Why Excess Capacity Is Extremely Important to 3-D Printing Service Providers

In order to maintain a competitive advantage in an increasingly crowded space like 3-D printing services, excess capacity is becoming essential.

Jun 5, 2014 at 11:33AM

In recent years, the 3-D printing industry has continued to emphasize 3-D printing as a service where potential customers can outsource their 3-D printing needs to experts. 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS), Proto Labs, and many other companies offer some form of service that allows businesses and consumers to benefit from 3-D printing without needing the technical expertise. In an effort to expand their 3-D printing services, 3D Systems recently purchased Robtec, the largest Latin American 3-D printing service provider, and Stratasys recently acquired Solid Concepts, one of the highest regarded 3-D printing service providers in the entire industry. With 3D Systems and Stratasys bolstering their services offerings, it's becoming increasingly difficult for companies to differentiate themselves from the competition. French company Sculpteo focuses on quicker turnaround times from its professional 3-D printing services as a way to stand out from the competition.

On average, Sculpteo gets customers their 3-D printed objects within eight days, but in some instances it can turnaround jobs within five business days. Being a growing rapid 3-D printing service provider certainly has its own sets of challenges, especially around 3-D printing capacity. In order for Sculpteo to maintain its quick turnaround advantage, it constantly needs to be thinking about the demand of its services and whether or not it needs bring more 3-D printers online to maintain this advantage. It'd certainly be a risk to Sculpteo's reputation to run its factories at full capacity. In other words, excess capacity is an extremely important factor for a 3-D printing service provider that emphasizes speed to consider.

This challenge presents an opportunity for 3D Systems, Stratasys, and other 3-D printing companies like German-based EOS to sell more printers as excess capacity is scaled with growing demand. Because Sculpteo isn't the only 3-D printing service provider that emphasizes speed, growing 3-D printing service needs across the industry could provide a nice runway of growth for 3-D printer makers.

In the following video, 3-D printing specialist Steve Heller asks Kristen Turner, Sculpteo's director of U.S. marketing operations about the company's future plans for expansion. Going forward, 3D Systems, Stratasys, and other 3-D printing investors should monitor the capacity needs of 3-D printing services to get a better understanding of future demand for professional and industrial 3-D printers.

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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.

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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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