Many analysts have criticized Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) for not offering a 3-D metal printing solution. After all, 3-D metal printing is poised to become a huge industry in the years ahead, with the aviation industry starting to make use of it for mission-critical components. While it may seem as though Stratasys is missing out on a potentially massive opportunity, it's likely for a good reason.

Currently, 3-D metal printing is very capital intensive and its applications are more limited in scope than 3-D printed plastic. As a result, the barrier to entry in the 3-D metal printing space is much higher than the 3-D printed plastics segment. From Stratasys' perspective, these constraints limit the total business opportunity for the company, which likely explains why it hasn't entered the metal 3-D printing market with its own product offering yet. It's important for investors to remember that Stratasys has a long history of being laser-focused when it comes to making new acquisitions and entering new markets. Until the economics and opportunities around 3-D metal printing improve, the heavy capital and resource outlay required today may divert Stratasys' focus from its core operations.

In the following video, 3-D printing analyst Steve Heller sits down with Rich Stump of FATHOM, a highly experienced Stratasys reseller and service center, to discuss why he believes it's still too early to bet on 3-D metal printing from a service center standpoint. Stump is ultimately optimistic that the economics behind 3-D metal printing will improve in the years ahead.