October 30, 2014 / 7:38 PM / in 3 years

Stratasys sees robust 3D-printing market as HP reveals plans

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A day after Hewlett-Packard Co revealed plans for ground-breaking 3D printing technology, 3D-printing manufacturer Stratasys Ltd said it is expecting more competition and pointed to its strong position in a market expected to explode by the end of the decade.

Hewlett-Packard on Wednesday said it had developed 3D-printing technology that can print 10 times faster at considerably less expense than current products, and that it plans to launch the technology broadly in 2016.

Shares of Stratasys have slipped some 3 percent since the announcement, while those of rival 3D Systems Corp have dropped about 5 percent.

At a media event on Thursday in New York, Stratasys executives said the global 3D-printing market is expected to swell from $3 billion last year to $21 billion by 2020, according to industry research.

“Even if some very good competitors are going to enter into this market, I think the growth of the market will allow (Stratasys and other companies to grow),” Stratasys Chief Executive Officer David Reis said in an interview on the sidelines of the event. “It’s not going to be limited to one or two companies.”

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, makes products by layering material until a three-dimensional object is created.

The technology, which promises the ability to customize and improve products through new designs and make them more cheaply by using less materials, is employed by hobbyists as well as large companies such as General Electric Co. Industry uses 3D printing for prototyping as well as creating specialized tools, moldings and some end-use parts.

Stratasys said it holds about 55 percent of the market for printers priced at over $10,000, what it calls the enterprise market. For the desktop market of printers under $10,000, it said it holds 35 percent share, largely through its MakerBot branded printers.

“Of course we are concerned about it,” Reis said in the interview, regarding the HP announcement. “But I think that we have a lot in our pocket. We have great technology today. We have real customers using our equipment today.”

During a presentation to journalists, Reis said there would be more competition and that venture capitalists were investing in 3D printing.

“The industry is changing extremely fast,” the CEO told reporters.

Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; editing by Gunna Dickson

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