3-D printing is finally getting some mainstream attention, and 3D Systems
1: Emerging technology market leader
3-D printing is still very much an emerging industry. Last year, 3D Systems and chief rival Stratasys
Many people didn't even use a computer until after Apple
3D Systems recently offered an interesting chart from Wohlers Associates during an investor presentation, which claims the 3-D printing market will grow from its current market size to over $5 billion in annual industry revenues by 2020. That's some pretty solid growth ahead.
2: Consumer-market focus
It makes little sense to talk about consumer electronics like PCs when discussing a technology few have ever seen in person, doesn't it? Not quite -- 3D Systems is making a serious push toward the consumer market. It unveiled an inexpensive (by 3-D printing standards) desktop model, dubbed the Cube, at the Consumer Electronics show at the start of this year. That reveal caught a number of people, including myself, by surprise, and it's likely a major reason why 3D Systems' stock has so far outpaced its rival's. Stratasys, in contrast, has nothing anywhere near Cube's $1,299 price point.
Once a company gets a foothold in people's homes, it can stick around for a long time. Hewlett-Packard
3: Strategic diversity
3D Systems' investor presentation, offered last month, has a number of enlightening tidbits on the company's diverse product lines and aggressive market strategies:
- 7 different print engines using over 100 different materials.
- Global user base of numerous high-profile companies.
- Prices range from $1,300 to nearly $1 million per printer.
- Services revenue doubled from 2010 to 2011.
- Serves automotive and aerospace prototyping.
- Produces hearing, orthopedic, and dental materials for medical clients.
- New products generated $23.9 million revenue in first quarter 2012.
- Helps museums preserve and display delicate specimens.
- Introduced 14 new products over the past 12 months.
The company's also made serious consolidative moves, scooping up several smaller 3-D printing companies as well as some other complementary businesses. While Stratasys has focused its efforts on the Objet merger, 3D Systems has made three acquisitions since April, and also completed a major acquisition in January. A recent $100 million offering of new shares seems to indicate that 3D Systems is reloading its buyout gun for another pass, so more additions are quite likely before year-end.
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