Thanks to being "discovered" by U.S. investors, Swedish-based Arcam AB (NASDAQOTH:AMAVF) had an incredible year. As a result, this lesser-known metal 3-D printing company has skyrocketed more than 400%, easily outpacing industry leaders 3D Systems and Stratasys.

Arcam's proprietary electron beam melting, or EBM, technology differentiates itself from the 3-D metal printing crowd, which often uses a process technology called selective laser sintering, or SLS. Like SLS, EBM is an additive manufacturing process that selectively heats and melts a layer of powder-based metal, but instead of using a laser, its uses an electron beam inside of a vacuum chamber.

One of the biggest advantages of EBM over SLS is that it can produce metal parts in significantly less time and at less cost. The only trade-off is that EBM cannot produce parts at the same level of detail that SLS can.

In the following video, 3-D printing analyst Steve Heller reflects back on Arcam's stellar performance, looks forward to Arcam's upcoming opportunity in aviation, and discusses what investors should expect in the year ahead.

Fool contributor 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 and has the following options: short January 2014 $20 puts on 3D Systems. 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.