3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) has jumped the gun by announcing three new design and manufacturing 3D printers ahead of their EuroMold debut. Here's what investors need to know.
The ProX 400: Large-scale direct metal 3D printing
With a build area of 500 x 500 x 500 mm, the ProX 400 claims to be the largest direct metal 3D printer of its kind, aimed at larger-scale industrial manufacturers seeking economies of scale. Like 3D Systems' other direct metal 3D printers, the ProX 400 will produce high-quality, fully dense metal parts without the tooling requirements of traditional manufacturing.
Beyond its larger build envelope, the ProX 400 can work with more than a dozen metal alloy powders, including stainless steel, aluminum, cobalt chrome, and titanium. In terms of speed, the ProX 400 employs a two-laser system to improve throughput, and also adds a modular design that allegedly allows it to turn around jobs in a little as 15 minutes. While the jury is still out on that 15-minute claim, this will be 3D Systems' first two-laser system, indicating that the company is likely building upon the direct metal 3D printing portfolio it acquired from Phenix Systems.
Price and availability are currently unknown, but 3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental believes the ProX 400 is "a winning combination for everyone from engine builders to aircraft manufacturers, as well as service bureaus doing one-off specialty metal components."
ProX 800: "Fab-grade" plastic parts for prototyping and final products
Immediately available, 3D Systems' ProX 800 is the company's next-generation stereolithography, or SLA, 3D printer, aimed at larger-scale product developers, 3D printing service bureaus, and medical device manufacturers. The ProX 800 features a new industrial design that reduces the 3D printer's footprint by up to 50% but doesn't sacrifice on build volume. Additionally, the ProX 800 employs a fully enclosed new laser printer head that extends the print head's life by 15% and lowers overall maintenance. In other words, the ProX 800 is meant to be a workhorse of a 3D printer from the most demanding of high-volume customers.
Beyond being extremely versatile in terms of the wide array materials available, the ProX 800 claims to be the most accurate and highest resolution 3D printer in the industry. Given the wide array of industries and applications that the ProX 800 can cater to, coupled with a low total cost of ownership that 3D Systems' SLA printers offer, it's likely to be a hit in manufacturing circles.
ProX 500 Plus: Improving upon the ProX 500
Expected in early 2015, the ProX 500 Plus build upon the strengths of the ProX 500, the flagship selective laser sintering, or SLS, 3D printer 3D Systems debuted at last year's EuroMold. The ProX 500 Plus is up to 30% faster than the ProX 500, has better print resolution, and is compatible with expanding range of materials that emphasize part quality, precision and durability.
According to 3D Systems, the ProX 500 Plus claims to deliver injection-molding quality parts, capable of printing part features as small as 0.45 millimeters. Ultimately, the ProX 500 Plus is aimed at customers needing high-strength plastic parts for final products or late-stage prototypes in a variety of applications and industries.
The bigger picture
With these three product announcements, 3D Systems is building upon the recent strength it's been experiencing from its design and manufacturing portfolio. Last quarter, 3D Systems' design and manufacturing revenue represented more than 92% of the company's total revenue, and unit sales increased by 57% year over year. At the end of the day, these three 3D printers are part of 3D Systems' bread and butter, and it appears that 3D Systems isn't sitting idle when it comes to upping the ante. In the coming week, investors should continue to monitor developments out of EuroMold to see what the competition has in store for 3D Systems.
Steve Heller owns shares of 3D Systems. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of 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.