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Investing in 3D Printing?

You've been reading many articles about 3D printing, or perhaps you've seen one. You think (like us) that 3D printing is going to be a Big Thing one day. You want a piece of the action. But how do you do that? 
Normally you'd select one or more likely companies and simply buy their public stock from an exchange. Can you do this in the world of 3D printing? 
The answer is "sometimes". If one were to look at the world of 3D printers today you'd find several types of entities involved:
  • Open source projects, like RepRap. These operations aren't necessarily companies, let alone something you could invest in, other than donations. 
  • Small companies, like MakerBot. They're privately owned and unless you know someone you'd have a hard time making a real investment. But investments do happen, as MakerBot recently received a massive USD$10M injection.
  • Private companies, like Objet or ZCorp. They're big. They have (presumably) big profits. But you can't invest in them, as they are private. No stock offerings here. 
  • Public companies, such as 3D Systems or Stratsys. Yes, you can invest in them! They are public companies offering stock that trades on major exchanges. But here's the catch: only  these two 3D printer manufacturers offer stock. You may choose one or the other. Only.
So that's your choice, 3D Systems or Stratasys, if you want to invest in 3D printer makers.  
There is another investment possibility: invest in related products and services that aren't actually 3D printers. But that's a post for another day.

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