The growing presence of 3D printing is a staple of today’s manufacturing sector.
Siemens, for example, recently announced it will start printing spare parts for gas turbines in an effort to speed up and cut costs. In certain cases, the time taken to repair damage in turbine burners will be cut from 44 weeks to just four.1
Similarly, General Electric’s aviation unit will start mass-printing its first metal component – fuel nozzles for aircraft engines serving both Boeing and Airbus. By 2020, the company expects to have made 100,000 3D-printed fuel nozzles.
However, as use in industrial manufacturing ramps up, evidence of a new frontier is already appearing: consumer electronics.
At next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the promise of 3D printing will be on display. The trade show will feature a new 3D Printing Tech Zone that will showcase the latest advancements in the technology.
As preparations for this year’s show were coming into place, the new zone sold out of its originally allotted 3,000 square feet of exhibit space. CES officials eventually expanded the space by 25% to meet demand.2
This PR push for 3D printing comes as investors have appeared to be increasingly intrigued by the industry’s opportunities.
The 3D Printing motif has gained 8.7% in the past month; the S&P 500 rose 2.3%. Since the motif’s creation in early January 2013, it has increased 57.5%. The S&P 500 gained 27.0% during that same timeframe.
Canaccord Genuity analyst Bobby Burleson said in a recent research note that investing strategies will become more complex in 2014 as the sector matures and competition increases. He believes 3D printing will see more initial public offerings and an increase from competition from European players that specialize in the metal side of the business.3
According to Burleson, any preparation for investing in the sector should involve a closer look at three themes: 1) supply chain complexity; 2) divergent service bureau business models; and 3) metal additive manufacturing processes and growth drivers.
Burleson pointed to a company like 3D Systems (13.5% weighting in the 3D Printing motif) for quickly expanding its product line via acquisitions.
That could pressure other companies to step up their M&A activities, which could help sustain the sector’s rallies into 2014.
1Tanya Powley, “3D printing becomes a solid reality,” FT.com, Dec. 26, 2013.
2Laura Carroll, “3-D printing getting spotlight at 2014 International CES,” reviewjournal.com, July 24, 2013, http://www.reviewjournal.com/business/3-d-printing-getting-spotlight-2014-international-ces, (accessed Jan. 1, 2014).
3Brian Deagon, “3D Printer Market Competition Will Intensify in 2014,” Investors’ Business Daily, Dec. 30, 2013, http://news.investors.com/technology/123013-684516-3d-printer-market-outlook.htm, (accessed Jan. 1, 2014).