Back in late 2012/early 2013, The Motley Fool, an online financial and stock analysis firm, highly recommended buying 3D printing stocks, going as far as selling a $40 document with the names of 3D Systems, Stratasys and Dassault Systemes. If you had listened, and provided you sold them in time (at the end of 2013 or in mid 2014), you could have made a small fortune by leveraging on the little bubble originating from the initial hype peek, as described by the Gartner Hype Curve.
Since then, two of those stocks, namely the ones relating purely to 3D printing (3D Systems and Stratasys) and many other ones linked directly to 3D printing have literally collapsed, losing as much as 80% from their late 2013/early 2014 peeks. However the Gartner hype curve predicted this and went on to predict that this crash would be followed by a slower yet more stable and continuous growth. It appears – as The Motely Fool argues – that we have reached that point – at least for enterprise 3D printing (which is the primary type of 3D printing we are concerned with) and there are many indicators that confirm it. These indicators also give us an understanding of the stocks that it might be worth to begin believing in again.
GE and Arcam
The Motley Fool highly recommends buying Arcam and that makes plenty of sense since the Swedish Company was just acquired by GE and its technology is among the most likely – at this time – to be employed for full metal 3D printing production. The fact that GE got directly involved investing as much as $1.4 billion on Arcam and Concept Laser, the leading manufacturer of laser powder bed fusion metal 3D printing systems (also with a keen eye on full production through process workflow automation), is one of the most significant indicators that enterprise 3D printing for production is nearing.
(3D Printing Business Directory does not own Arcam stocks)
HP Vs Stratasys
Another indicator is the fact that HP got heavily involved. Even though the company was split in two both major divisions are doing well on the stock market right now and each one registers yearly revenues which are as much as 10 times those registered by GE. HP’s technology however has not fully proven itself yet so, while it is clear that 3D printing will be a huge business for HP in the future, it is not yet clear if that future has arrived and if it will be based on its own technology or on future acquisitions (or a combination of both). One company, whose past has been closely intertwined with HP, and whose future also might be, is Stratasys. The company’s stock are very low at this time, after hitting close to $140 but the company itself has completed a significant turnaround in terms of products and organization. It now looks more ready to cater to the growing needs of enterprise 3D printing customers.
(3D Printing Business Directory owns both HP and Stratasys stocks)
3D Systems and Canon
The second largest pure 3D printing player and “inventor” of 3D printing has also completed a serious turnaround and now looks ready to star growing again after some significant challenges, mostly in terms of financial performance but also in terms of a slow down in sales. It is launching a serious software and has just completed the acquisition of Veterx, a major player in the dental3D printing materials, which should assure it dominance in this already established and yet rapidly growing market. Some unconfirmed rumors also concern the intention from Canon to acquire 3D Systems (with whom it already has a strong distribution partnership in several important European markets such as the UK and the Netherlands) as a mean to make up lost ground with respect to HP.
(3D Printing Business Directory owns 3D Systems stocks)
Dassault Systemes and Materialise
The French enterprise 3D software manufacturer is literally booming both for sales, stock performance and initiatives. SOLIDWORKS World 2017 in LA is going to be the biggest ever and its products are very much focused on implementing 3D printing in a complete collaborative, distributed and optimized experience.
Materialise also owes much of its fortune to its Magics suite of software, which truly addresses the needs of companies that use 3D printing since Materialise itself is one of the largest – if not the largest enterprise 3D printing services in the world. The company’s stock however is still weak compared to its initial IPO value as investors are not sure it will be able to continue to capitalize on its current market dominance or its “family style” structure and high employee count (compared to turnover) will eventually weaken it as larger multinationals enter the sector (but it is more likely to be strengthened if the company plays its cards correctly).
(3D Printing Business Directory owns both Dassault Systemes and Materialise stocks)
Siemens, SAP & Cisco
Those multinationals are Siemens, SAP and Cisco systems as all have begun specifically targeting enterprise and distributed manufacturing 3D printing services, all partnering with some major players in the industry, such as EOS, Stratasys, Carbon, Trumpf and Local Motors.
(3D Printing Business Directory does not own Siemens, SAP and Cisco stocks)
Low-cost, risky tech
There also are a number of relatively low cost stocks that could represent an opportunity, albeit a risky one. Nano-Dimension, CELLINK, as well as Organovo could be capitalizing on the current hype around 3D bioprinting. However keep in mind that bioprinting is farther back on the Gartner Hype curve so its real growth has not yet arrived and it currently mostly moves on high expectations. The same could probably be said of direct electronics 3D printing, a sector that sees Nano Dimension and the current leader and only real player (along with non-publicly traded Optomec). However bioprinting systems and services are still mostly used for research (an application that could be compared to prototyping in standard 3D printing in terms of hardware demand). Also voxeljet and ExOne, two companies that rode the first hype, are currently way below their IPO value however Motley Fool believes they have not yet proven that they have a viable business. That may be true but both companies have recently shown positive revenue data and have been evolving their market offering. They may be a risky bet but one that could pay off.
(3D Printing Business Directory owns Nano-Dimension, Organovo, voxeljet and ExOne stocks. We do not own CELLINK stocks at this time)