3D Printing for the Masses, but Can It Do Bobbleheads?

3D Dolls
Source: Courtesy of 3D Systems Inc.
3D Systems Inc. (NYSE: DDD) today announced a new service that allows customers to submit a headshot and have the company produce a 5.5-inch, 3D figurine with their head on the body of a superhero, athlete or other figure. The service, called 3DMe, is available on the website, and each figurine costs $64.99.

3D Systems has offered other services at the website for a while now and is clearly searching for a way to push 3D printing down from its industrial base to the much larger mass market. In 2012 the company reported services revenue of $123.65 million, nearly equal to its $126.8 million in revenues from printer sales. Adding a consumer-directed service like 3DMe is an easier way to dive into the mass market than introducing a cheaper printer that people might want to buy.

Privately held MakerBot Industries has introduced a 3D printer for the consumer market priced at $2,199 and scanning software that allows users to scan a 3D object and reproduce it at home. 3D Systems wants to test the water before taking that plunge. Competitors ExOne Co. (NASDAQ: XONE) and Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS) also offer 3D printing services, but none directed at the mass market as yet.

The new service does not appear to have amused investors. Shares of 3D Systems are down about 1%, at $30.56 in a 52-week range of $14.83 to $47.99.

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