June 21, 2012      

Robotics Business Review has covered 3-D printers from their use prototyping robots and producing autonomous drones to the commercialized MakerBot and more artistic, furniture-printing robot.

Now, we bring to you the two 3-D printing companies creating so much buzz that Seeking Alpha thinks Apple should consider buying them out.

SEEKING ALPHA?The 3-D printing industry has grown almost 9% a year over the last ten years and is expected to reach “$3.1 billion worldwide by 2016 and $5.2 billion by 2020.”

One of the most important players in the 3-D printing industry, and a company that Apple should buy, is 3D Systems Corp.

According to Yahoo’s Business Summary:

3D Systems Corporation, through its subsidiaries, engages in the design, development, manufacture, marketing, and servicing of 3D printers and related products, print materials, and services. The company’s principle print engines comprise stereolithography, selective laser sintering, multi-jet modeling, film transfer imaging, selective laser melting, and plastic jet printers. Its 3D printers convert data input from computer-aided design software or 3D scanning and sculpting devices to produce physical objects from engineered plastic, metal, and composite print material.

3D Systems has a market capitalization of $1.5 billion. For the first quarter of 2012, on a non-GAAP year over year basis, revenues increased 63%, gross profit grew 67%, and earnings per share rose 47%.

They expect full year 2012 revenue to be in the range of $330-360 million and non-GAAP EPS to be from $1.00 to $1.25 (see April 2012 Investor Presentation).

3D Systems’ balance sheet has taken a slight hit recently due to acquisitions, but these acquisitions will help them increase profitability and maintain dominance in the future.

The stock trades at a P/E of 44.93. Although the P/E is high and the stock price has doubled this year, I think the forward P/E of 23.14 represents value for a company with a bright future.

Names You Should Know

Two of 3D System’s subsidiaries that Apple should be most interested in are Cubify and Z Corporation.

Cubify’s Cube can be purchased for $1,299, uses Fusion Deposition Modeling and is designed primarily for personal/home use. They already have an online marketplace that allows artists to sell their designs to consumers who can replicate them (designs) at home.

Z Corp.’s printers make use of Selective Laser Sintering. Unfortunately, these printers cost anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000. Also, as you can see from the video above, it is a bit messy and can take some work to get the object ready for use. However, I believe that over time, this technology will become cheaper and more streamlined.

We agree with Matt Cliderman that this disruptive technology will become ubiquitus in our personal lives relatively soon. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at additive manufacturing from Robotics Business Review coming soon.