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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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
To invest in 3D printing, you’ll need a brokerage account. Compare your platform options below.
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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.
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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