3D Systems Corporation Reinvents the 3-D Printer

It offers the potential to revolutionize manufacturing as we know it.

Jun 20, 2014 at 6:45PM

In order to make Google's highly customizable and modular smartphone concept Project Ara a reality, 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) was tasked with creating a "factory from the future." This entailed inventing a continuous high-speed 3-D printing assembly line to accommodate creating customized modular smartphone components on a larger scale. Although the manufacturing platform didn't exist at the time, 3D Systems delivered a working prototype in less than a year of its official partnership with Google.

Source: 3D Systems.

No small feat
Last November, when 3D Systems' partnership with Google was announced, "high-speed" and "3-D printer" weren't often found in the same sentence. By nature, 3-D printing is a layer-by-layer additive manufacturing process, which inherently makes speed a major shortcoming of the technology. In order to boost production output to where thousands of customized parts can be efficiently produced each day for Project Ara, 3D Systems had to completely reimagine how it approached 3-D printing. Ultimately, 3D Systems opted for a high-speed track system where print beds move from print head to print head, enabling modular components to be made out of a variety of materials, including ones with conductive properties, in a matter of minutes. 3D Systems touts that its "racetrack" approach supports 3-D printing speeds 50 times faster than existing jetting technology.

Big implications
Because 3D Systems can take what it learns from Project Ara and apply it to a host of other manufacturing applications, it opens up the potential for 3D Systems to claim additional market share on the manufacturing floor. Industry watchers like Wohlers Associates believe that 3-D printing continues to offer "tremendous untapped potential, especially in custom and short-run part production," because a company may spend 5%-10% on design and prototyping, but the remaining 90%-95% is spent on production.

Undoubtedly, a manufacturing platform that offers continuous, high-speed fab-grade printing capabilities would position 3D Systems for tremendous growth potential in the much larger and less saturated manufacturing segment of the 3-D printing industry. Because it's almost certain that 3D Systems will patent this 3-D printing manufacturing platform, the company will also likely enjoy a first-mover advantage over the competition for years to come.

With the promise of 50 times faster print speeds, 3D Systems may have created a massive opportunity for itself in the coming years to grow its manufacturing market share. Going forward, 3D Systems investors should look forward to EuroMold 2014 this November, when 3D Systems officially debuts this manufacturing platform to the public. Until then, sit tight and look forward to additional teasers about the platform.

3-D printing stocks for the next decade
Believe it or not, 3-D printing is already being employed by the U.S. Air Force, BMW, and even Nike. Respected publications like The Economist have compared this disruptive technology 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 3-D printing being the next great technological innovation, one that will bring an end to "Made In China" for good. Click here!

Steve Heller owns shares of 3D Systems and Google (A & C shares). The Motley Fool recommends 3D Systems, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of 3D Systems, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). 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.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.

 


Compare Brokers