3D Printing Shows Immense Prospects: 4 Key Players

3D printing has come a long way since its conception in the 1980s. The young industry has witnessed unmatched stellar growth over the last three decades. As pointed out by the Colorado-based consulting firm Wholers Associate's report, the market had a compounded annual growth of 33.8% during 2012-2014. This phenomenal success of the 3D printing technique is no less than a renaissance.

Encouragingly, according to the independent research firm Gartner, the 3D printing market, which was worth $4.1 billion in 2014, is projected to grow over 500% with a year-over-year growth rate of 45.7% in the next 5 years.

Factors Fueling Growth

Notably, the 3D printing market is inching toward a point of inflexion. Past the phase when it was considered just an over-hyped and unproven manufacturing process, it is now becoming a bankable technology capable of manufacturing innovative products for real.

The growing popularity of 3D printing is based on certain inherent benefits that it brings to the manufacturing process of business enterprises. It helps reduce time-lag in product development process, thereby lowering costs.

Prototyping with the help of 3D printing not only saves money but also mitigates the risks involved in full-fledged manufacturing process. Moreover, it offers customization, and wastage is also kept under control.

These benefits offered by 3D printing are luring various industries, including automotive, aerospace, dental, high-tech and medical, who seek to improve their production process, toward this technology.

Of late, the use of 3D Printing technology has moved beyond traditional industrial applications toward more customer-centric enterprises. This has led many 3D printing companies to venture into creative sectors like fashion and gaming.

The technology has even found application in sports industry for purposes like development of custom protective gear and spike plates for soccer shoes. Retail sector has also deployed the technology for manufacturing jewelry and home decor items, to name a few.

Major Players

3D printing offers significant growth opportunity. According to Wholers' 2014 report, this market, in terms of revenue, will likely reach $12.8 billion by 2018 and cross the $21-billion mark by 2020. The growing market size has attracted a number of players, thereby reducing the barriers of entry.

As new providers struggle to gain their ground, established players continue to explore newer territories to grab a greater market share.

Let's take a look at the key players in the 3D printing market:

Stratasys Ltd.SSYS : With total sales of $750.1 million in fiscal year 2014, the company is currently the top player in the 3D printing market. The company's proprietary technology platforms, huge installed base and direct manufacturing business add to its competitive strength. Further, the acquisitions of MakerBot Industries and SolidScape will boost this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock's market share in 2015 and beyond.

3D SystemsDDD : With total sales of $653.7 million for the financial year 2014, the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock's portfolio boasts industry-leading 3D printing technologies like Stereolithography, Selective Laser Sintering and ColorJet Printing, among others. Currently, the company is exploring areas like manufacturing, metals, medical and mainstreet to boost its competitive position.

MaterialiseMTLS : With total sales of $81.4 million in 2014, Europe's leading 3D printing company has established itself as a major player in medical software and sophisticated 3D printing services markets. With software development, 3D printing and engineering as its core competencies, this Zacks Rank #3 stock's prospects shine bright.

The ExOne CompanyXONE : With total sales of $43.9 million in 2014, the company has a solid reputation for catering to various prototypes and production needs of industrial clients, ranging from automobile industry to energy. Aiming to grab a greater market share, the company has a number of goals for 2015, which include expansion of current facilities, development of new machines and certain strategic collaborations.

To Conclude

The sluggish global macro-economic environment is a deterrent to the prosperity of the 3D printing sector. However, its eye-catching benefits are sure to attract business enterprises, going forward. From an investor's point of view, this is the primary reason one should remain invested in the sector. We believe the above-mentioned stocks are bound to emerge as game-changers.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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