Wohlers: 3-D Printing for Manufacturing Is Nearing the Chasm

According to Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates, a 3-D printing insights firm, the 3-D printing industry is approaching the “chasm” in terms of manufacturing adoption rates.

Apr 23, 2014 at 11:11AM

On a high level, 3-D printing is currently being used in two major ways: prototyping and manufacturing. In prototyping applications, the uses for 3-D printing are well established for companies like 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) and Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) that sell 3-D printers to help designers rapidly test and improve designs before they're sent off for manufacturing. As more products are developed using 3-D printing technology, it allows 3D Systems and Stratasys an opportunity to generate a greater stream of recurring revenues from highly profitable material sales. However, using 3-D printing in manufacturing settings is a totally different animal than using it simply for prototyping. Not only is it more challenging to use 3-D printing for actual manufacturing, it's still unclear how to make the best use of the technology.

Luckily, according to Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates, a 3-D printing insights firm, the 3-D printing industry is nearing the "chasm" in terms of manufacturing adoption rates. In the coming years, Wohlers expects that adoption rates of 3-D printing manufacturing applications will grow more rapidly as the industry collectively learns how to better use the technology in manufacturing settings. For investors, focusing on companies like 3D Systems that offer 3-D printing products for manufacturing applications may provide an opportunity to capitalize on this emerging trend. Many industry watchers believe that 3-D printing metal will be at the forefront of using 3-D printing in manufacturing settings, putting 3D Systems and its recent Phenix Systems acquisitions in position to benefit.

In the following video, 3-D printing specialist Steve Heller and industrials bureau chief Blake Bos break down the difference between 3-D printing prototyping and manufacturing, and show what Wohlers believes the adoption curve of each respective segment currently looks like. 3D Systems and Stratasys investors should watch how the industry adopts 3-D printing in manufacturing settings to help determine which 3-D printing companies are in the best position to benefit.

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Blake Bos has no position in any stocks mentioned. 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."

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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.

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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.

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