3D Systems slips following critical WSJ column

The WSJ's Rolfe Winkler questions whether consumers will buy 3D's (DDD -1.4%) $1,300 Cube printer in large numbers, given high materials costs and limited use cases.

Winkler: "[The Cube] can make only tchotchkes—plastic napkin holders or chess pieces, say—that can be bought cheaply and quickly elsewhere. Even making these can require expertise with sophisticated design software."

He also notes a critique from William Blair's Brian Drab (previous). Drab asserts measuring 3D's organic growth is tough, given it has made 37 acquisitions since '09. SA contributors have made similar arguments.

3D's rising DSOs (84 days in Q2, up from 72 in Q4) and rising investments in reseller deals are also criticized.

Fortune's Clay Dillow offered a skeptical take on the 3D printing industry earlier this week (relevant to SSYS and XONE as well as 3D Systems).

Among other things, Dillow argued technology limitations will continue hindering the mass-production of many 3D-printed objects, and that patent battles and the poor quality of low-end 3D printers - Stratasys' MakerBot unit is trying to address the latter issue - could also hurt industry growth.

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Comments (10)
  • Izzy1
    , contributor
    Comments (194) | Send Message
    These remarks are from someone with a limited vision of the changes taking place throughout the world. Costs will come down as volume increases and R&D will continue to improve the entire system.
    A number of dentists have put systems in their offices in OC, California. It did take time for the dental tech to learn the system. But they believe they can make dentures or individual teeth quickly and at a cost savings. It will take time but this technology is being spread around the third world by a senior MIT professor and his company.
    He is actually seeding 3rd world countries with this technology and it has been working for over a year with great results. If young 3rd world kids can run this technology successfully the rest of the world will
    figure it out.
    We are just scratching the surface.
    6 Sep 2013, 02:24 PM Reply Like
  • Bill Teter
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
    My dentist has been making 3D gold crowns for at least three years now. The 3D system worked better than the lab most of the time and certainly was quicker and cheaper.
    Bill Teter
    6 Sep 2013, 03:58 PM Reply Like
  • mkbgsoar
    , contributor
    Comments (110) | Send Message
    Such a shallow understanding of the 3D Manufacturing Industry may scare short term speculators; it will give long term investors opportunities to stock up for a promising future.
    This holiday season is the first serious effort of 3D "Printer manufacturers" to reach the broad market of individuals and small business customers. At the individual customer level the applications are limited to small simple objects like fake jewelry, plastic gaskets, replacement bolts and screws or sets of buttons, or personal cell phones cases, etc, etc. At small business level, dentists and/or their labs already use them to produce dentures and invisalign braces; artists, architects and structural engineers to build models; mechanical engineers to produce prototypes; etc....
    The growth of 3D "Printing" Industry is conservatively projected to double in 3 years. The price of its leader 3D Systems is justified; so is its repeat Fortune 100 recognition; it moved its positions to 2nd in technology and 5th among all Companies. A well deserved ranking indicating wise business global development strategies over the past 30+ years of its inventive history.
    6 Sep 2013, 03:01 PM Reply Like
  • Dmarque@
    , contributor
    Comments (42) | Send Message
    I've been in DDD for more than a year now. It will continue to morph in its product and to its application. I find it interesting that you believe that The Holiday Season is an opportunity to reach Small Businesses. How/Why would small businesses use the holiday season to re-tool their Manufacturing Depts. ?
    6 Sep 2013, 03:31 PM Reply Like
  • where_are_the_customers_yac...
    , contributor
    Comments (13) | Send Message
    The point that I believe these folks miss when they complain that DDD or SSYS are generating growth through acquisitions rather than "organic" growth is that this is still the early stage of industry accepting and using 3D printing. SSYS and DDD are both seeking to expand not only vertically but also horizontally within the additive manufacturing space. They are seeking to expand as much as possible in to the entire space so as to offer the most complete service they can. By offering a most complete solution to businesses of various levels as well as individuals, they are likely to "capture" clients and reap the rewards of repeat customers, as well as presenting a barrier to other companies coming and offering a competing service, even for part of the process. If a customer gets into a DDD product, that customer is more likely to use the DD provided services rather than seek alternative services which may or may not work as seamlessly as the 3D provided product. At least that is the theory I believe based upon having watched the development of computers and computer software.


    I fully agree that AT THE CURRENT TIME, additive manufacturing is a limited thing... but as it is more widely adopted, as more materials are developed, as more software is written, as more young tech geeks have access, as second and third and fourth generation printers are available, ... the whole area will grow by leaps and bounds. Those companies who occupy the space now and seek to increase their footprint will be the ones who are more likely to dominate in the future.


    At the current time, it is unreasonable to expect "mass production" of 3D items given the print speeds. The current use of 3D printing is not going to be in the area of mass produced items but rather in the space of individual items such as dental or other medical products which will be printed for a specific individual, prototypes or ( reasonably near future) rarely needed parts so as to eliminate the need for a supplier to maintain a large inventory... just print as needed. Perhaps in the future the speed of 3D printing will rise to the level where mass production is an issue, but this is not where 3D printing will have utility now.


    Further, the complaints about the home users only being able to make little, relatively insignificant things is not that important to me. The real growth of 3D printing will be in the metals area, particularly for prototype development and for replacement parts.


    I do not know where it will all end up... with DDD or SSYS dominating or sharing or a third major company developing. I do believe that it will end up with one or two major companies dominating the space and receiving significant revenue streams.
    6 Sep 2013, 03:56 PM Reply Like
  • mackcap
    , contributor
    Comments (16) | Send Message
    Ever notice the pile on timing of negative & positive analysts articles?
    Knock the stock all the way down faster, then let them back up.
    6 Sep 2013, 04:53 PM Reply Like
  • cefco
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
    Nobody seems to discuss what the Navy can do (produce) aboard their ships. All the stored parts could be replace by the 3D printer which is a huge savings of space and weight aboard all of the Navy's fleet of ships. The replacement parts could be exact fits for the damaged parts.
    6 Sep 2013, 04:53 PM Reply Like
  • mkbgsoar
    , contributor
    Comments (110) | Send Message
    This Holiday season will show some results of the marketing efforts DDD started lately this season using SYNNEX, B&H, Staples and Office Depot as promoters and retail markets; in addition to all the leading presence at International Shows around the world.
    Acquisitions are natural in technology; often they are the outcome of partnering on previous projects here in USA or anywhere around the globe.
    I don't remember how many Millions GE has allocated in this years budget to set up a Department focusing on 3D Printing ... 41 is the number stuck in my mind. And, its partnering with SGLB for 3D on-process quality control and likely metal objects for aerojets engines is not to be ignored.
    6 Sep 2013, 07:24 PM Reply Like
  • Wildeweasel
    , contributor
    Comments (178) | Send Message
    Early computer quotes


    The following is from the business section of The Kansas City Star, Jan
    17, 1995:


    "Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
    - Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of
    science, 1949.


    "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
    - Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.


    "I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked
    with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is
    a fad that won't last out the year."
    - The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957.


    "But what ... is it good for?"
    - Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM,
    1968, commenting on the microchip.


    " There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
    - Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of
    Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.


    Zeigen's Source: Mary Beth 27 Jan 1995 17:22:02 -0800 (PST)
    Author: unknown, but the article attributes the Kansas City Star.
    7 Sep 2013, 09:37 AM Reply Like
  • Galileo2you
    , contributor
    Comments (44) | Send Message
    Tabloid writer at his Best!


    Rolfe Winkler
    Writer, Heard on the Street at The Wall Street Journal
    Matador Capital Management
    July 2002– November 2006 (4 years 5 months)
    Analyst at $500 million long/short U.S. equity hedge fund.
    11 Sep 2013, 01:56 AM Reply Like
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