This industry is intensely competitive. The original company is 3D Systems which went public on the Vancouver exchange in 1986. There is an interesting story about raising capital in their history.
Comments by SSYS cheerleaders on Silicon Investor claim an advantage for SSYS because they had a smaller, less expensive machine, although it lacked the precision of the 3D equipment, and the plastic they used produced more flexible models than that used by 3D.
3D brought a desk top model to market that sells at a price close to the SSYS product ($21,000?) and on December 10 introduced a new plastic medium which appears to be more malleable.
Does anyone have a good estimate of the impact of these innovations on the competitive structure of this market?
My interest started with the Jan 12 Fortune article by Gene Bylinsky, "Industry's Amazing Instant Prototypes". There are several companies mentioned in the article and there are several companies mentioned in 3D System's own literature. Each of these seem to have a niche. Some are developing the machines, or the molding material, the conversion from CAD to a 3 dimentional file, and finally, producing the prototype. I did get the impression that not any one technique addressed all needs. 3D Systems seems to be involved in all aspects. But who exactly is a direct competitor? A competitor in all areas that 3D Systems competes? Is the competition in creating the machines or in providing the service using a machine? Is the market rapid prototyping by stereolithography? Who is in the game?
The players in this (US)industry are as follows. 3D Systems, Inc.,TDSC Helisys, Inc. HELI, Stratasys, Inc. SSYS and DTM,Corp. DTMC, ZCorp, Inc. Each have their strengths in specific areas. Not one company answers all the market needs.