3D Systems Corporation Stock: A Rare Opportunity?

Forgot to order that fashionable phone case for your best friend's birthday? If you own one of 3D Systems' (NYSE: DDD  ) desktop printers, don't worry about it; just find the specs for a similar case and print it at home.

Even if you haven't realized it yet, this is the new reality of printing. It's called 3-D printing -- and industry leader 3D Systems has already worked the prices for its consumer printers down to $999.


3D Systems' newest Cube printer, retailing for just $999. Source: Cubify.

3-D printing technology isn't new. In fact, it's been around since the 1980s. But recently there has been a clear and irrefutable shift in the sentiment toward the industry's potential. Now it's inevitable: 3-D printing will be a major part of the future.

Best of all, there are clear beneficiaries to this trend, giving investors an opportunity to cash in on the revolution. One of my favorites? 3D Systems. Boasting the broadest portfolio of 3-D printers among its peers, this leader looks poised to ride the revolution.

What exactly is 3-D printing?
It's incredibly simple. In fact, it's the simplicity of the technology that makes its eventual mass adoption seem more certain than speculative.

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAffee, authors of The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, boil the new technology down to its simplest form: "3D printing, also sometimes called "additive manufacturing," takes advantage of the way computer printers work: they deposit a very thin layer of material (ink, traditionally) on a base (paper) in a pattern determined by the computer." The biggest difference, of course, is that "Instead of just putting ink on paper, they are making complicated three-dimensional parts out of plastic, metal, and other materials." It's like an act "straight out of science fiction," the authors explain.

3D Systems' CubePro enables end users to print in three simultaneous colors and it has three material options. Source: Cubify.

The simplicity of the technology means it's broadly applicable. Even better, however, it reduces time and cost while increasing efficiency and effectiveness. The name itself, "additive manufacturing," is indicative of the enormous amount of waste this form of 3-D printing saves compared to traditional ways to create. Historically, the creation process usually cuts away (subtracts) the excess waste, carving out needed shapes. But in 3-D printing, only the needed layers are built by adding one precise layer at a time.

Tapping into opportunity
If there's any company that will certainly benefit from a wide range of a growing number of applications of 3-D printing, it's 3D Systems. The company is already poised to be a game-changer in industrial manufacturing, professional prototyping, and consumer crafting. With key access to the three large core markets affected by 3-D printing, and a portfolio of products and services that addresses them thoroughly, 3D Systems offers investors a way to snap up their share of the broader industry's bright future. 3D Systems' performance over the long haul will, almost undoubtedly, closely follow the general market adoption of this disruptive technology.

Just how big is the opportunity? Globally, 3-D printing sales were just over $3 billion in 2013, according to figures from Wohlers Associates. But we're still in the beginnings. Wohlers estimates global industry sales to reach $6 billion by 2017 and $10.8 billion by 2021.

Even more intriguing, growth isn't slowing. In fact, growth has recently accelerated. "The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.9% is the highest in 17 years," Wohlers said in a May 2014 report.

3D Systems isn't missing out on the boom. Consider some of these wild year-over-year growth rates 3D Systems reported in its first-quarter earnings release: 

  • 76% growth in unit sales of design and manufacturing 3-D printers
  • 41% growth in 3D printing materials
  • 150% growth in consumer sales

But all this growth -- and clear opportunity for more -- doesn't automatically make 3D Systems' stock a buy. Sure, the clear trajectory for further disruption and sales growth is a great starting point. But investors should demand a deeper understanding of a particular company before they make it a long-term holding.

So, without further ado, here's a free report on this disruptive company and other key opportunities in the 3-D printing industry:

You can't afford to miss this
"Made in China" -- an all-too-familiar phrase. But not for much longer: There's a radical new technology out there, one that's already being employed by the U.S. Air Force, BMW and even Nike. Respected publications like The Economist have compared this disruptive invention to the steam engine and the printing press; Business Insider calls it "the next trillion-dollar industry." Watch The Motley Fool's shocking video presentation to learn about the next great wave of technological innovation, one that will bring an end to "Made In China" for good. Click here!


Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (8)

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.

  • Report this Comment On June 13, 2014, at 9:50 PM, BillFromNY wrote:

    I have one foot in two of the 3DP companies and I'm trying to decide whether to put the other foot in or take the first foot out.

    A number of people in the "additive manufacturing" space speak very harshly about media hype as the main driver of this sector's sudden popularity. For example, the Wohlers Associates report cited above found that "the industry's compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.9% is the highest in 17 years."

    But that report also says that the average CAGR over the last 26 years has been 27%. A growth rate only eight percent higher than the average growth over 26 years doesn't sound all that explosive.

    I'm reading Jim Mueller's "Deep Dive" series with great interest.

  • Report this Comment On June 18, 2014, at 9:35 AM, HeartJS wrote:

    That case you printed for your best friend, which took three hours, and looks and feels like junk, is similar to this stock--overhyped and underperforming.

    I am sorry I took the fool's advice when I bought this stock. 3D Systems has spent far too much money on acquisitions. They diluted my shares by selling more stock to make MORE acquisitions. Now they likely will be seriously hurt or destroyed by large, well-run companies like HP who are getting into this market.

    Yet, even with all the negative indicators, and poor performance history, Motley Fool still recommends DDD.

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