For a while, 3D printers were all the rage. They seemed to be advertised everywhere, and everyone was talking about them. But then, as the months and years went by, nothing really seemed to come of it. 3D printers haven’t shown up in households as predicted, and companies too have been slow to pick up on the trend.
As the Founder of a digital marketing company, I'm constantly on the lookout for new product niches that are poised to explode. It seems clear that 3D printers will one day be in everyone's home. The potential is enormous. What's surprising is why it's taking so long.
Part of the problem is that current 3D printers are slow, according to economist Raoul Leering at ING. He told the Telegraph: “Current 3D printers are really slow, so they are not competitive with regard to traditional capital goods. For the time being, they are only competitive when making customized products in a complex shape, but for mass production of traditional products, 3D printers are too slow. We are waiting for a new generation to speed up the tempo.”
Experience has also gotten in the way of implementing 3D printing. For many engineers, they have decades of experience doing something a certain way, and it takes a huge investment of time and energy to implement the latest, revolutionary tech, and it can’t happen overnight.
However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for 3D printing, even if it’s niche.
For those companies that have jumped onboard 3D printing, the annual State of 3D Printing revealed that 47% have reported a greater return on their 3D printing investments than last year, and 90% see 3D printing as an important competitive advantage. And according to Markets and Markets, 3D printing is expected to be worth over $32 billion by 2023.
These insights and more demonstrate the coming success of the 3D printing industry, and that has a lot to do with the major industry players. These players are revolutionizing the 3D printing business by creating devices that can do everything from developing prototypes for end-user products to mass customization, the creation of complex parts, and providing proof of concept.
So, who are the major players in the 3D printing industry and what do they bring to the table?
Since 1983, 3D Systems has been providing 3D products and services to their customers. They’re considered one of the giants of the 3D printing industry and they make printers in a range of sizes from those suited for offices, to those ideal for manufacturers.
They sell 3D printers, print materials, part services, and digital design tools. The company also covers a range of industries from manufacturing to design, engineering, 3D scanning, and healthcare. Its current market cap is $1.36 billion with a share price of $11.88.
The other giant of 3D printing is Stratasys.
In the market since 1988, they operate primarily in the healthcare, aerospace, automotive, and education markets.
With over 1,200 patents, the company is a leader in R&D offering business solutions for manufacturing, prototyping, tooling, production parts and finishing. Some of their key patents include FDM®, PolyJet™, and WDM™ 3D printing technologies.
Their current market cap is $1.13 billion with a share price of $21.35.
Proto Labs Inc
Proto Labs is an up-and-coming 3D printing giant whose business model is based on the rapid production of parts for product designers and short-run manufacturing.
Founded in 1999, their service is focused on three additive processes: stereolithography, selective laser sintering, and direct metal laser sintering. This allows the company to offer industrial-grade 3D printing, assisting developers, designers, and engineers with moving from prototyping to production. They have eight manufacturing locations across three continents with their headquarters in Minnesota.
Their current market cap is $2.16 billion with a share price of $81.
ExOne is fairly new to the 3D printing business, but they have already achieved success in the 3D printing space.
Their machines use an MIT-developed Binder Jetting technology to print complex components using industrial-grade material. It’s an innovative technology that uses a heatless liquid bond to layer materials into various forms and objects. The machine can use various materials, including: metals, sands, and ceramics.
ExOne offers a range of printers from those tailored to production to those used for prototyping or research and education. They have over a dozen facilities across the US, Europe, and Asia.
Their current market cap is $165.49 million with a share price of $10.26.
One of the leaders in the printing and computer business, HP has jumped into the 3D printer game, and they are quickly making waves with their Multi Jet Fusion technology.
Their 3D printing machines claim to deliver quality output ten times faster and at half the cost of competitors by using advanced custom print modes to control mechanical, functional, and aesthetic properties. And, in March 2017, HP unveiled the world’s first state-of-the-art 3D printing lab located in Oregon called the HP 3D Open Materials and Applications Lab, which will assist companies to research and bring to life the next generation of 3D printers.
HP also collaborated with SIGMADESIGN to offer the industry’s first MDK for 3D printing materials. Offering more than just 3D printing, HP’s market cap is $36.5 billion with a current share price of $15.73.
Organavo is a 3D bioprinting technology company that creates three-dimensional biological human tissue for medical, surgical, and therapeutic research and applications.
The company partners with biopharmaceutical companies to build living human tissues that can replace damaged or diseased tissues in the form of grafts and implants. Their goal is to enable ground-breaking therapies and to give researchers a unique opportunity to test drugs without human trials.
Their current market cap is $156.33 million with a share price of $1.48.
There are dozens of more 3D printing companies and services that each offer their own unique spin on the industry from Belgium-based Materialise to Nano Dimension’s nanotechnology-based ink products and new companies are cropping up all the time. If you’re trying to break into the 3D printing industry, contact Group 8A today.