Growth projections for the 3D printing industry are positive, and the technological applications seem endless. But investors need to be wary as bigger companies begin to enter the market.
What is 3D printing?
3D printing is the process of creating a three-dimensional object from a digital model. The process is also called additive manufacturing because objects are created by adding layer upon layer of material until the object is complete.
3D printing is a relatively new technology that’s only just begun to secure a foothold in modern manufacturing technology. The first 3D printer was released in 1987 by 3D Systems. Today the process is used across many industries, including aerospace tool manufacturing, auto parts, robotic structures, industrial tooling, healthcare prosthetics and product design.
How to invest in 3D printing
You can invest in 3D printing by purchasing shares of individual 3D printing stocks or by buying into an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that invests in 3D printing. Here’s a look at the process:
- Pick a stock trading platform. Online trading platforms are plentiful, so carefully compare your options by features, fees and trader feedback before you commit.
- Open your account. Be prepared to provide your ID, Social Security number and bank account information.
- Fund your account. To invest, you’ll need to transfer funds to your brokerage account. Some platforms let you get started with as little as $1, while others may impose a minimum deposit requirement.
- Search for stocks. Pinpoint stocks by ticker symbol or use a stock screener to narrow down your options through various metrics, like price, industry and more.
- Submit an order. Once you’ve found a stock or ETF you’re interested in, specify how much of it you wish to purchase and submit your order.
- Monitor your investments. Track the performance of your portfolio by logging on to your account.
3D printing stocks
Ready to invest in the versatility of 3D tech? Keep your eye on the following stocks. Select a company to learn more about what they do and how their stock performs, including market capitalization, the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, price/earnings-to-growth (PEG) ratio and dividend yield. While this list includes a selection of the most well-known and popular stocks, it doesn't include every stock available.
What ETFs track the 3D printing category?
The Total 3D-Printing Index contains exchange-listed companies within the US and globally that are involved in the manufacturing and development of 3D printing technology. There is only one ETF that tracks this index: the 3D Printing ETF (PRNT). The fund is managed by Ark Investment Management.
Why invest in the 3D printing category?
3D printing is versatile and growing at a rapid pace.
Like many sub-industries in the technology sector, 3D printing is a growing trend. According to Statista, the global 3D printing market is worth $16 billion in 2020 — but by 2024, this figure is expected to rise to $40.8 billion, more than doubling its value in as few as four years.
The 3D printing industry’s popularity is partially driven by the technology’s versatility and adaptability. Its applications are nearly endless, and new materials are in constant development.
The more materials that can be used for 3D printing, the greater the technology’s practical applications. And in turn, this further encourages the development of new 3D printing methods.
It looks like this once-niche sub-industry will only continue to grow, and investors have the opportunity to support potentially groundbreaking technology — an exciting prospect for any portfolio.
What unique risks does the 3D printing category face?
The 3D printing category faces similar challenges as other rapidly growing industries in the tech sector: competition and volatility.
As this software continues to take off, more and more companies will enter the 3D manufacturing race. And beyond the ferocious competition among startups vying for capital and influence, investors will also need to be wary of well-established names — like HP — entering the space. As larger companies begin to adopt this technology and invest in their own 3D printing programs, the viability of smaller tech startups may be affected.
Long-term growth projections for the 3D printing industry are largely positive, but investors should know the journey won’t be linear. Before purchasing 3D printing stocks, be prepared for volatility.
Compare trading platforms
To invest in 3D printing, you’ll need a brokerage account. Compare your platform options below.
*Signup bonus information updated weekly.
3D printing offers investors the opportunity to support groundbreaking research, but the industry is too new to promise stable returns.
Review your brokerage account options across multiple platforms to find the account that best meets your needs.
Frequently asked questions
What types of materials are used in 3D printing?
3D printing materials include a wide variety of plastics and metals, including nylon, resin, stainless steel and aluminum.
What type of software is used in 3D printing?
3D printing is compatible with CAD design software, including Solidworks, Rhinoceros, Fusion 360, Onshape, TinkerCAD and more.
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