This article is going to focus on the various types of industries that have been adopting 3D printing for various uses as you will see, which in turn has helped fuel the tremendous growth that the 3D industry has seen in recent years. Here are some of these industries, in no particular order, that are currently using 3D printing technology that you may not be aware of:
- Orthodontics - Align Technologies custom makes braces; braces are 3D printed using an invisible plastic which is worn over your teeth.
- Auto Racing - prototype engines are designed and assembled using 3D printers before the engine is sent off for final manufacturing; heck, here is a link to the first race car body that was built with a 3D printer.
- Strategic Partnerships - 3D Systems has partnered with Deloitte, a leading consulting firm, in launching "Solution Centers" where mutual clients will get exposure to an integrated set of printing capabilities. Click here for more.
- Automotive Parts Manufacturing - BMW's assembly line workers design and print custom 3D tools to make their jobs easier. Automotive manufacturers will be able to reduce inventories of parts and produce parts on demand, freeing up capital that is usually tied up in inventory costs.
- Fashion Industry - fashion designer Iris Van Herpen uses a 3D printer to print dresses with forms that are unattainable with needle and thread, as seen here. She has printed more than 1 type of dress using a 3D printer.
- Entrepreneurs - Check out this cool 3 minute video showing just one of the endless possibilities of future design capabilities.
- Medical Field - Is the talk of being able to print human organs nonsense? Not if you check out this link. It is hard to believe that one day I will be able to go to the hospital after cutting my finger off with a saw and ask the doctor to print me a new one, but I think that day is not as far off as it may seem.
As you can see from the varying types of industries above that have already adopted 3D printing, there are several more that I did not list in this article. The 3D printing industry is breaking down walls and barriers and taking no prisoners. Some of the above uses are "revolutionary", to say the least. These vast applications have helped firms like 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) and Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) grow their top line revenues at blistering paces. Both companies are well positioned to take advantage of this growing industry. This rapid adoption of 3D printing helps further my "accelerating revenue" thesis that I discussed in my last article.
However, if you missed my prior article, I specifically discussed 3D Systems and its accelerating revenue over the last 2 years. While 3D Systems does not participate in each of the above industries, 3D Systems does appear to be best positioned to capitalize on this industry growth due to their ever expanding portfolio of 3D printing materials. Most recently, 3D Systems acquired Phenix Systems, as seen in this press release from the company, which added metals and ceramics to 3D Systems printing portfolio.
Let's not forget about 3D Systems increasing distribution channels either; Staples is the first major US retailer to offer 3D Systems' printers. While I do anticipate the consumer roll-out and acceptance to be slow at first, that is okay. Retail consumers are just the "bonus" to the revenue line. As more leading companies and entrepreneurs in ever-expanding industries adopt the 3D printing technology and its seemingly endless capabilities, the 3D industry will continue to see growth in the short-term, with or without the retail consumer.
Disclosure: I am long DDD. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.