Before Michael Jackson was singing Beat It 3D printing existed. Shares in listed 3D printing companies have recently been acting with all the volatility of an immature sector, like the teens he was singing about. Part of the reason is that a 3D printing patent expired in 2009, prompting a proliferation of smaller companies. Industry has been, in turns, red hot and arctic cold: share prices of 3D printing companies halved in 2014, on average.
The earliest businesses – Stratasys and 3D Systems – have already been caught in the mood swings. Both had to cut revenue predictions a year ago, owing to acquisitions (Stratasys) and fabricating delays (3D Systems).
As the marketplace evolves, both have shopped for smaller competitors to strengthen their offerings – an expensive hobby. Their shares have been pummelled, even though organic growth has been sturdy.