How do I start a 3D business?

 From:  Michael T. (MICTU_UTCIM)
Hi Shaun,

I too work a regular CAD job during the week, but I also do freelance stuff on the side. I have aspirations of working 3D Design fulltime on my own also, but there are realities to consider.

For instance, I have a family to support and the freelance work can be feast or famine, just like working for a company, without the security of consistent income and insurance.

Another thing, most of the work you would be able to secure or contract would likely be software specific, i.e. NX, Pro-E, SolidWorks, Autodesk etc. I myself work with non-specific formats such as STEP, IGES, SAT, Parasolid etc. I use MoI and ViaCAD almost exclusively.
I cannot afford all of the different software and support fees. I just cannot obtain enough 3D/2D work to justify it.

Not trying to discourage you. And I did do something this past year that landed me a couple of steady clients.

One thing I did was to advertise myself on "Craig's List" on the internet for potential local clients. I figured if plumbers, carpenters and handymen can get work from it, why not a CAD jockey? :-)

I had an individual contact me with an invention that he needed a 3D model(s) made for. As with any product development, it was an ever moving target, and after about a month we agreed on the final design and the modeling was completed. We had agreed up front on a price and the transaction was completed as agreed upon. The main thing I can say, is that with freelance work versus working for a company in consideration of the product development time, I did not charge for every possible design iteration in the freelance project that took place, because the individual would not have been able to afford it, where as the company swallows it up for the sake of earning the manufacturing business. I my case, this individual had a brother in the injection molding business to manufacture the parts for him.

Several months after the project was over with, the brother contracted me to work on some projects that he was working on.

My experience has been good, but not very lucrative. Right now I am sticking to doing the freelance work on the side mainly for pleasure not profit. A little extra walking around money is nice too :-)

Anyway Shaun, I hope I have not bored or discouraged you. Just try to sell yourself on your abilities.

Michael T.
Michael Tuttle a.k.a. mictu