3D printing still blows my mind.
Having been around for decades, 3D printing technologies turned a corner when companies like MakerBot brought microwave-sized 3D printers to desktops.
Full of promise, the reward was never fully realized because the average Joe was a bit too average to sufficiently harness and utilize the technology.
The hype faded. But the industry keeps trudging along.
Perhaps now is a chance to invest before a new wave of innovation brings 3D printing back into the spotlight.
My brother is currently 3D printing prototypes for a product he’s — for lack of a better term — inventing. When I last spoke with him, I asked about the durability of the 3D-printed prototype versus his vision of the final product.
He was clear: 3D printing could not produce a viable end-use product at a reasonable cost compared to conventional manufacturing.
For starters, the prototype is some type of composite resin plastic stuff. The final product probably needs to be aluminum.
In fact, metal additive manufacturing has recently gained traction in the 3D printing universe. It began as “printing metal” by adding metal additives into a sort of mold. More recently, a process called sintering will take 3D printing in metal (as well as thermoplastics) to a new level.
But as my brother said, it’s just not cost effective. Yet.
Needless to say, the industry will keep innovating. So, I have my eye on a mainstay in 3D printing: Stratasys (SSYS).
Stratasys is big. But it’s adapted to industry trends. It developed GrabCAD, an online system and community to bridge the skills gap for the average Joe who wants to get serious. It offers options to print stuff that’s more “traditional,” as well as solutions to print end-use products in bulk.
And by seeking out partnerships with major manufacturers including Airbus and Siemens, Stratasys has endless opportunities to expand its businesses that provide parts, services and expertise.
Wherever this industry goes, Stratasys is sure to be there with quality solutions.