3-D Printing is one of the most exciting forms of technology in generations. Why? The potential is boundless and I believe 3-D printing will be a true game-changer for manufacturing at a time when the U.S.is trying to bring corporate jobs back home. Forget for a minute the implications for the jewelry, dental work, prototyping and even the role it could play creating organs (company in this space is Organovo – OTCQX: ONVO). What I find most exciting is the role 3-D printing can play in energy. President Obama is endorsing a move by the Departments of Defense and Energy to launch modern manufacturing hubs that will create high-tech jobs. So could Xerox (NYSE: XRX) be considered an alternative energy play now?
I think Xerox, not a name typically thrown into the 3-D conversation despite their history, is a name to watch in the space. The company has been working furiously on ways to print silver on to thin materials. This could have implications on semiconductors, circuitry and drum roll please, solar strips. In fact, this could make silicon less important in the future of electronics and energy as a conductive source since silver is more conductive and could potentially be produced cheaper through 3-D printing. The silver Xerox is working on can melt at temperatures (less than 140 degrees C) which are lower than melting temperatures of plastic (plastics tend to melt at 150 degrees C or more). Therefore, I believe Xerox’s silver has the potential to be used in solar strips since it could answer the age old problem associated with silver, namely that heated silver damages non-reflective layers of plastic film which encase an electric field.
Names like 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) and Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS) have been on an absolute tear over the past year so these names are not for the faint of heart. Therefore it could be more alluring to play the space by looking at Xerox, a former bellwether that just may be able to reinvent itself in 3-D printing and the advancement of cheaper alternative energy.
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