Is This the Future of 3-D Printing?

Manufacturers of all stripes are realizing the benefit of using customized 3-D-printed parts in their production processes. The use of rapid prototyping, for example, in which various part designs are 3-D-printed and quickly modified, can help save valuable time in a manufacturing cycle. Companies that don't want to make the investment in specialized equipment are turning to 3-D-printing industry leaders for both parts and customized service solutions. The rise of the "service bureau" will be a significant story in the 3-D-printing industry for years to come.

In the accompanying video, Fool contributors Steve Heller and Asit Sharma discuss the potential winners in the move to outsource 3-D printing and services to the experts. Steve and Asit look at additive manufacturing providers Voxeljet (NYSE: VJET  ) , ExOne (NASDAQ: XONE  ) , and 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD  ) in particular and analyze their potential to benefit from the growing 3-D-printing outsourcing trend.

There's profit to be made in this revolution
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  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 11:43 AM, Torree123 wrote:

    To the folks who who spoke on the topic of 3D service centers. Could the expansion of service centers have a negative impact on sales of 3D printers. Said differently, how will the increase of service centers affect the business model of 3D printer manufacturers to the extent that they are relying on sales of 3D printers to make money? I would think that the market for businesses who must have their own 3D printer is much smaller than the number of companies that can have all their 3D printer needs fulfilled via the occasional purchase of item made by a 3D printer from a service center. The cost of inhouse training and expertise for companies that buy their own printer could clearly be another issue that would encourage outsourcing.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 1:14 PM, TMFTopDown wrote:

    Torree123 --

    I think the service center model could ultimately become more a profitable business on a gross margin basis than selling printers direct to customers, due to the recurring revenue nature of the business, and that material sales tend to be a more profitable business than printer sales.

    To some degree, it's possible that service centers could potentially cannibalize some 3-D printer sales, but at the same time, it opens up a company's potential customer base significantly. This helps explain why so many 3-D printing companies are investing in the service model: the risk of cannibalization is completely outweighed by the market opportunity.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Steve Heller, Co-Author

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2013, at 9:12 AM, lookingtoberich wrote:

    Why did they not include SSYS? This is a major player too!

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 2:25 AM, corcor88 wrote:

    Thank you steve heller and asit sharma! I have recently become so intrigued by the 3d printing industry. I know im pretty late but i know how much potential for growth these companies have. I recently bought a book to get me familiarized with investment opportunities. Im still reading it and learning the jargan used to understand how to function within this field. I would love to see if you guys could help me but im sure its lots too ask for such a demanding website such as this. I will read articles and watch all your videos on this topic. Thank you for your contributions.

    Respectfully,

    Corey

  • Report this Comment On March 20, 2014, at 11:23 PM, 3DFOOL wrote:

    Hi Guys,

    Surprised you didn't mention Red Eye On Demand, Stratasys' service bureau?

    3dFOOl

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