Both announcements bring the cutting-edge technology closer to the consumer mainstream, and the pioneer companies closer to their big payday, writes MoneyShow's Jim Jubak, also of Jubak's Picks.
It's been a busy seven days for the 3D printing industry. First, on June 20, Stratasys (SSYS) announced that it would acquire privately held MakerBot for $400 million in stock.
The deal will push Stratasys deeper into the consumer/prosumer market. MakerBot is best known for its stores where consumers can walk in, learn how to use a 3D printer, and then, with the help of MakerBot technicians, produce 3D objects.
Stratasys is in the process of completing integration of Objet after last year's merger of equals. Objet is a leader in the professional market that targets such uses as orthodontic models produced in dentist offices.
MakerBot had $15.7 million in sales in 2012, and is projected to show $65 million to $70 million in sales in 2013. For more on the breakdown of the 3D market among Stratasys, ExOne (XONE) and 3D Systems (DDD), see my recent post.
Second, yesterday Microsoft (MSFT) announced that it would add 3D printer support in Windows 8.1. Developers working in Windows 8.1 will be able to use a new API to put 3D printing capabilities into their applications.
This is a big boost for the consumer/prosumer segment, since it means that interested consumers will be able to use 3D printers without having to install extra software on Windows devices.
In today's demonstration, Microsoft used a 3D MakerBot Replicator 2 printer to print a vase. Microsoft also said that it will begin selling the Replicator 2 in Microsoft stores "soon."
Beam me up, Scotty.
Full disclosure: I don't own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this post in my personal portfolio. When in 2010 I started the mutual fund I manage, Jubak Global Equity Fund, I liquidated all my individual stock holdings and put the money into the fund. The fund did not own shares of any stock mentioned in this post as of the end of March. For a full list of the stocks in the fund as of the end of March, see the fund's portfolio here.