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3D Systems Corporation (DDD - Free Report) announced the shipping of its first speedy 3D-printing production platform, Figure 4, to a buyer. In addition, the company unveiled a Figure 4 platform based on the Figure 4 technology and NextDent material, which has been designed for dental applications.

The Figure 4 production platform is modular and scalable, and ranges from single-print engine machines to high-volume, fully-automated production systems with 16 or more print engines. The automatable 3D-printing system is designed to produce polymer (which includes plastics) parts, which it can do over 50 times faster than conventional systems, according to the company.

Further, the system is modular, which means it can be tailored according to the customer's needs, be it a simple single-print engine configuration or a fully-automated system with 16-plus print engines. Automated configurations integrate features like material delivery systems and post-processing operations into the platform.

The machine is designed to revolutionize the use of 3D printing, right from prototyping to large-scale production.

The Figure 4 platform is particularly relevant for the dental industry. 3D Systems’ recent acquisition of Vertex Global and their NextDent subsidiary (which makes dental materials for 3D printing) has strengthened the company’s hold in this market. The Figure 4 technology has been tailored to be compatible with NextDent’s portfolio of 12 materials, which hold regulatory approvals in several countries.

3D Systems asserted that this dental platform is equipped to unlock improvements of up to 10 times in total cost of operations, together with radically reduced fabrication times, and far less material waste, when compared with conventional manufacturing methods.

The first shipment of the machine has been delivered to a Fortune 50 industrial customer. 3D Systems plans to begin shipping the Figure 4 platform in the fall of this year. The company plans to ramp up customer-specific shipments in the second half of 2017. This news will likely be welcomed by investors, as the company has struggled to achieve revenue growth over the past couple of years, which has considerably affected its bottom line.

The company’s share price has also followed a similar trend, as 3D Systems has had a bearish run on the bourse over the past two years. Its shares declined 47.2%, significantly underperforming the Zacks categorized Computers – Mini Computers industry’s average positive return of 4.8%, over the past couple of years.

On paper, 3D Systems' new technology looks similar to Carbon's ultra-fast proprietary CLIP technology. Stratasys (SSYS - Free Report) also has a proprietary photopolymerization technology, PolyJet, but does not offer a speedy version of the same.

Furthermore, HP Inc. (HPQ - Free Report) has also entered the race to industrialize 3D printing. HP claims that its 3D-printing technology – Multi Jet Fusion (“MJF”) – is significantly faster than leading 3D-printing technologies.

3D Systems intends to leverage its Figure 4 technology for production-quality 3D printing in an extensive range of applications. The company is also striving to expand in the key healthcare vertical. 3D Systems already has a strong foothold in the dental market and has enjoyed leadership in the aligner category for years. The Figure 4 system will likely expand its footprint significantly in the dental industry.

It seems that these developments have attracted favorable analyst attention, as 3D Systems’ estimates have witnessed strong bullish activity lately. Over the past month, the company’s 2017 estimate witnessed six upward revisions versus none downward. Consequently, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 has increased a whopping 143.8% to 39 cents.

3D Systems Corporation Price and Consensus

Thanks to these bullish indicators, 3D Systems holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Stocks to Consider

Another stock in the broader computer & technology sector is Dassault Systemes SA (DASTY - Free Report) , sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Dassault Systemes, a globally recognized leader in CAD/CAM/CAE and PDM II markets, has a striking earnings surprise history for the trailing four quarters, beating estimates all through for an average positive surprise of 11%.

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