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3D Printing


3D printing refers to processes in which material is joined or solidified under computer control to create a three dimensional object, with material being added together (such as liquid molecules or powder grains being fused together). 3D printing is used in both rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing (AM).

This article covers companies which develop and manufacture machinery for Additive manufacturing such as: 3D printers of various technologies, 3D printing materials, 3D fabricators, 3D copiers, 3D printing pens. Software providers (print management platforms, slicing software, etc.) are also included. In addition, the report contains companies which provide 3D printed objects for consumers (jewellery, wearables, toys, healthcare products etc.).

It includes companies that provide online 3D designing to 3D printing services.

Problem and Implication

  • Intellectual Property: Patents, rights and trademark issues are some of the problems faced in this sector. 3D printing is not relatively new and these intellectual property rights would take on a different role when 3D printers become widely used by hobbyists and individuals for non-profit distribution.

  • Gun legislation: 3D printers have been used to print firearm components and guns, and this is an issue that has been raised by security agencies all over the world. Although there are laws that reduce the use of printers in the manufacture of guns but the online distribution of 3D printable files is on still on the rise and tough to salvage.

  • Health issues: A research done by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work noted that the materials and procedures used in 3D printing has adverse occupational health and safety issues such as gas and material exposure, static electricity etc.

Need Payoff

With over 2340 companies in the sector, 228 funded in last 5 years, $1.1B invested in last 2 years with Techstars, 500 Startups, SOSV, Kima Ventures, GE Ventures being the most active investors. There are three sectors here:

  • Hardware: The companies here are divided into companies that provide 3D printers, printing materials; and industrial grade. An example of a company here is Carbon3D, founded in 2013 in Redwood City with $222.1M investment.

  • Software: The software companies here are split into 3D model fixing and Copyright management. 3D Trust, founded in 2015, in Munich with a $1.2M investment.

  • Applications: These applications range from areas like healthcare, consumer products, construction and fashion. ConforMs founded in 2004 in Bedford with a $356M investment.

Three major players in this sector:

  • 3D Systems was founded in 1983 and is one of the major provider of 3D products and services and covers many industries: manufacturing, scanning and healthcare. With an overall market cap of $1.36B and current share price of $11.88.

  • ExOne was founded in 2005, specializing in the manufacture and sale of 3D printing machines and related products. Their major printing technology was developed by MIT and their printers range from production printers to education printers. They have an overall market cap of $166M and a current share price of $10.26

  • HP has a cap of $36.5B and current share price of $15.73. HP recently launched a laboratory that helps companies develop and deliver futuristic materials and applications for 3D printing. Their main focus is to purchase 3D printing for mainstream manufacturing.


This is a great sector to invest as according to Markets and Markets, the 3D printing market is expected to be worth USD 32.78 Billion by 2023. Investors need to be kept abreast of governmental regulations and intellectual property rules before making a move in this sector.



Traxcn Report, November 2017

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