The 3-D printing industry is made up of companies that provide products and services for manufacturing devices capable of making lighter, stronger parts. These 3-D printers create a physical object from a digital design. The printing process works by laying down thin layers of material in the form of liquid or powdered plastic, metal or cement, and then fusing the layers together. Leading companies in this industry group include 3-D Systems Corp., (DDD), Proto Labs Inc. (PRLB), and Faro Technologies Inc. (FARO).

Though the process was invented nearly 30 years ago, most of the companies in this industry are much younger. There are only four players of significant size. Most of the companies within group are classified as small-cap stocks. Like all stocks in this asset class, these companies have the potential to grow rapidly but may be more prone to failure.

This industry is so young that it has no meaningful benchmark index. But these stocks' performance can be compared to the Russell 1000 index, which posted a 1-year trailing total return of 18.8% over the past 12 months. These market performance numbers and the statistics in the tables below are as of October 5.

Here are the top three 3D printing stocks with the best value, the least sales decline, and the strongest performance.

Best Value 3D Printing Stocks

These are the 3D Printing stocks with the lowest 12-month trailing price-to-sales (P/S) ratio. For companies in early stages of development or industries suffering from major shocks, this can be substituted as a rough measure of a business's value. A business with higher sales could eventually produce more profit when it achieves, or returns to, profitability. The price-to-sales ratio shows how much you're paying for the stock for each dollar of sales generated.

Best Value 3D Printing Stocks

 

Price ($) Market Cap ($M) 12-Month Trailing P/S Ratio
3D Systems Corp. (DDD) 4.87 589.9 1.0
Stratasys Ltd. (SSYS 12.36 680.2 1.2
Proto Labs Inc. (PRLB) 131.45 3,511.0 7.9

Source: YCharts

  • 3D Systems Corp.: 3D Systems was co-founded by the inventor of 3D printing, Charles (“Chuck”) Hull, and has grown into a global 3D solutions company. 3D Systems develops, makes, and markets 3D printers, print materials, software, scanners, virtual surgical simulators, and other products. The company recently announced that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one of their products for use in applications for several types of surgery.
  • Stratasys Ltd.: With its founder having invented one of the first 3D printing technologies, and Stratasys is a leading manufacturer of 3D printers, software, and materials. Stratasys has created 3D printing systems for major brands in the aerospace, automotive, consumer product, dental, and medical industries. On September 29, the company released a report forecasting strong industry growth in 2021 as consumers boost purchases of 3D printing technology.
  • Proto Labs Inc.: Protolabs is a manufacturer of custom prototypes and on-demand production parts with manufacturing facilities in five countries. It's the largest 3D printing company by market cap. The company's production of COVID-19 nasal swabs for testing was recently cited in the Harvard Medical School news. 

3D Printing Stocks with Least Sales Decline

These are the 3D Printing stocks with the least year-over-year (YOY) sales decline for the most recent quarter. A company’s ability to maintain profitability in a difficult business environment can be a sign of good management and/or a strong business model.

3D Printing Stocks with the Least Sales Decline

 

Price ($) Market Cap ($M) Revenue (Quarterly
YOY Growth)
Proto Labs Inc. (PRLB) 131.45 3,511.0 -8.1%
Materialise NV (MTLS 37.52 1,995.0 -22.8%
Stratasys Ltd. (SSYS) 12.36 680.2 -27.9%

Source: YCharts

  • Proto Labs Inc.: See company description above.
  • Materialise NV: Headquartered in Belgium, Materialise has branches worldwide and one of the largest 3D printing facilities in the world. Materialise NV operates as a rapid prototype designer and manufacturer, and focuses on 3D imaging software combined with plastic molding to develop products for industrial, medical, and dental customers. In September the company announced that it had made a strategic investment in Ditto, a developer of virtual eyewear try-on platforms .
  • Stratasys Ltd.: See company description above.

3D Printing Stocks with the Best Performance

These are the 3D Printing stocks that had the best returns or smallest declines in total return over the past 12 months out of the companies we looked at.

3D Printing Stocks with the Best Performance

 

Price ($) Market Cap ($M) 1 Year Total Returns (Daily)
Materialise NV. (MTLS) 37.52 1,995.0 105.9%
Proto Labs Inc. (PRLB) 131.45 3,511.0  37.0%
3D Systems Corp. (DDD) 4.87 589.9 -37.9%

Source: YCharts

  • Materialise NV.:  See company description above.
  • Proto Labs Inc.: See company description above.
  • 3D Systems Corp.: See company description above.