Although we're many years away from 3-D printing competing against large-scale traditional manufacturing, 3-D printing still has an edge over traditional manufacturing in terms of complexity and customization. Because no tooling is required, 3-D printing excels at creating highly complicated objects, which would be otherwise impossible to manufacture with traditional processes. In addition, this characteristic also allows for custom-tailored solutions to be made more affordable than traditional manufacturing.

As a result, the two companies in the best position to benefit from the rise of 3-D printing are 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) and Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS). 3D Systems is the most diversified 3-D printing company around, offering a broad exposure to the 3-D printing market. Recently, 3D Systems helped develop the world's first hybrid robotic 3-D printed exoskeleton, which allowed a paralyzed woman to walk again after more than 20 years of being confined to a wheelchair.

With Stratasys, investors get a more conservative management company that's focused primarily on the prototyping market. Stratasys offers some of the most advanced prototyping 3-D printers on the market, which positions it well for when more businesses want to invest in 3-D printing as a way to save time and money during the design process.

In the following video, 3-D printing analyst Steve Heller goes into more detail about where 3-D printing is superior to traditional manufacturing.

Steve Heller owns shares of 3D Systems and Google. The Motley Fool recommends 3D Systems, Google, and Stratasys. The Motley Fool owns shares of 3D Systems, General Electric Company, Google, 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.