* Citron Research: appearances "unhinged from reality"
* Says consumer printers make egg holders, combs, sex toys
* Obama links 3D printing to manufacturing innovation
By Noel Randewich
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 14 Shares of companies that
sell 3D printers fell on Thursday after Citron Research said
they were vastly overvalued and that the technology, highlighted
this week by U.S. President Barack Obama, has been hyped.
Makers of 3D printers in recent years have turned an
evolving technology used by manufacturers for over two decades
toward consumers, offering the prospect of producing everything
from toys to tools in the home, and sending their share prices
Citron Research, run by California-based investor and
notable short-seller Andrew Left, issued a report on Thursday
accusing 3D Systems' Chief Executive Abe Reichental of
exaggerating advances in 3D printing and contributing to a
bubble in the shares of 3D printing companies.
"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," Citron Research said.
"Behind every good bubble there is a good promoter, in this case
we have the best in Abe Reichental."
Shares of 3D Systems Corporation, the biggest listed
U.S. 3D printer maker, fell. So did shares of Stratasys
Citron Research focuses on stocks it believes have been
fraudulently and intentionally overvalued. It said 3D Systems
has made no significant advances in 3D printing technology in
the past five years and that it has recently rehashed consumer
products with little change.
Rock Hill, South Carolina-based 3D Systems and Stratasys
declined to comment.
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing creates
solid objects from a digital model by laying down successive
thin layers of material. Under the traditional "subtractive"
approach, objects are created by cutting them out of a solid
chunk of metal or plastic.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama pointed
to 3D printing as a technology for manufacturing innovation and
said it "has the potential to revolutionize the way we make
Shares of 3D printer stocks rallied the next day.
Leading-edge 3D printers are finding new roles in
manufacturing, for example, to create product prototypes and
other kinds of one-off production.
Companies such as General Electric Co plan to use 3D
printing to build lightweight aircraft parts. Dentists use it to
create crowns in the space of an hour instead of two weeks.
But today's consumer-level 3D printers can produce little
more than egg holders, combs and plastic sex toys, Citron
Shares of 3D Systems have tripled over the past 12 months
and recently traded at more than 42 times the company's expected
Shares of Stratasys have almost doubled over the past 12
months. Its stock was recently priced at 39 times expected
After Citron's report, 3D Systems closed down 4.36 percent
at $62.75 and Stratasys ended 6.08 percent lower at $71.20.
ExOne closed down 2.96 percent at $27.18.