10 min 14 sec

3D Printing Brings Cosplay Into 21st Century

With a 3D printer and sense of imagination, a California natural gas industry worker takes superhero DIY cosplay to a whole new level.
Etsy Niche Ideas Passive Income Product Reselling

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What It's About

An engineer takes customized cosplay to the next level with a 3D printer.

Business Model
Skills Required
Design & Resourcefulness
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

A self-described nerd, Nikko has a good sense of what others in the community will like. But no one can get it right all of the time. For example, he felt certain that a figurine of a popular female cosplayer and a Batman design would sell like crazy … but in fact, they proved unpopular sellers. It goes to show that it’s important to test. Sometimes your most confident assumptions could be incorrect.

Fun Fact

Nikko swears that the applications for 3D printing are endless. As a matter of fact, he's even used his printer to create custom shelving and a velociraptor shower head for his kids!

Notes from Chris

Episode 977
For his day job, Nikko Mendoza controls natural gas lines to make sure they're safe. And like a lot of parents who work long hours, he’s always looking for a way to make the time he had to spend with his kids really count. Two years ago, this desire converged with another goal of his: to earn a substantial income apart from his day job.

His two young children loved dressing up in costumes, superheroes being a particular favorite. Iron Man was one of their favorites, so he wanted to build an Iron Man suit.

And he did. His first full suit was crafted from foam floor mats. It looked okay for an initial attempt, but he wanted to improve. When he found an Instagram post showing an Iron Man suit with incredible detail, Nikko was intrigued. He reached out to the creator who told him the suit was 3D printed. This led to better costumes for his kids … and what he called Nikko Industries in December 2017.

It started by reselling designs for others to purchase and use to print out their own costumes and props. He made a website using Wix and ran a Facebook group where he promoted his designs. Costs were a little over $1,000, including $800 for the 3D printer itself. He used a pre-order method for his designs so there was no out of pocket expense.

On his website, Nikko Industries, he sells digital files that buyers can print themselves. But realizing that not many people own 3D printers, Nikko also decided to print out the designs and sell them through an Etsy store. The designs cost Nikko between $13-$20 to print, and they sell for $75-$100.

When Nikko opened the store, he set his goals low, hoping to bring in around $200 in the first month. But he underestimated his customer’s desire for a costume that would blow typical cosplay outfits out of the water. He brought in $2,000 that first month. He actually had to halt the growth of the store as it was summer and he wanted to spend more time with his kids while they were on break.

In his first year, he had revenue of $50,000 but reinvested earnings back into the business. This year, he is on track for a revenue of $100,000, doubled sales in a year without spending a dime on advertising. After paying expenses and continuing to reinvest, he’s now taking home a profit of $3,000 or more each month.

This additional income is allowing Nikko to pay off debt incurred by a previously failed side hustle, a fitness bootcamp which saw him lose more than $100,000. (Lesson: don’t do that!) He’s also using the money to take his kids on vacations and save for a new home.

You can’t manufacture money using a 3D printer … but this is the next best thing.


  • Nikko Industries: Learn more about what Nikko is printing up over on his website! And if you'd like to support his cosplaying efforts, head on over to his Patreon page
  • NikkoIndustries: Check out Nikko's lineup over on his Etsy page!
  • 3D Printed Profits: Interested in learning more but think you may need a little extra help? Nikko has launched a course to help you start a 3D printing biz of your own!
  • 3D Printed Armor and Weapon Props: If you're interested in the world of 3D printed cosplay, head on over to Nikko's Facebook group

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"Find your niche—they aren't lying when they say that there are riches are in niches! From there, produce quality products and content, and be engaged in whatever market you’re in."
—Nikko Mendoza #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau