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How Investors Can Join the 3-D Printing Revolution

Bernice Napach
Daily Ticker

Creating a solid, three-dimensional object from a printer sounds like science fiction but it’s very real. 3-D printing has created prosthetic legs, racing-car parts, customized mobile phones and more.

“These were experimental technologies for decades and now they’re commercial,” says Josh Brown, vice president of Fusion Analytics. “And the applications essentially cut across every vertical from health care to defense to aerospace to manufacturing to oil and gas. There is nothing that’s not going to benefit from some of these newly commercialized 3-D technologies.”

Investors can benefit too. There are three publicly traded 3-D technology companies: 3D Systems (DDD), Stratasys (SSYS) and Proto Labs (PRLB) and all are trading at record highs.

“All three are profitable companies which is very different from the dot.com revolution,” Brown tells The Daily Ticker.

He owns ”very small amounts” of these three stocks and cautions that “they’re really hard to buy because the valuations are outrageous.”

These stocks are not meant for value investors, Brown notes, and they do come with considerable risk. But the upside potential outweighs the downside liabilities.

Related: Equities, New Tech and Emerging Markets Debt Is the Way to Go in 2013: Josh Brown

“To not be paying attention to the sector just because the stocks are really expensive is a huge mistake…because of how [these companies] are going to change so many [manufacturing] processes around the world," he adds.

That will eventually change as 3-D technologies become more commonplace. For example, 3D Systems already has a product for the home that costs about $1,300. Once the price falls, more 3-D printers will be bought for the home, providing an affordable convenience that consumers haven’t experienced before, says Brown.

“At a certain point if you break a spatula you can make it home rather than go to the store," he says. "That could be revolutionary.”

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