when sharing your work on social media, tagging should also be done when you’re showcasing your designs on a site or marketplace. If you’ve uploaded a design onto Pinshape, for example, you’ll notice a section called “Tags”, where you can list keywords that are related to your design.

These keywords are used to help find your design in search results when Makers are exploring for their next cool thing to print. The title of your design may not immediately make it clear as to what the product will be used for, so the tags is a good place to allow it to be searched. 

With that in mind, you’ll want to choose your keywords carefully. Think of the mindset someone will be in when searching for your product or something like it, and all the terms they might type in to find what you’ve designed; those will be the words that will help you the most! Keep them short and precise and Makers will end up finding your work.


5. Pricing Your 3D Design

Pricing your design is an important step when trying to generate sales and downloads, and this can be greatly affected by the goals you have for yourself, your brand and your work.

On one hand free designs tend to generate the most interest from the Maker community right now, and can be a great way to build up your reputation, share your work with as many people as possible and get lots of great design feedback from the community.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to make some money from your hard work and talent, setting a price for your work will be the obvious way to go, but the more difficult decision is how much to sell your work for.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 12.00.30 PM


Of course, depending on the effort required to create the design, you should have a rough idea of how much you’d like to sell it for. It’s tempting to set a high price on a design due to all your hard work, but keep your audience in mind. In general, the lower your price, the more purchases.

The average cost of items sold on Pinshape is around $2.50-$4.50, but a design costing less than $1 has a 1.8 likelier chance of being sold. It is very uncommon for people to purchase designs priced over $10, with purchases steeply declining after $5.

One important thing you should be 100% sure of before you sell is: make sure it’s 3D printable. People are paying you for a design, and selling them a broken or unprintable design will lead to them demanding your money back— for good reason.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.44.33 AM


For Justin from shookdesigns, he prices his models by charging a percentage of what the printed out retail product would cost to produce and sell on his Etsy shop. “For example, my spiral  bevel gear iPhone dock takes nearly 2 days for all of the parts to print due to the high accuracy and size and then about 20-30 minutes to assemble. Because of this, I’ve listed the dock (which comes with the charging cord) for $89. I’ve listed the download price for $4.99. That’s ~5% of retail.”


Build Your Brand Through Quality

At the end of the day, like most purchases you make, trusting in the seller plays a huge role in your decision to buy. By making your designs and the way you showcase them of the highest quality, you’ll only improve your chance of success. Build a brand of quality for yourself and you’ll undoubtedly see the payoff.

To get started building your high quality brand and making the most of your awesome 3D design skills, join Pinshape and showcase your work today! 

join pinshape now


Pinshape is a 3D printing community and marketplace where makers from all over the world can find and share their next great 3D print and help each other get the best results from their 3D printers.