One company -- unsurprisingly, one of our Motley Fool Rule Breakers picks -- is working to make Star Trek technology a real part of our daily lives. 

Although not yet able to synthesize piping-hot beverages, the Stratasys (Nasdaq: SSYS) Dimension direct digital manufacturing unit is up to the task of manufacturing the cup the beverages come in. And the idea seems to be catching on.

According to a rolling roll call of marquee customers on the company's website, Stratasys' machines are in use at electronics specialists Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), Garmin (Nasdaq: GRMN), and Nokia (NYSE: NOK), as well as at industry titans Deere and Toyota. Even Xerox (NYSE: XRX) -- one of the brand names of printing -- turns to Stratasys when it needs to "print" something with more than two dimensions.

Stratasys reported its first-quarter earnings last week, and the numbers sparked what is, as of this writing, an 11% rally in the stock. Sales posted a respectable 12% rise, while margins soared. The gross margin increased nearly 300 basis points to 56.7%, and despite sizeable investment in research and development, Stratasys' operating margin retained most of this increase in rising 170 basis points to 17.9%. Hence, Stratasys was able to print more profit than the revenue spike would suggest -- $0.18 per share.

The increase in margin would appear to validate Stratasys' strategy of emphasizing its own higher-end 3-D printers and halting its lower-margin resales of other people's printers. According to management, 89% of the printers it sold last quarter were "premium" Dimension 1200es and Dimension Elite models.

Strangely, the improved Q1 performance hasn't yet persuaded management to raise its guidance for the year. Revenues are still predicted to come in around $133 million, with profits in the neighborhood of $0.81 per share.

Beware margins
Why no boost to guidance? I'm just guessing here, but CEO Scott Crump's mention of his "longer-term strategy of growing the market by making the systems more affordable" suggests that management might not be averse to sacrificing some profitability in pursuit of higher sales volume. I don't mean that to detract from Stratasys' strong quarter, but it's something to keep in mind going forward.

Related Foolishness:

Stratasys is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Try this market-beating publication free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of either company named above. Garmin is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor and Global Gains selection. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.