3-D Printing Could Lead To A U.S. Manufacturing Resurgence

Today I am going to look at the 3-D printing sector, a sector that is enjoying a lot of investor enthusiasm right now. I am going to focus on a new technology that could justify this investor appetite for stocks in the sector. Much of the growth forecast for the 3-D sector is from parts printing. Revenue in the sector is estimated to grow into a $7 billion industry by 2019. The real growth driver however will come from printed electronics, which none of the players in the 3-D sector can do right now. Xerox Corporation (XRX) has developed a technology that could literally explode the upward sales trajectory of 3-D printing in the coming years, and in turn help lead to a manufacturing resurgence in the U.S. It is called printable flexible electronics and XRX has estimated that it will grow from a $1 billion per year industry to $45 billion by 2016.

I have not seen XRX talked about much with regards to 3-D printing even though it pioneered the sector in the 1970s. When 3-D stocks are discussed it is the usual candidates:

Stratasys Ltd. (SSYS)

3D Systems Corporation (DDD)

The ExOne Company, (XONE)

XONE, a recent IPO, has seen its shares gain 50%. This is an indication of how investor appetites are high for 3-D stocks right now. It is a smaller player in the sector but it too is growing sales. Two other companies that could have a big impact in the sector in the coming years are Xerox and iRobot, (IRBT).

In a recent article the New York Times went over the new technology that XRX has developed that could change manufacturing in the U.S. in a massive way. The technology, developed by PARC (the same division that invented the graphical mouse based operating system that inspired both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs) allows the “printing” of micro circuitry, something that has alluded all of the 3-D printer players thus far. Currently, chips are printed on large wafers that hold hundreds of dies, each with the same electronic circuitry. The wafers are then cut into individual dies and then assembled on printed circuit boards.

(click to enlarge)

XRX has developed a laser printer that will place tens or hundreds of thousands of chiplets, the size of a grain of sand, on a surface at the exact right location. The chiplets can be microprocessors and computer memory as well as other circuits needed to create complete computers. They can also be MEMS, that perform tasks like sensing heat, pressure or motion. This new system that XRX has developed could be used to build computer systems or be part of a 3-D printing system that prints objects with computing printed right in. Currently, 3-D systems can only print a toy car. With XRX it can print a remote control car with all the computing and electronics needed to make it run. This small advancement will be a massive boon to manufacturing in the U.S. By replacing the circuit boards, this new technology could dramatically shrink the supply chain that spans the globe and employs hundreds of thousands of workers, many of them in Asia. Using laser printers, Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center may one day be able to create desktop manufacturing plants that use chiplets to “print” the circuitry for a wide array of electronic devices.

This new technology from XRX could be great for companies like DDD and SSYS. SSYS offers desktop 3-D printers for idea and design development, a range of systems for rapid prototyping, and production systems for direct digital manufacturing. It is one of the leading stocks that come to mind when mentioning 3-D printing.

Below is one of SSYS’s largest manufacturing printers.

It can print almost anything one can think of. NASA engineers are using 3-D printing to build the next generation rover to support humans exploring other worlds, such as asteroids and eventually Mars. However, one thing these printers cannot do, yet, is print electronics. The SSYS printer can print a robot’s arms and legs and joints but it cannot print the electronics that run it. Another company looking to change this is iRobot. This is another stock one does not hear mentioned when it comes to 3-D printing, but it too is getting into this hot new sector. On January 23, IRBT filed a patent for an autonomous all-in-one 3-D printing, milling, drilling and finishing robot.

(click to enlarge)

The new system includes a fabrication machine that fuses additive and subtractive manufacturing with component placement to provide completely autonomous all-in-one product manufacturing. The fabrication machine may be used in factories, by individuals or the military in the field for producing and repairing products. The processes, including FDM and Robocasting, will allow for products made up of numerous materials, including ABS, polycarbonate, silicone rubbers, urethane rubbers, and plastics, and low melting temperature metals, as well as combinations of these materials. This would greatly help in the further adoption of 3-D printing in the manufacturing sector.

A quick look at XRX financials make this stock an even more compelling buy for long-term investors. With a forward PE of only 7.55 XRX can be considered the cheapest play in the sector. In the most recent year XRX generated $1.88 billion in free cash flow. XRX also pays a 2.57% annual dividend, an excellent addition to a stock being held long term. As you can see XRX has a solid business right now without even projecting possible revenues from the new 3-D technology. While the upside growth in the sector will be split among many companies, even a small piece of the potential sales could have big bottom line implications for XRX.

Of course we must also delve into the risk factors associated with investing in such a new sector. When I look for stocks to invest in I look for at least two plays in the sector. First I look for a new company/entrant with a lower share cost, higher stock price and a possibility of a stock split down the road. SSYS falls into this category. The other type of stock I look for is a more “mature” company in the sector, if one exists. With 3-D printing stocks, I believe I have found both investing criteria. XRX is without a doubt a mature company. As mentioned above the company posts strong profits, cash flow and a nice dividend yield. While SSYS brings the risk aspect to the sector play, I also have a mature dividend slow moving stock to compensate for that. Also, the possibility that the new 3-D technology XRX has developed could dramatically change the sector soon, is a great bonus.

As for sector risk there is of course large risk in the 3-D sector. The current pricing of 3-D printers is still sky high. The current euphoria in the sector is being driven by the price declines of the at-home printers for individuals. Most models have started to come down in price over the last year with an average cost now under $2,000. This is still very expensive but reminiscent of the pricing seen years ago when paper printers first hit the market. This has garnered much of the attention but I feel this is NOT the market that will make the sector. It will be manufacturing. The key to the sector booming over the next decade, and the stocks continuing higher, is adoption of 3-D printing in manufacturing. The new technology of XRX could be key to this next phase in the 3-D sector growth. If however, the adoption rate of XRX’s new technology is slower than expected, or fails to occur, then the risk will be that 3-D printing remains a niche only for those who can afford it. However, even with this risk I believe the opportunity for large gains in the coming years will be well rewarded.

The next few decades in the U.S. may very well be called the renaissance of U.S. manufacturing thanks to 3-D printing. 3-D printing is a disruptive technology that seems poised to change the manufacturing sector in a large way. Currently the surge in 3-D printing is in the parts manufacturing segment. While this area has tremendous upside it pales in comparison to printed electronics. XRX appears to have developed a technology that will explode the 3-D printing sector in the coming years. iRobot is also working on allowing an expansion of the market. Investor appetites are high for 3-D stocks right now and it seems as though that enthusiasm is warranted. XRX , the boring old stock, may end up being the best way to play this sector in the coming years. With its low PE, decent dividend yield and very exciting electronics printing technology, long-term investors should reap very nice rewards in the coming years. Even if the 3-D revolution does not come to fruition, the fundamentals in XRX make it a strong long-term investment with large upside if its 3-D business grows.

Disclosure: I am long SSYS. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article. (More…)

5 Stocks That May Make Huge Moves Soon

Be forewarned, this article isn’t for the faint of heart. I’m going to be introducing five stocks that could make huge moves during this earnings season.

But whether those moves are up or down is hard to tell. The reason these stocks are liable to make such moves is because they are heavily shorted. Major news announcements usually have an exaggerated effect on heavily shorted stocks, and earnings announcements definitely qualify as a “major announcement.”

I’ve scoured the markets for the most popular shorted stocks three times before. The first  time, my five selections changed price an average of 16% after earnings were announced. The second time, the effect was even more pronounced, with the average stock moving 19%! And in early 2013, the five stocks I chose made an average 13% move.

Here are this quarter’s five stocks to look out for:


% of Float Short 

Earnings Date 

Expected Revenue

Expected EPS

Heckmann (NYSE: HEK  )


May 3-10

$167 million


3D Systems (NYSE: DDD  )


April 30

$102 million


InterOil (NYSE: IOC  )


May 13-20

$331 million


Herbalife (NYSE: HLF  )


April 29

$1.1 billion


Research In Motion (NASDAQ: BBRY  )


June 24

$3.3 billion


Sources: finviz.com, E*TRADE, Thompson Reuters.

This company, which will soon be changing its name to Nuverra Environmental Solutions, is in the business of building out the infrastructure necessary to meet the water needs of energy extracting companies — especially those using fracking techniques.

In order to do this, the company has had to spend a lot of money up front to cement its niche-leading position. But that kind of spending, combined with the uncertainty of energy commodity prices, leads investors to doubt Heckmann’s viability. Personally, I thought last quarter’s earnings were great, and I own shares of the company’s stock in my own personal holdings.

Like Heckmann, InterOil is involved in an industry with a volatile variable at play: energy commodity prices. The Australian company performs all of its oil and gas extraction in the island nation of Papua New Guinea.

One of the key aspects that has investors worried, along with the brief tenure of the company in general, is the fact that it seems to be at odds with Papua New Guinea’s energy minister on whether or not an LNG export facility will even be built by InterOil.

In general, I’m also wary of a company going into a country where large sections of the population still enjoy indigenous lifestyles. Tribes hold 97% of the land, and infighting over rights to that land has been bubbling up lately. 

If you want to see stock geeks getting all hot and bothered about a stock, you should follow Herbalife. This nutritional supplement company has been in the forefront lately, with Carl Ichan arguing that Herbalife is a solid investment, and William Ackman betting heavily against it.

More waves were recently made when KPMG had to withdraw from its role as the company’s auditor when it was revealed one of its employees was giving confidential information to someone who was trading in the stock. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how management handles the situation in its conference call next week.

Research In Motion
The company behind the Blackberry smartphone was really counting on its new Z10 phone and Blackberry 10 operating system to blow people away. Apparently, that hasn’t been the case.

The company claims that the reports of mass returns of its new phone aren’t true. Although we’ll have to wait until late June to find out, my money certainly won’t be behind this company.

3D Systems
The key piece of information to understand here is that this company is in the business of making 3-D printers. These printers have mind-boggling potential for the future, and that has helped the company’s shares shoot up more than 250% last year.

Since then, however, shares have cooled off a bit as earnings produced a slight disappointment and Citron Research came out with a bearish report on the company. While the company’s earnings will effect how the stock reacts, the company’s outlook will be just as important. Over the long term, however, I’m still very much a believer in the company, as it’s a member of my “World’s Greatest Growth Portfolio.”

To help investors decide whether the future of additive manufacturing is bright enough to justify the lofty price tag on the company’s shares, The Motley Fool has compiled a premium research report on whether 3D Systems is a buy right now. In our report, we take a close look at 3D Systems’ opportunities, risks, and critical factors for growth. You’ll also find reasons to buy or sell the stock today. To start reading, simply click here now for instant access.

Catch More Fish

An automatic hook setter for a standard ice fishing rod.

This device dramatically increases your hookup rate, by setting the hook automatically when the fish takes the bait.

It’s also safer for fish than conventional means if you’re practicing catch and release as it doesn’t give the fish the chance to swallow the hook, you’ll get more hookups in the mouth.

Once triggered, you lift the rod out of the holder and you have a conventional rod and reel to bring in your fish.

The hook setting process is, the fish tugs on the bait, pulling the line
which releases the zigzag catch at the end of the rod. The rod which was spring loaded by being bent, now goes straight, pulling on the line at speed and setting the hook.

This thing makes use of the wonderful Plastic T-Slot by ProtoParadigm for the legs.

Some features:

1. Collapsable with quick release clamps, so easy to transport

2. Will work with the reel handle on either side of the rod.

3. Tested, it really does work.

4. The catch can also be used for shore fishing with a regular rod
and rod holder.

5. Very cheap to replicate !

I highly recommend combining this with “Fish-On Now!” thingiverse.com/thing:53840 so that you know when a fish has been caught and to avoid tiring the fish.

WARNING / DISCLAIMER: Do not place your face over this device, if it goes off accidently or a fish comes along whilst setting up you could injure your face or eyes. Also you can break your rod if apply too much tension. Use at your own risk.

Also, check your local regulations to see if automatic hook setters are allowed. To my knowledge most do, but Ontario and Minnesota do not.

2 x 6-32 Nut
2 x 6-32 x 2 inch countersunk machine screw
2ft fishing line >= 8lb test

Customizable Lithopane

Click “Open in Customizer” to turn the image of your choice into a Lithopane! We used the Mona Lisa, but you could use any photo you want. The Lithopane tool generates a 3D model that looks like a rough terrain map.

Download the file, print it on your MakerBot Desktop 3D Printer, and you’ve got a picture perfect pane to hang on your window.

Three cheers for the lithopane pioneers on Thingiverse, such as cymon and pp3dpNL! For more information on this old art form, check out the Wikipedia article here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithophane

Nike+ Activity Application

Nike+ data visualizer application, generated as a part of the MakerBot Hackathon, April 6-7, 2013.

The application reads your Nike+ exercise data and generates a Customizable Thing containing your data. You can then Customize your Thing to add your name and scale the model to the size you’d like to print. At the moment, we visualize one week of your data.

The generated Thing has STLs for printing in a single color (use the STL named ‘both’) and dualstrusion (merge the ‘left’ and ‘right’ STLs).

Developers are Robert Carlsen (http://www.thingiverse.com/technophobe), Sune Kaae and Laird Popkin (http://www.thingiverse.com/laird).

3D printable bottle and screw cap

3D printable bottle and screw cap
3D printable bottle and screw cap
A small bottle and screw cap that you can print on your 3D printer.

• Size: 95 x 95 x 40
• Inner volume: 139 cm3
• Plastic volume (with cap): 20,5 cm3
• Thread: Screw cap uses same thread as common soda bottles