Here’s a sign that our stock writer and founder of 3DPrintingStocks.com, Gary Anderson, knows what he’s talking about. He’s been including Proto Labs in his analyses of the overall 3D printing industry for at least a few months now, even though their main business has been that of CNC machining and injection molding.  And, yesterday, the company announced the acquisition of FineLine Prototyping, North Carolina-based provider of additive manufacturing services.  You can now, officially, add Proto Labs (NYSE: PRLB) to your industry watch-list.

The addition of FineLine’s services to Proto Labs’ portfolio increases the company’s offerings from CNC machining and injection molding to include new methods of short-run production and prototyping.  Generating $9.7 million in 2013, FineLine provides industrial stereolithography, selective laser sintering, and direct metal laser sintering services to clients spanning the fields of medical, aerospace, computer/electronics, consumer, and industrial production. As 70% of Proto Labs’ customers are thought to use 3D printing for product development, the company sees the acquisition as a key offering for their database of over 300,000 product developers.

Proto Labs President and CEO, Vicki Holt, says of the acquisition, “We are excited to launch our new additive manufacturing service. The FineLine acquisition is the first step in building this new service. We will look to expand our additive manufacturing capabilities in the US, as well as globally, through both organic growth and potential new acquisitions. Our customers have been asking us to provide additive manufacturing services for quite some time, and now we can address that need. We’re accepting orders starting today.

The company will be acquired for $38 million, with Proto Labs running the FineLine facility in Raleigh under FineLine’s own principals, Rob Connelly and Craig Goff.  Proto Labs suggests that the deal will increase their earnings per share by the fourth quarter of this year.  In other words, get in while you can! Warning: I don’t own any PRLB stock, but, more importantly, I am not a stock analyst and my advice is to be taken as nothing more than irreverent whimsy in a world whose ways are largely indecipherable.

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