Last week, my first in the 3D printing world, was a pretty hectic week for 3D printing news. After Obama mentioned 3D printing in his State of the Union Address (SOTU) there was a race to write articles, buy stocks and jump on this crest of a wave.
Every action causes a reaction, this much we know. After stocks in 3D printing companies grew post SOTU there was bound to be some party pooping. That negativity came in the shape and form of Andrew Left of Citron Research.
Citron released a report calling 3D Systems stock “bubble Stock”, a bubble they are aiming to prick with their rather hard hitting and sarcastic report. The report accuses 3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental of being more like famous scam artist “PT Barnum than a well polished CEO”.
While Citron boasts an impressive track record in unearthing bubble stock there was nothing new in their report, no facts we didn’t already know. Nor was the report particularly novel in itself. A number of 'commentators' have stepped up to have a pop at 3D Systems, Stratasys and most recently ExOne stocks. Each report causes a wobble in the share price followed by congratulatory back-slapping, only for prices to recover the next day.
On the whole these commentators may have a point, but when they bundle ProtoLabs as a 3D printing stock time and again, as well a number of other glaring factual errors, it's difficult to take them too seriously. It smacks of a lack of real research and understanding of the industry they are so stridently professing an expertise in.
We all know that the technology has been around for some time now and that there is an element of bandwagon jumping in the sector. However what cannot be denied is the growth experienced by consumer sites like Materialise, Shapeways, Thingiverse and Sculpteo.
Shapeways currently host well over one million designs now, are seeing uploads of 10,000 a week and have a community of over 250,000 people, compare this to a year ago when there was only 100,000 in the community and only an average of 4,500 uploads per week in 2011. There is undeniable growth in the industry.
Citron may have made some important points about the hype surrounding 3D Printing, caused some stocks to fall slightly and caused a little bit of upset but they have only served as a speed limiter as opposed to fully applying the brakes to this bandwagon.