Why 3D Systems Corporation Should Be Worried About Stratasys, Ltd.'s Amazing New 3-D Printer

The cutting-edge company combines the best of both worlds, putting it a cut above the competition.

Jan 31, 2014 at 9:31AM

Undoubtedly, the Holy Grail of 3-D printing will be achieved when it fundamentally changes how the world manufactures just about everything. Before this far-off day can become a reality, 3-D printing technology needs to advance to the point where it rivals traditional manufacturing in terms of speed, scale, cost, and ability to print in a range of materials and colors.

Until now, it wasn't possible for a 3-D printer to handle both multi-material and full-color print jobs at the same time. Luckily, Stratasys(NASDAQ:SSYS) recently announced Objet500 Connex3 printer has officially changed that, being the world's first 3-D printer capable of handling multi-material, full-color prints at the same time. Naturally, this development isn't welcome news for self-asserted 3-D printing leader, 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD).


Stratasys Objet500 Connex3. Source: Stratasys

A cut above
Thanks to its triple-jetting 3-D printing technology, the Connex3 can manufacture over 500 "digital" plastic material combinations on the fly, and objects can be printed in as many as 46 colors during a print job. Materials range from rubber-like, to rigid engineering plastics, to transparent plastics, to high-temperature plastics, to everything in between. To give you an idea of the Connex3's capabilities, a pair of glasses with transparent or tinted lenses can be printed as one finished object.


These glasses were 3-D printed during a single job on the Objet500 Connex3. Source: Stratasys

Because virtually zero post-processing is required for 3-D printed objects on the Connex3, it sets an entirely new precedent for the speed and quality of rapid product iterations. As a result, designers can spend significantly more time and less money improving their designs.

Why 3D Systems should be worried
Back in December, 3D Systems introduced its upcoming line of industrial 3-D printers, including the ProJet 4500 and ProJet 5500X. The ProJet 4500 can print in nearly 1 million colors, pixel by pixel, using its proprietary ColorJet technology, and requires zero post processing. The ProJet 5500X uses a proprietary multijet-printing technology, allowing it to print in different materials pixel by pixel in varying shades of monochrome and translucent plastics, in varying strengths.

At the time, I argued that 3D Systems' new industrial printers were such a compelling line-up that it could potentially take market share away from competitors. While that may be the case in certain 3-D printing verticals, the Objet500 Connex3 will likely prevent 3D Systems from establishing itself as the leader on the multi-material and full-color front.

The best of both worlds
Unless the end user requires more than 46 colors to be printed in a single job, it's extremely likely Stratasys' Objet500 Connex3 becomes the poster child for full-color multi-material 3-D printing. The Connex3 offers nearly the same build volume as 3D Systems' ProJet 5500x, almost double the build volume of the ProJet 4500, but combines the best of both worlds in one package. For these reasons, Stratasys has a tremendous competitive advantage over 3D Systems because its product eliminates the need to own separate, costly, and completely incompatible 3-D printers.

At the end of the day, 3-D printing's biggest strength is its ability to rapidly iterate much faster than traditional prototyping methods. This allows designers and engineers to spend more time improving upon their designs, and less time waiting for prototypes. Customers that integrate the Object500 Connex3 into their design process stand to save significant time and money compared to other 3-D printing solutions. For a mere $330,000, consider Stratasys' latest and greatest 3-D printer a steal, and also an investment in productivity gains.

One must-own stock in 2014
There's a huge difference between a good stock and a stock that can make you rich. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for 2014, and it's one of those stocks that could make you rich. You can find out which stock it is in the special free report "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.

Steve Heller owns shares of 3D Systems. The Motley Fool recommends 3D Systems and Stratasys. The Motley Fool owns shares of 3D Systems and Stratasys. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information