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Investing in 3D printing stocks

There’s promising growth over the next five years, but volatility is likely.


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Closeup of 3D printer

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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.

What is 3D printing and how is it used?

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, and today the process is used across many industries including aerospace tool manufacturing, auto parts, robotic structures, industrial tooling, healthcare prosthetics and product design.

Why invest in the 3D printing category?

3D printing is versatile and growing at a rapid pace.

Like many subindustries 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 on 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 subindustry 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. When purchasing 3D printing stocks, be prepared for volatility.

3D printing stocks

Ready to invest in the versatility of 3D tech? Keep your eye on the stocks below. You can purchase stocks on exchanges in Canada and around the world. Not all Canadian brokers offer access to international exchanges, but two brokers that do are Questrade and Interactive Brokers.

  • G6 Materials Corp. (TSXV: GGG)
  • PyroGenesis Canada Inc. (TSX: PYR)
  • Tinkerine Studios Ltd. (TSXV: TTD)
  • 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE: DDD)
  • Proto Labs, Inc. (NYSE: PRLB)
  • HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ)

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 (BATS: PRNT). The fund is managed by ARK Investment Management.

Canadian investors can access ARK investments through Emerge Canada Inc., which offers a similar fund — the Emerge ARK Autonomous Tech and Robotics ETF (NEO: EAUT) that tracks a number of emerging technologies like 3D printing, robotics, deep learning AI and autonomous vehicles.

A beginner’s guide to exchange traded funds (ETFs)

Compare trading platforms

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

Name Product Available asset types Stock Fee Option Fee Account Fee ETF Transaction Cost
Wealthsimple Trade
Stocks, ETFs
Get a $25 bonus when you open a Wealthsimple Trade account and deposit and trade at least $100.
Interactive Brokers
Stocks, Bonds, Options, ETFs, Currencies, Futures
Min. $1.00, Max. 0.5% of trade value
$1.50 min. per order
$0 (if monthly commissions are greater than or equal to US$10.00)
Min. $1.00, Max. 0.5% of trade value
Access market data 24 hours a day, six days a week and invest in global stocks, options, futures, currencies, bonds and funds from one single account.
Qtrade Investor
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, IPOs
$6.95 - $8.75
$6.95 - $8.75 + $1.25 per contract
$0 if conditions met, else $25/quarter
$0 - $8.75
Qtrade Investor offers low trading commissions and an easy-to-use platform with access to powerful tools and a wide selection of investment options. Trade 100 ETFs free of charge and thousands more for $8.75 or lower.
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities, Precious Metals
$9.95 + $1 per contract
Opt for self-directed investing and save on fees or get a pre-built portfolio and take some of the guesswork out.
Scotia iTRADE
Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities
$9.99 + $1.25 contract ($4.99 + $1.25 contract if completed 150 trades or more a quarter)
$9.99 ($4.99 if completed 150 trades or more a quarter)
Buy, sell and trade ETFs, Equities, Options and more with competitive commissions.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

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

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Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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