Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Is This Where 3-D Printing Goes Parabolic?

The benefits from the proliferation of additive manufacturing, or what you and I would call 3-D printing, are all around us. From major corporations like Boeing using 3-D printed parts in its planes to biotechs like Organovo Holdings printing out three-dimensional human tissue models for research and therapeutic applications, additive manufacturing is becoming more a part of our everyday life.

Source: Organovo.

Yet it's been said that when the technology gets into the hands of common folk like you or me is when it will really take off. The first signs that shift is occurring were evident when companies like Staples and Office Depot started offering consumers 3-D printing services, and UPS did likewise for commercial accounts through its franchised UPS Store with Stratasys printers. 

3D Systems (NYSE: DDD  ) is also making it a reality with its Cube system made for the mass market, but other companies like MakerBot, RepRap, and Ultimaker are challenging the corporate business model and bringing the technology to the masses. However, we could now be on the cusp of seeing 3-D printing for the masses really taking off as 3D Systems partners with toy maker Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS  ) to create what they call "new immersive, creative play experiences powered by 3D printing."

While they'll be revealing further clues about what this means later this year, the news so far suggests additive manufacturing is about to come into the home in a big way. Imagine if, as Hasbro prepares to release its latest Transformers movie, not only did it ship to toy stores its own set of action figures based on the film, but began blanketing TVs with commercials advertising that kids can download their own plans from its Cubify site, 3D Systems' centralized hub for specs and plans, and print out their own favorite Transformers figure on their very own Cube printers.

Source: 3D Systems.

This is huge. I've already suggested that 3-D printing can revive an ailing RadioShack if it moves to capture the maker movement that will drive a new industrial revolution, and it has the potential to similarly lift the flagging toy industry out of its own doldrums.

Hasbro just reported disappointing results for the fourth quarter as the Christmas shopping season failed to bolster spirits or sales. Like its larger rival Mattel, which also missed analyst expectations by a wide mark because kids are leaving behind traditional toys and games in favor of electronic gadgets, tablet computers, and smartphones -- what Hasbro has called the "children getting older younger" phenomenon -- it saw revenues come in flat this year and slightly below forecasts. Profits were also slightly lower.

Although I might lament the loss of simpler forms of fun as parents indulge their kids' move away from board games and such, a collaboration for 3-D printing play experiences could allow for their revival. How much more willing would a kid be to play a round of Monopoly if she printed out her own race car piece? Wouldn't a child become more engaged if he had just printed out his own Kre-O character? My Little Pony is already a juggernaut for the toy maker, but it's easy to suspect the ponies could grow to monster size if a Princess Twilight Sparkle could be printed out before the newest episode was released on Hasbro's The Hub TV channel.

Princess Twilight Sparkle. Source: Hasbro.

A 3-D printing system in every home could satisfy the desires of kids (and their parents) for the latest cutting-edge technology, while providing a new impetus to return to the traditional games and play experiences that call up the necessary use of imagination, as well as critical thinking and strategy that helps minds develop. Play is an important component of development that kids don't get from gadgets, and additive manufacturing could actually lead to its renaissance.

I think we'll find more 3-D printing players looking to tap this market. I'd expect Mattel will be watching this experiment closely and might even have its own plans in development. Hasbro, which is more reliant upon movies for its revenues than its rival is, would also have more opportunity to capitalize on the 3-D printing bonanza.

I suggest you strap yourself in on the leading players in the 3-D printing field, because it appears we're on the cusp of the technology going parabolic. And it might just take companies like Hasbro, who are willing to be early leaders, to help usher in these changes.

That's a print!
For the first time since the early days of this country, we're in a position to dominate the global manufacturing landscape thanks to a single, revolutionary technology: 3-D printing. Although this sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, the success of 3D printing is already a foregone conclusion to many manufacturers around the world. The trick now is to identify the companies -- and thereby the stocks -- that will prevail in the battle for market share. To see the three companies that are currently positioned to do so, simply download our invaluable free report on the topic by clicking here now.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2842072, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/3/2015 3:14:23 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Rich Duprey

Rich has been a Fool since 1998 and writing for the site since 2004. After 20 years of patrolling the mean streets of suburbia, he hung up his badge and gun to take up a pen full time.

Having made the streets safe for Truth, Justice and Krispy Kreme donuts, he now patrols the markets looking for companies he can lock up as long-term holdings in a portfolio. So follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the most important industry news in retail and consumer products and other great stories.


Today's Market

updated Moments ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,395.48 44.10 0.27%
S&P 500 1,955.95 7.09 0.36%
NASD 4,747.55 -2.43 -0.05%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

9/3/2015 2:58 PM
DDD $13.08 Up +0.08 +0.58%
3D Systems CAPS Rating: ****
HAS $77.00 Up +2.49 +3.34%
Hasbro CAPS Rating: ****