Category Archives: 3D Systems

3D Systems: Determining Direction

3D Systems (DDD) had a rough ride in the last two months. Its 42% plunge from all-time highs followed a disappointing earnings release. 3D Systems appears to have bottomed in mid-March, as it was dragged higher by the competing Stratasys (SSYS), which I noted in my previous article. The company will announce earnings on April 30th, and it will certainly make a determining impact on short and intermediate-term price direction.

Recent developments

The sentiment surrounding 3D printing stocks has changed for the better recently. Upbeat earnings reports from Stratasys and ExOne (XONE) helped to put a stop on the declining price of 3D Systems. Meanwhile, the company is making efforts in expanding its reseller network. Three deals were announced recently, and the company expanded its presence in Turkey and Japan. The latest deal was with Hawk Ridge Systems, and gives the company increased exposure in the United States and Canada. Hawk Ridge is recognized as the number one worldwide SolidWorks reseller.

Last week the company announced the immediate availability of Geomagic Design, a new suite of affordable CAD design solutions. 3D Systems acquired Geomagic in late February. Geomagic design is available in three versions, with the lowest price for the Geomagic Design Personal starting at $199, and the most advanced expert version starting at $20,500. These tools enable mechanical CAD design, allowing engineers, makers, consumers and hobbyists to go from concept to manufacturing.

Earnings preview

Analysts expect first quarter earnings to rise 23.5% to $0.21 from $0.17 last year, on a 30.4% increase in revenue. There were no changes in expectations in the last sixty days, except for the decrease of consensus estimates for 2014, from $1.39 to $1.29.

In the fourth quarter conference call, the management said it expects further increase in gross profit margins. Integrated materials revenue as a percentage of total materials revenue increased from 30% in 2009 to 63% in 2012. Integrated materials have the highest gross margin, and the trend of increased share of total materials is expected to continue, driving the gross margin higher toward the expected target of 56%. Current gross profit margin is 51.2%.

The management also expects consumer activities to become a significant revenue driver in the second part of the year, so we should wait a couple of quarters to see the breakdown of this segment, as it was promised in the latest conference call.

Short interest

Short interest continued to rise in the two latest reporting periods, from 24 million shares at the end of February to 26.5 million shares at the end of March. The short interest as a percentage of the free float now stands at 31.2%. With such a high short interest, I expect significant volatility after the earnings announcement. If the company delivers above expectations and gives an upbeat guidance, we might see a significant short squeeze and a sharp rise in price. The opposite is true if the company fails to deliver, and an example of investor disappointment can be seen looking at the post-earnings reaction two months ago.

Source for data: Nasdaq.com

Price Action

3D Systems is up 18% since the mid-March bottom. It failed to close above the 50 day moving average line, which serves as resistance at the moment. Price action has been constructive recently, with more volume on up days, and lower volume on down days. The broad market is getting weaker, and that might pressure the share price. A decisive break above the 50 day moving average line on above average volume would be very positive for the stock. I suspect investors and traders will wait for the earnings announcement, and that trading will be subdued until then.

(click to enlarge)

Conclusion

3D Systems has continued its efforts to expand the reseller network, domestic and abroad, with increased presence in Turkey, Japan and North America. Earnings and revenue growth are expected to continue, and the announcement at the end of April will provide investors with new information about the results of the recent efforts, and determine the direction of the share price.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. 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…)

Cool: DARPA self-destructing tech & 4D-printed tech that ‘shapeshifts’

As reported by computerworld.com

By 

April 18, 2013 2:27 PM EDT

With the rate of innovation, it’s challenging to keep up with emerging technology. Although the price of 3D printers is coming down, most households don’t have one yet. So it was surprising to come across news that makes it appear almost as if 3D printing is old news. Meanwhile DARPA wants self-destructing tech a bit like messages in Mission Impossible. A potential way to go about this might be shapeshifting 4D-printed technology.

DARPA — Your device will poof in 5 seconds

When you purchase electronics, you hope it lasts longer than the warranty. In fact, you probably hope it lasts until it’s practically obsolete and has been replaced with a newer, faster and all-around better product. What if electronics simply disappeared when no longer needed . . . as in poof, dissolving into the environment? Those wild DARPA scientists created a Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR)Self-destructing tech, DARPA VAPR program earlier this year “with the aim of revolutionizing the state of the art in transient electronics or electronics capable of dissolving into the environment around them.”

In a post called, “This web feature will disappear in 5 seconds,” DARPA explained that electronics used on the battlefield are often scattered around and could possibly be captured and reverse-engineered by the enemy “to compromise DoD’s strategic technological advantage.” The electronics still need to be rugged and maintain functionality, but “when triggered, be able to degrade partially or completely into their surroundings. Once triggered to dissolve, these electronics would be useless to any enemy who might come across them.”

DARPA program manager Alicia Jackson said, “The commercial off-the-shelf, or COTS, electronics made for everyday purchases are durable and last nearly forever. DARPA is looking for a way to make electronics that last precisely as long as they are needed. The breakdown of such devices could be triggered by a signal sent from command or any number of possible environmental conditions, such as temperature.”Self-destructing Mission Impossible-like technology

How could anyone pull off DARPA’s James Bond-esque self-destructing tech that would more or less vaporize when triggered? The Self-Assembly Lab at MIT may be heading in that direction with shapeshifting technology, otherwise called 4D printing.

3D printing is old news: Welcome to 4D printing & shapeshifting tech

3D printing is exciting and has become increasingly more sophisticated, but what if a 3D-printed object could morph into another object? Computer scientist, MIT Department of Architecture faculty member and TED senior fellow Skylar Tibbits is working in collaboration with Stratasys Inc. on 3D printing with a twist; the goal is to make it more adaptive and more responsive so it can change from one thing into another thing.

During a TED talk called “The Emergence of 4D Printing,” Tibbits stated, “The idea behind 4D printing is that you take multi-material 3D printing — so you can deposit multiple materials — and you add a new capability, which is transformation, that right off the bed, the parts can transform from one shape to another shape directly on their own. And this is like robotics without wires or motors. So you completely print this part, and it can transform into something else.”

A 3D-printed object would have a “program embedded directly into the materials” that would allow it “to go from one state to another.” Describing a potential 4D printed object in a CNN video, Tibbets said it has invented within it a “potential energy, that activation, so it can transform on its own.” He gave potential environmental activation examples of water, heat, vibration, sound or pressure. Tibbets suggested that 4D printing could have practical applications in fashion, or perhaps in sports equipment, and in “things that need to respond as the conditions are changing.”

If you can’t take eight and half minutes to watch the TED video, then the following links will jump you directly to the cool demonstrations. In the firstdemonstration, Tibbets showed “a single strand dipped in water that completely self-folds on its own into the letters M I T.” In the second, a single strand self-folds into a three-dimensional cube without human interaction.

He said, “We think this is the first time that a program and transformation has been embedded directly into the materials themselves. And it also might just be the manufacturing technique that allows us to produce more adaptive infrastructure in the future.” He also suggested that a potential use of self-assembly 4D tech in space might include a highly functional system that can transform into another highly functional system.

In an example about more adaptive infrastructure in the future, Tibbits stated, “Let’s go back to infrastructure. In infrastructure, we’re working with a company out of Boston called Geosyntec. And we’re developing a new paradigm for piping. Imagine if water pipes could expand or contract to change capacity or change flow rate, or maybe even undulate like peristaltics to move the water themselves. So this isn’t expensive pumps or valves. This is a completely programmable and adaptive pipe on its own.”

That could be great, but our infrastructure is currently a bit of a mess and very hackable . . . the same as many embedded medical devices. Let’s hope that if 4D printing is used in infrastructure that it would be more secure.

Detect heart-rate via webcam and app

Lastly, while less sensational, this next one is more attainable for most geeks. If you have ever wanted to detect your heart-rate using a webcam and a Python app, then you are in luck. The project is on GitHub and interested parties might want to start with the README.

The Changelog states:

webcam-pulse-detector is a cross-platform Python application that can detect a person’s heart-rate using their computer’s webcam. I could write 1,000 words about it, or just show you this:

webcam-pulse-detector to detect your heart-rate using a webcam and Python app

Report: 3D Printing Will (Eventually) Transform Manufacturing

As Reported by designnews.com

Additive manufacturing (AM), including 3D printing, has the potential to upend manufacturing supply chains, according to the new report from Lux Research, “Building the Future: Assessing 3D Printing’s Opportunities and Challenges.” The catch is, it will take a while, and the results will depend on how quickly costs come down, and throughput goes up.

Although consumer applications — such as custom jewelry, toys, and art — have gotten a lot of attention, consumer products will remain a small portion of the 3D-printed parts market, Anthony Vicari, Lux Research associate and the lead author of the report, told Design News. These will grow $17 million from 2012′s $777 million total to $894 million in 2025, when the total market value reaches $8.4 billion. Between now and then, the overall market will grow at an aggressive 18 percent per year.

The lack of improvement in throughput places even more pressure on manufacturers to reduce the cost of materials, which are highly specific to each machine. “Materials are being sold at very high margins right now,” said Vicari, “so there’s a market for independent material suppliers.”

Many different types of materials are involved in each printer’s materials set; for instance, various additives for polymers to control melting temperature and flexibility. For metals, this is less true, but they still require custom development.

Even so, printer companies are only offering a few materials with their machines, compared to what’s potentially available. By 2025, there will probably be a more open market with third-party materials suppliers selling many more materials choices. Meanwhile, some 3D printer companies, especially smaller and newer ones, are partnering with materials companies.

Users of printers often don’t have access to controls, like modifying the chamber temperature for a given material. But once these machines move into production, not prototyping, where every large company has their own process engineers, these customers will want to have more control over the process and the materials, said Vicari.

Business relationships and business models will also change. For example, last November, Morris Technologies, a service bureau that worked primarily with aerospace engine components, was acquired by GE Aviation, which makes aircraft, military, and marine engines.

This makes me wonder whether more aerospace companies might adopt 3D printing and other AM techniques by outright acquisition, instead of investment or monetary support of various kinds, such as Lockheed’s partnership with Sciaky. I also wonder whether machines and materials sets will become more customized for first, specific markets, and second, for individual, very large OEMs.

 

 

Although consumer applications have gotten a lot of attention, these will remain a small portion of the 3D printed parts market. By 2025, prototypes and production parts for automotive, medical, and aerospace segments combined will represent 84 percent of the entire market.   (Source: Lux Research)

Although consumer applications have gotten a lot of attention, these will remain a small portion of the 3D printed parts market. By 2025, prototypes and production parts for automotive, medical, and aerospace segments combined will represent 84 percent of the entire market.
(Source: Lux Research)

 

 

Both prototypes and production parts for automotive, medical, and aerospace segments will represent 84 percent of the entire market by 2025. Today, prototypes represent about 90 percent of uses, and most of the major aerospace and automotive OEMs have some kind of 3D printing division to make prototypes in-house, said Vicari. By 2025, though, this proportion will drop to 47 percent.

The big growth will be in small-volume manufacturing, led by automobile parts and aerospace engines; this will jump from $1 million in 2012 to $1.1 billion in 2025. The production parts that will be most amenable to adoption of 3D printing will be those that need a lot of customization, don’t require high volumes, and are somewhat less cost sensitive.

The report looked at nine different 3D printing technologies: stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), selective heat sintering, powder bed inkjet printing, fused filament fabrication, polyjet, digital light processing, laminated object manufacturing, and electron beam melting. It did not include related technologies such as CNC milling or metal injection molding (MIM).

Although the $11 million medical 3D printing sector is small, it’s growing fast, and will become $1.9 billion by 2025. Prices will drop for printers such as Stratasys’s Objet30 OrthoDesk for dental devices, as well as for materials and scanning technologies.

Before the shift can happen to a majority of production parts in aerospace, automotive, and medical, the report concludes that several other changes must occur, primarily a rise in throughput and a drop in costs. “Currently, throughput is good for 1 to 10 pieces, but once you need to make more than few hundred or even thousand pieces of a part, 3D printing is not likely to be the most affordable way to manufacture something,” Vicari told us.

Methods for increasing throughput vary by specific 3D printing technology. For example, just increasing the build chamber and the number of nozzles only gets you so far, since the process is still limited by the time it takes to deposit the material. There’s been relatively limited development in machine throughput in recent years, perhaps because of the tradeoffs between throughput and minimum resolution. That’s why the report concludes 3D printing is not likely to penetrate the high-volume manufacturing segment.

3D Systems Anchors First Inside 3D Printing Conference

As reported by the Wall Street Journal

3D Systems’ Anchors First Inside 3D Printing Conference

- Company’s CEO to deliver Opening Keynote Address

- Showcase includes Leading Consumer and Professional Offerings

ROCK HILL, S.C., April 18, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced today that it will bring its next generation consumer and professional 3D content-to-print experience to the first Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo at the Javits Convention Center, New York City, NY, from April 22 — 23, 2013, booth 102.

3D Systems plans to showcase its latest line up of consumer and professional 3D printers, 3D printed products, and apps delivering an exclusive 3D lifestyle experience. Attendees can browse at the Cube Café, check out our new Cube(R) and CubeX(TM) 3D printers, see full color 3D printing in action and get creative with gamified 3D design apps. Arts and entertainment brands and app developers are invited to learn how to monetize their intellectual property and creativity on 3D Systems’ hosting, publishing and production platform, Cubify, and join in the 3D printing revolution.

Avi Reichental, 3D Systems’ President and CEO, will present the opening keynote, ‘Manufacturing the Future’, on Monday April 22, 2013 at 9:30 am. “We are thrilled to bring our consumer and professional 3D printing experience to Inside 3D Printing,” said Cathy Lewis, CMO 3D Systems. “We invite attendees to explore the potential of 3D printing and global brands and developers to experience our secure Cubify hosting, publishing and production platform to introduce the 3D lifestyle to their audiences.”

Learn more about our 3D content-to-print offerings at 3DSystems.com

About 3D Systems Corporation

3D Systems is a leading provider of 3D content-to-print solutions including 3D printers, print materials and on-demand custom parts services for professionals and consumers alike. The company also provides CAD, reverse engineering and inspection software tools and consumer 3D printers, apps and services. Its expertly integrated solutions replace and complement traditional methods and reduce the time and cost of designing new products by printing real parts directly from digital input. These solutions are used to rapidly design, create, communicate, prototype or produce real parts, empowering customers to create and make with confidence.