3D Printing

Materialise IPO?

Belgian 3D printing firm, Materialise, is considering an initial public offering. Insiders have said that it is leaning towards an IPO on either the NYSE Euronext or Nasdaq index. Materialise could raise between $70 million and $100 million. If it does list, Materialise will join a growing number of 3D printing based companies on public markets such as the most recent recruit, voxeljet, last month.

A spokeswoman for Materialise said: Materialise constantly explores, with an open mind, various opportunities that may fuel its growth. A public transaction involving equity is one possibility, but there are many other alternative means to finance our growth. Today none of these many options has been ruled out.

voxeljet listed on the NSE for $13 dollars per share, raising $100 million. The stock leapt nearly 90% in the first 90 minutes of trading. voxeljet follows the IPO of The ExOne Co, which listed in February of this year on Nasdaq. The stock floated at $18 per share raising $110 million, and bounced to a high of $79 in August, before falling back down to $55.

In July Stoxx a Zurich-based provider of indices, introduced the Stoxx Global 3D Printing Pure Play Index, which tracks pure-play companies that are highly involved in the 3D printing sector’s growth. The index has risen 16% over the past month.

3D Printing Industry contributor, Gary Anderson, who also writes at Seeking Alpha and 3D Printing Stocks has formed a new index called the The 3DPS Index™ (3D Printing Stock Tracking Index), billed as ‘The only market capitalization-weighted tracking or trading index requiring at least 50% of revenue to be generated from the 3D printing industry.’

The tracking elements are under review and currently include: 3D Systems Corp. (DDD) – NYSE; Stratasys Ltd. (SSYS) – NasdaqGS; The ExOne Company (XONE) – NasdaqGM; Organovo Holdings, Inc. (ONVO)- NYSE; Arcam AB (AMAVF) – OTC Markets; and voxeljet AG (VJET) – NYSE.

Across the board speculation is increasing:

Consultancy giant McKinsey ranked 3D printing as one of the technologies poised to have an disruptive economic impact by 2025 and said in a recent report that consumers that use 3D printing could save themselves 35-60% in costs per product.

Arjen Koppens, a senior business developer at Dutch innovation research firm, TNO, said one of the benefits of 3D printing is that it allows the creation of products with less material but with the same properties as those made through traditional manufacturing.

Pete Basiliere, a research director for the technology and service provider sector at Gartner, said: “The hype around the consumer market has made senior managers aware that these tools are not necessarily as expensive as they were. As a result we have managers coming to engineers, researches and designers saying ‘Why don’t we have one of these?’ The sector is definitely poised to grow. We are predicting very strong growth over the next five years.”

Myself? I project an even higher level of economic impact. In the past month 2D printing giants Hewlett Packard and Canon have (re)entered the sector. UPS now has 3D printers in-store. Microsoft now stocks Stratasys-owned MakerBot 3D printers. UK Walmart-owned supermarket giant Asda has begun in-store trials of 3D printing in preparation for a potential national roll-out.

UK high street tech leaders PC World, Curries and Dixons, all part of the Dixons group, now stock 3D System’s Cube. eBay and Amazon have their own sections for 3D printers. eBay even entered the 3D design / CAD market with its iOS App eBay Exact in the summer. And so on. It seems, therefore, that 2013 will be the year we look back to as being the year that 3D Printing really did hit the mainstream.

2014 will likely see a filter down effect with more smaller corporations entering the market, a surge in R&D into the technology already being preceded by initiatives by DARPA, NASA, the ESA and other world leading technology catalysts. The exponential nature of the rate of increase of technology is intrinsically linked with cutting edge disruptive generic technologies such as 3D printing, the internet of things, advanced robotics and artificial intelligence.

Economics and high technology are increasingly linked, just as industry — based upon technology — and economics have been since the first industrial revolution. Technology is the leading factor now, as crowdfunding increasingly democratises access to start-up funds as per the new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Jobs act Initiative.