Investors have bid up 3D Systems in the hope that it will revolutionize industrial printing and also that 3D printers will become an everyday household object in the future, but I don't see this happening anytime soon. There are many things you can make with the help of a 3D printer, but people seem to ignore the fact that they will need a very expensive high-end 3D printer, which uses resins or lasers, to print these objects. Many people blindly believe that they will be able to manufacture a range of products on a low-end printer (which costs roughly $800), which is definitely not true.
High Time Consumption
The method of producing a simple product via 3D printing can consume plenty of time, and can even last for a couple of days. By comparison, conventional industrial machines can churn out thousands of fully-finished products every day, and there's no way a present-day 3D printer can compete against that. Also, the fact that a 3D printer does not produce a fully-finished object and requires an extra step of removing the object from the printer further delays the printing process. This completely rules out the possibility of 3D printing "revolutionizing" the manufacturing industry.
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- DDD 15-Year Financial Data
- The intrinsic value of DDD
- Peter Lynch Chart of DDD
The strength of the finished product is another issue which comes with this technology. Since this technology uses layering techniques, the printed product will not be as strong as the conventionally manufactured product.
As of now, 3D printers can only print in plastic, resins, and certain metals. These printers are not capable of printing products in mixed materials, and the majority of the products that are used today are manufactured by a combination of materials, and this adds to the limitations of 3D printing. 3D Systems does NOT print in metal. This further restricts the uses of 3D printers.
3D printing is not a user-friendly process, and you will need a CAD model to print any desired product. It goes without saying that you will need to learn how CAD works in order to make a model, and mastering the program can take years. Therefore, it is certainly not rational to assume that 3D printers will become an everyday household item in the future.
In the long term, I think 3D Systems' share price will go down. Due to the aforesaid reasons, I think investors should stay away from 3D Systems.