3-D printing is one of the big trends that has caught the eye of Wall Street, with the stocks of companies in the space -- such as 3D Systems (DDD), Stratasys (SSYS), and ExOne (XONE) -- soaring this year.
3-D printing is also known as "additive manufacturing." It is a process of building objects from a 3-D computer design by layering thin strips of material, like plastic or metal, on top of each other. The printers are principally used by the medical device, aerospace, and defense industries, as well as by manufacturers of cars, trucks, and heavy equipment. They help to speed up the design, development, and manufacturing processes.
Once costly and solely used by high-tech industries as part of the computer-aided design (CAD) of products, 3-D printers are coming down in price and slowly entering the non-professional market. The machines are used for the printing, rapid prototyping, and manufacturing of parts, systems, and products. They create actual, working three-dimensional parts directly from digital inputs.
The technology is becoming so advanced and available that a group of hackers, in a widely publicized incident reported in October 2012, said it was working on making an actual working gun with plans of posting the "how-to" files on the Web. While that story got a lot of attention, 3-D printers aren't yet a mainstream product that every consumer wants to own, but they are emerging and cheaper to own.
The printed parts aren't being built from sheets of standard white printer paper, of course, but are produced on the appropriate materials for an industry. Supplying both the printers, services and materials, manufacturers need to make their parts and products is the foundation of the business for 3-D printer makers.
In a set of recent reports, BullMarket.com takes a look at the stocks set to benefit from this trend, including the 3-D printer makers 3D Systems, Stratasys, and ExOne, as well as CAD software makers such as Dassault Systemes (DASTY) and Autodesk (ADSK). Find out which stocks BullMarket.com thinks are the most intriguing and why.
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