How This French 3-D Printing Company Differentiates Itself From the Competition

It’s playing to the strength of 3-D printing.

Jun 1, 2014 at 2:43PM

Between Shapeways, 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS), and now Proto Labs, it's safe to say that the 3-D printing as a service space is becoming increasingly crowded. Although manufacturing expertise can be certainly act as a key selling point between competitors, speed is also an area where 3-D printing service centers can out-muscle the competition. French-based Sculpteo thinks its fast turnaround times will help differentiate it from competing services.

On average, Sculpteo can turn a 3-D model into a 3-D printed object for its customers within eight days, but in certain instances, it can fulfill orders within five days. Shapeways, which focuses on providing consumers with professionally 3-D printed objects, aims to get prints out the door in six to 15 days, with shipping taking an additional one to eight business days. Sculpteo is more focused on the business market, with its ideal customer being a small business that needs to rapidly iterate a prototype, make product improvements, and bring said product to market as quickly and affordably as possible. Ultimately, Sculpteo and competing rapid prototyping services are playing to the strength of 3-D printing, which allows prototypes to be made quickly and affordably. This fundamental strength has brought 3D Systems and Stratasys greater fortune in recent years, and it has certainly been a boon to their stock long-term prices.

DDD Chart

DDD data by YCharts.

While 3D Systems' and Stratasys' competing professional 3-D printing services don't readily advertise 3-D printing lead times, both companies certainly have their share of expertise with 3-D printing as a manufacturing medium, not to mention they have an opportunity to sell their 3-D printing products to companies like Sculpteo that are working to define the segment. At the end of the day, the name of the game for 3D Systems and Stratasys is to sell as many 3-D printers as possible, so it creates an opportunity to generate a highly profitable stream of recurring revenues through the sale of proprietary materials over the lives of their printers.

In the following video, 3-D printing specialist Steve Heller asks Kristen Turner, director of U.S. marketing at Sculpteo, how it differentiates itself in the crowded 3-D printing service space. Going forward, 3D Systems and Stratasys investors should continue to monitor developments out of the 3-D printing as a service space to get a better understanding of which technologies -- and therefore companies -- are most favored.

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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.

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

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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." 

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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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