3-D Printing: Boom or Bubble?

The annual South By Southwest Interactive conference is, if nothing else, an explosion of big ideas. Yet, this year, nothing proved to be so big, or so crazy, as printing clothes.

Seriously.

In one panel discussion, Mary Huang, co-founder of 3-D printed design house Continuum Fashion, expounded on the possibilities unleashed when consumers are granted control over the process. "If you give people the opportunity to be creative, they will surpass your expectations," Huang said.

If she's right, it would be great news for 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD  ) and Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS  ) , both of which are working to bring down prices and put 3-D printing into the hands of more businesses like Continuum Fashion.

What does the endgame look like? Is 3-D printed fashion destined to put garment districts out of business? In this interview with The Motley Fool's Alison Southwick, Tim Beyers of Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Supernova says there's promise to the idea, though it may be too early to go all-in. Please watch, and then leave a comment to let us know what you think.

3D Systems is at the leading edge of a disruptive technological revolution, with the broadest portfolio of 3-D printers in the industry. However, despite years of earnings growth, 3D Systems' share price has risen even faster, and today the company sports a dizzying valuation. To help investors decide whether the future of additive manufacturing is bright enough to justify the lofty price tag on the company's shares, The Motley Fool has compiled a premium research report on whether 3D Systems is a buy right now. In our report, we take a close look at 3D Systems' opportunities, risks, and critical factors for growth. You'll also find reasons to buy or sell the stock today. To start reading, simply click here now for instant access.


Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2013, at 2:40 PM, Keith1h1 wrote:

    No, I would not wear a 3D printed bikini. I fear I would single handedly destroy the entire industry.

    On the other hand, I think this is just why 3D printing will be so big, there are so many uses for this technology that we cannot begin to understand where it will go.

    Keith1h1

  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2013, at 3:42 PM, Helismoke wrote:

    I still remember when "Experts" said PC's would be too big for the house, but might fit into a garage "Someday".

    And it wasn't too long ago that we had to have our flyers produced from a Commercial printing company.

    Personally, I don't think the ideas for home 3D uses have even touched the real potential in schools, medical offices, etc.

    I'm buying more DDD and plan to hang on for a good ten years no matter what it does.

  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2013, at 4:39 PM, ScottAtlanta wrote:

    I look forward to the day when I only wear clothes that are HOT off the 3D printer (instead of the dryer)....ha ha

    Thanks for this "inspirational" piece...those of us who bought a bit higher need it! I'm hoping the price drop is just shaking out those investors who were expecting too much short term.

  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2013, at 4:56 PM, BIGLAKERIVER wrote:

    I took a look at this bikini on YouTube, very nice.

    Being "plastic" though, each small circle being held together by even smaller thread like plastic would make for an interesting situation if the wear'er would happen to sit on a warm park bench or bar stool. (maybe).

    I agree with one of the above comments however,

    there has to be a great future for this printer in alot of different markets.

    Like any printer, you need to consider the cost of the printer as well as the cost of Supplies & Maintenance.

  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2013, at 8:44 PM, TangoXray7 wrote:

    Did anyone else see the gown designed by Michael Schmidt Studios in collaboration with Francis Bitoni Studio? Modeled by Dita Von Teese? Printed on a Shapeways machine apparently.

    I haven't seen the bikini, but I can imagine the gown done in titanium. It would be amazing.

  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2013, at 8:31 AM, panamajack1 wrote:

    Can you imagine anything so silly as a home with a 3D printer that takes hours to make something?

    My first computer was an Epson that I paid 1200 dollars for. It was soooo slooow and the programs were at best called basic. The first cell phone I wanted to buy was 2500 dollars and you could only use it within a short distance of a cell tower. It was pretty much useless, as was the computer.

    Can you imagine? (Why I am long DDD)

  • Report this Comment On August 03, 2013, at 9:49 AM, IdiotProof101 wrote:

    Airbus seems to already recognize that the nascent and rapidly maturing capability to print 3D metallic parts will revolutionize their whole structural design approach. See this TED Talk video:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/bastian_schaefer_a_3d_printed_jumbo...

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