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3D printing bubble bursts; Obama comments 'overhyped'

Posting in Design

Will we see innovation and investment in 3D printing begin to slide?

Printable guns, the use of 3D printing techniques to encourage the rapid growth of stem cells and the European Space Agency's plans to use 3D printing to help create a moonbase are simply some examples of how far 3D printing has progressed within the last few years.

However, according to Reuters, the days where investors were eager to participate in these kinds of technological development -- at least when it comes to consumer products -- may be beginning to slide.

This week, U.S. President Obama acknowledged the fragile U.S. manufacturing economy, and pointed towards 3D printing as a way to help rivive the country's sluggish industry, commenting that it "has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost anything." However, the moment Citron Research called the president's claims "vastly overhyped," the stock market revealed the results of such a statement.

Makers of 3D printers saw their shares slide after a successful run in recent years due to the boom in the industry. Many large 3D printing manufacturers, including 3D Systems Corporation, Stratasys and ExOne, took the brunt of Citron Research's comments.

The research firm issued a report which accused 3D Systems' Chief Executive Abe Reichental of exaggerating advances made in the field, which has contributed to a "bubble" in shares related to the technology. Citron Research said:

"Appearances have become completely unhinged from reality when it comes to the mania created in so-called '3D Printing' stocks, and 3D Systems in particular. Behind every good bubble there is a good promoter, in this case we have the best in Abe Reichental."

The report suggests that many stocks related to 3D printing have been "fraudulently and intentionally overvalued," and consumer products have made little advancement in the past five years.

Overall, the publication says that at market close, 3D Systems saw shares slide 4.36 percent, whereas Stratasys and ExOne closed with 6.08 and 2.96 percent drops in share price respectively.

(via Reuters)

Image credit: 3D Systems Corporation

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— By on February 14, 2013, 6:35 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure