The state of the 3D printing industry

While 3D printing has long been on the radar, recent years have seen the technology capture public and media attention in a big way.

Companies the world over are now employing this revolutionary technology to quickly and efficiently build a vast range of products and parts. So how are 3D printer companies faring in this fast moving market?

As the profile of 3D printing has risen, one of the most exciting stories has been the various industries using the technology. Indeed, 2014 saw the announcement of plans to 3D print a liver. For many, the assumption would be that any company involved in such a hyped technology would be thriving on the markets. But in actual fact, the picture is more complicated than that. Here we take a look at three 3D printing companies available via shares trading in the UK.

3D Systems

The first company to embrace 3D printing was 3D Systems, whose CTO Chuck Hull is credited with inventing the technology. It is also the proud owner of 43rd place in Forbes’ 2014 list of US small companies.

Despite that pedigree, 2014 has been a dismal year for 3D System, sliding from a high of over $96 at the beginning of the year to just over $30 at the end. The company’s current share price is back at spring 2013 levels, having retraced almost all of the gains seen in a healthy 2013. Whether the company can turn things around remains to be seen, but 2015 must see a return to growth.

Materialise

A manufacturer of 3D printers for various industries, Belgian business Materialise’s share price has been in a fairly steady – if marginal – decline since its emergence in June 2014.

However, the company is set to simplify the 3D printing process, with the company’s founder and CEO, Fried Vancraen, recently announcing a partnership with 3D printer manufacturer Leapfrog. After a high of $14.46 in August 2014, the stock is currently trading at 9.13. That is a disastrous performance by any means: but 2015 needs to be a very fruitful year for this innovative company.

Arc Group Worldwide

Founded in 1987, Arc Group Worldwide aims to offer companies the latest and most efficient 3D printing machines. The company looked likely to have a prosperous 2014, with a high of 23.74 in September taking away the  lows of $2 shares in 2013. The company’s stock is currently trading at around $9, though, well off its earlier peak and at a loss for the year.

However, according to the company’s recently reported earnings its revenue totalled $28.70 million; a figure that surpassed the $27.93 million estimated by many. There is plenty of hope for ARC Group Worldwide, with the company recently claiming 84th place on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500, a list of the 500 fastest growing North American companies from sectors including technology and media.

2015, then, looks set to be a pivotal year for 3D printing as a technology. Over the past 12 months, leading lights and new pretenders alike struggled on the stock markets. Consumers and investors questioned whether 3D printing was as revolutionary as many had claimed. But it would be foolish to write off 3D printing businesses yet: there is a sense that they are just getting started.

Mozbot Team