Market Cap: $1.8 billion
YTD Performance: 80%
Proto Labs (PRLB) is the oddball in this group of 3D printing stocks because technically it is not a 3D printer at all, but a “computerized numerical control” manufacturer.
This is a fancy way of saying that Proto Labs does high-tech machining using robots and other computer-controlled methods to operate machinery and create things. Not quite 3D printing… but pretty darn close.
PRLB is kind of a hybrid between the big 3D printing stocks and the smaller enterprise-driven businesses like VJET and XONE. Proto Labs produces injection-molded plastic parts and custom-machined parts for clients around the globe, meaning it has a business bent, but is set to record more than $160 million in revenue this year and a decent profit.
Furthermore, that revenue would be up 30% over last year.
Pure 3D printing is not yet part of the Proto Labs mission, but it very well could be in the near future either through an acquisition or through R&D. If you’re looking for a way to get your feet wet in 3D printing, this might be the least risky of the group.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com and the author of The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the stocks named here. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP.