3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) sure has had a busy past couple of weeks.
First, shares of the additive manufacturing specialist rose more than 7% after the company reported a solid first quarter, during which revenue grew 31% as printer sales rose 81% from the year-ago period. Gross margin also rose to a record 52.4%, and GAAP net income popped 43% from the first quarter of 2012.
Next, 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) put on its shopping gloves and bought manufacturing extraordinaire Rapid Product Development Group, which should prove a nice bolt-on acquisition to be melded into the existing Quickparts Services segment. Even better, 3D Systems appears to expect RPDG to be quickly accretive to earnings, as it simultaneously boosted annual revenue guidance by $20 million to $25 million and earnings per share by $0.05.
Stapling it all together
Now, Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) has become the first major U.S. retailer to carry 3-D printers by offering 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD)’ very own Cube printers online.
Even better, curious customers should also be able to get their first glimpse of the printers in person, when they become available in a limited number of Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS)’ bricks-and-mortar stores by the end of June.
3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) CEO Avi Reichental said, “We are absolutely thrilled that a leader and innovator of the caliber of Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) is making it easy to get our award-winning Cube 3D Printer family on-line and in their stores.”
When we note that the market drove shares of 3D Systems up more than 8% Monday, it seems he’s not the only one thrilled with the news.
Of course, the consumer-oriented device probably won’t fly off shelves at $1,299.99, especially considering they’ll only print in a single color. The higher-end CubeX Trio, which currently costs $3,999, can still only print up to three colors and with two types of plastic.
Even so, this partnership should serve as a great introduction of the technology to the masses, and you can bet more people will buy a Cube now compared with when they were available only through 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD)’ website.
That said, while 3D Systems still isn’t providing exact details on current sales numbers, management did tell investors during their earnings conference call that Cube and CubeX 3-D printer sales have already “enjoyed favorable marketplace reception, and sales of these printers continued to be at the top end of our expectations.”
In addition, as with any relatively new technology, healthy competition between companies such as 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD), Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS), and privately owned MakerBot will ensure 3-D printers only get faster, cheaper, and more powerful.
So while many people will remain mildly amused on the sidelines for now, it’s only a matter of time until 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) consumerizes some of its more impressive commercial solutions. For instance, late last month the company unveiled its next-gen ProJet x60 printer, which boasts the ability to print 90% of the colors available in Adobe Photoshop: