3D printing in plastics has had a lot of attention over recent years, but metal-based 3D printing has the most potential to change global supply chains and industry.

A number of ASX listed small cap companies have sought to take advantage of the growing market – but it’s not quite as prevalent as blockchain, AI and machine learning.

Yet, 3D printing has broad application in a wide range of industries including aviation, aerospace, healthcare, engineering, automotive, fashion/textiles and more.

Sports clothing manufacturer Adidas has a new training shoe that has a 3D printed sole, in healthcare it is being used to manufacture prosthetics and implants and parts have been successfully printed and used in Boeing airplanes.

The main challenge of mass adoption of 3D printing to date has been the cost.

Whilst it has the potential to be cost effective it is still a fairly costly process today and this has been the main barrier.

However, there are many industries that began with astronomically expensive.

Air travel for example was once only available to the few with seven-digit bank balances and above. Whereas now, commercial air travel is commonplace.

Whilst the market has cooled for 3D printing recently, likely a result of the slower than expected mass adoption – it is still expected to be a significant market.

McKinsey estimates the market for metals 3D printing will be worth US$10 billion by 2035.

So, what small cap stocks on the ASX have exposure to 3D printing?

Titomic (ASX:TTT) is focused on metal 3D printing. It makes parts for military and oil and gas companies. It claims to have the world’s largest and fastest metal 3D printer in its facility in Melbourne and its technology is expected to cut the price of titanium manufacturing.

Aurora Labs (ASX:A3D) is a developer of 3D metal printers. It has a number of projects in train focused on developing and building 3D metal printing technologies.

3DDD (ASX:T3D) is a seller of 3D printed and licensed sporting figurines. It doesn’t provide traditional 3D printing services and in its latest company update it announced it had sold one of its 3D printing machines.

Oventus (ASX:OVN) is a medical device company that has developed a 3D printed titanium mandibular split or mouthguard in collaboration with the CSIRO’s Lab22 for patients with sleep apnoea.

Company Last Price (13 May)  Market Capitalisation 12 month performance (%)
OVENTUS MEDICAL LTD 0.22              23,306,627                                               (18.52)
AURORA LABS LTD 0.375              33,238,159                                               (21.88)
333D LTD 0.001                      881,226                                               (50.00)
TITOMIC LTD 2.44           300,359,649                                                    0.41
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