Science Fiction to Science Fact: 3D Printing
Moustafa is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Can you imagine writing a blog on a tablet that you printed earlier in the day, sitting on a couch that was printed to your exact specification while kicking your feet up on your uniquely designed coffee table printed from a design created on your printed tablet? Obviously, this is not our reality today but how far off that reality is much closer than many people think.
Though 3 D printing is still in its infancy the products being created by these 3D printers are not just for use as toys but are being utilized in advanced industries such as Aerospace. The potential for these printers is as limitless as one's imagination. Boeing (NYSE: BA) has finally finished its 787 dreamliner which will have half of its primary structure built from composite materials. This incredible leap in aviation technology has led the 787 to set pre order records even with its late delivery dates. Undoubtedly, this will be a first of many newer aircrafts that will contain more and more composite materials.
How does this new aviation technology have anything to do with a relatively new 3 D printing technology? This is just the type of advanced tech that can benefit from 3D printing technologies, as unique parts can be quickly created to exact specifications. When Straysys (NASDAQ: SSYS) which was the major player in industrial 3D printing applications merged with smaller 3D printer Objet, the industry was put on notice and there was a jump in the share price of both Straysys and 3D systems (NYSE: DDD), another 3D printing company. Though Straysys is an industry leader in industrial 3 D printing working with companies like BMW and Honeywell, 3D systems has had a more consumer focused outlook. 3D systems has created an online community through its web page connecting people with ideas with those whom have 3D printers. They have continued to created printers that have become more and more accessible to consumers while improving the technology to allow more and more products to be printed three dimensionally.
Similar to the desktop revolution spurred by Apple's home computer the 3D printing industry has incredible potential and is in its infancy. Like computers, the early 3D printer’s were big, not accessible to consumers, and very expensive. As the technology continues to advance, these barriers become less and less of an issue and the potential for the industry becomes almost endless. If you can think of anything that is 3D in your home (Which is effectively everything) it could be potential individually customized and printed with these printers.
The beauty of this industry is the potential growth in the industrial and consumers segments of the market. There is more than enough space for several players, but first mover advantage will be huge as others will be playing catch up for years. 3D systems has focused more on the consumer market with more and more affordable printers and an increasing range of capabilities. Straysys has taken a different focus, working on bigger projects, and already has major corporations utilizing parts created from its 3 D printers. Moving forward I would say both these companies are good plays in this nascent industry that within the decade could, like computers, be in almost every home, office and factory.
mooseelz owns shares of 3D Systems. The Motley Fool owns shares of 3D Systems. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend 3D Systems 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. If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.