Supply chain issues have given the 3D printing industry a major opportunity.
3D printing is a promising technology platform. Many have long dismissed it as a mere hobby, a niche for a few people with too much time on their hands. In recent years, however, 3D printing has rapidly gained commercial adoption. Now industries including manufacturing, education and health care are starting to incorporate the unique versatility of 3D printing into their workflows. Furthermore, the pandemic disrupted supply chains, elevating the utility of on-site manufacturing options for key parts. As commercial adoption of 3D printing grows, the potential marketplace for stocks in this industry grows with it. Investors may have written it off, given that the flagship exchange-traded fund, 3D Printing ETF (ticker: PRNT), has dramatically underperformed the S&P 500 and tech stocks in recent years and the first part of 2022 hasn’t been kind to 3D printing stocks. However, 3D printing could still disrupt manufacturing and become mainstream over the long term. That’d be great news for these six 3D printing stocks to buy.
3D Systems Corp. (DDD)
3D Systems is one of the pioneers in the industry. Chuck Hull, a co-founder of the company, was one of the inventors of the stereolithography 3D printer and earned a patent for it in 1986. 3D Systems formed shortly thereafter and has been publicly traded for more than 30 years. For much of that span, the stock failed to produce returns. However, in 2012, 3D printing caught the public’s fancy and shares increased 10-fold. Shares faded after that before spiking at about $48 per share in late 2021. DDD is now trading at just over $10 with a price-earnings ratio, or P/E, of about 5, meaning you’re only paying $5 per dollar of annual earnings. For comparison, Tesla Inc. (TSLA) investors are paying about $90 per share of earnings. 3D Systems has built a large business, but it has not been consistently profitable. 3D Systems has a well-known brand and a large existing customer base, but it’s still looking for a big breakthrough that will allow it to take the next step in its corporate evolution.
Straumann Holding AG (SAUHY)
Straumann is a European firm and one of the leaders in turning the potential of 3D printing into real-world results. Straumann is a long-running supplier to the dental industry. It provides goods such as implants, biomaterials, orthodontic equipment and dental software to clients. Dentistry is rapidly taking up digital services for a variety of its most common treatments. Straumann specifically has built a 3D printing system that lets dentists simply scan a patient’s mouth. Then the 3D printer can work out exactly the implant needed and produce it right in the office. This greatly aids a dentist’s workflow, allowing them to treat more patients and offer more personalized service. Straumann is a large company, so 3D printing is far from the only driver of the firm’s commercial success. Regardless, it’s one of the innovators in transforming 3D printing from the realm of the theoretical to the practical.
Stratasys Ltd. (SSYS)
Stratasys is another firm directly involved in the design and manufacture of 3D printing equipment. Revenue was up for the first quarter versus the same period in 2021, and the company reports a strong balance sheet with more than $475 million in cash and equivalents. The company serves several industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical and dental, and recently launched the fashion industry’s first direct-to-textile 3D printer. If the golden age of 3D printing is about to kick off, Stratasys is positioned to be one of the winners.
Autodesk Inc. (ADSK)
Autodesk is a software-as-a-service company focused on graphic design. It offers a pick-and-shovel way to play the 3D printing industry. After all, manufacturing firms need software to design and coordinate their 3D printing operations. Autodesk has several offerings in this field. Fusion360 is cloud-based computer-aided design software for product design. Autodesk’s NetFabb is a software package for additive manufacturing and design. And the list goes on. Autodesk isn’t a pure play on 3D printing, as its software is also used for many other purposes. However, unlike most 3D printing companies, Autodesk is already strongly profitable and has a huge stable client base. This makes Autodesk one of the safest ways to invest in 3D printing.
Proto Labs Inc. (PRLB)
Like Autodesk, Proto Labs does more than just 3D printing. It also provides injection-molding services, CNC machining and sheet metal fabrication. The company has grown its revenue from $126 million in 2012, the year the stock had its IPO, to more than $488 million in 2021. In 2021, it acquired the online manufacturing platform 3D Hubs, creating what Proto Labs has called the world’s largest digital manufacturing platform. Like other 3D printing stocks, PRLB stock has floundered of late. It spiked at more than $200 per share in early 2021 and has been on a downward trend since, but things could turn around for the company if it continues to expand its customer base.
Ansys Inc. (ANSS)
Like Autodesk and Proto Labs, Ansys is far from a pure play on 3D printing. Ansys is a wide-reaching software firm focusing on engineering and simulation. Ansys generates nearly $2 billion per year in revenue and is reasonably profitable. The company already dominates many niche applications and has a large and sticky customer base. It recently announced the acquisition of Motor Design Ltd. in a move to strengthen Ansys’ electric machine design services. In the software realm, the company offers 3D printing simulation software to help firms with their additive manufacturing processes. The software covers three stages of the printing process: design, prep and printing. While Ansys is large enough that its 3D printing business won’t make or break the firm, it could give the company a big tail wind as the industry goes more mainstream.
6 of the best 3D printing stocks to buy now:
— 3D Systems Corp. (DDD)
— Straumann Holding (SAUHY)
— Stratasys Ltd. (SSYS)
— Autodesk Inc. (ADSK)
— Proto Labs Inc. (PRLB)
— Ansys Inc. (ANSS)
More from U.S. News
Update 05/26/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.