3D printing stocks have not fared well lately. 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) hit a 52-week low of $39.09 in their last trading session. Xone (NASDAQ:XONE) has lost -45% of their market capitalization in just 3 months. Even industry leader Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) has lost nearly -20% year-to-date. Investing in 3D printing can be a volatile experience, yet some companies are more than willing to attach themselves to this volatility by issuing press releases and claiming that they are “entering the 3D printing market”. One such company is Zecotek.
Founded in 2004, Zecotek Photonics Inc. (CVE:ZMS) is a Canada-based photonics company. The Company is engaged in developing technology and products: laser systems and components, crystals, solid-state photo detectors and other imaging and 3D display technologies. Zecotek has a market cap of $33 million and minuscule revenues:
The Company’s website and financials say nothing about their involvement in 3D printing. The only information that can be gleaned about Zecotek’s involvement in 3D printing are 4 press releases issued in 2014. Since their first “3D Printing” press release, (CVE:ZMS) shares have lost over -50% of their value.
January 31, 2014
Earlier this year, Zecotek issued an assertive press release titled “Zecotek Enters 3D Printing Market“. The press release went on to say:
Zecotek Display Systems Pte. Ltd. is designing a unique 3D printing interface platform between existing and future generations of 3D printers and its own patented 3D display technology. By creating a user interface between the 3D printer and our own patented 3D display, we offer end-users the most realistic view of the solid object being created on the printer.
According to the company website, Zecotek has a “patent pending” 3D display technology that allows a user to see in 3D without having to wear the traditional “3D glasses”:
The technology is current being demoed in 32-inch demonstration displays located in Zecotek’s Singapore and Vancouver offices. Zecotek believes that this 3D display technology will allow users of 3D printers to better see what they are printing. With 3D printing beyond the demonstration phase, the design software being developed for today’s 3D printers is both mature and capable. Would 3D printing users want to buy a display unit specifically for better visualizing what they are printing? Have CAD programs not been providing this need sufficiently so far? Even if the patents are granted for Zecotek’s display technology, what are barriers to entry for any other 3D display company stating that they are now “entering the 3D printing market” and that their display technology is a must have for anyone doing 3D printing?
February 27, 2014
Just under one month after, Zecotek issued a press release titled “Zecotek Developing 3D Printer with LT-Pyrkal“. The news release went on to say:
Zecotek Display Systems Pte. Ltd. is designing a unique 3D printer which will offer technical and commercial competitive advantages to existing 3D printers. Zecotek is working with LT-Pyrkal of Yerevan, Armenia, a long time contract partner which developed a number of key elements for Zecotek`s own patented 3D display technology. This is Zecotek`s second product offering to the 3D market following the recently announced 3D printing platform which offers significant design, cost, and time advantages when Zecotek’s glasses free, auto-stereoscopic, multi-view, HD 3D display.
So Zecotek is “developing” a 3D printer with an Armenian company (of which little information can be found) and this qualifies as their “second product offering to the 3D market”??? It seems like a stretch to call a product in design phase a “product offering”.
July 21, 2014
After 5 months, Zecotek then issues another press release titled “Zecotek & LT-PYRKAL Announce High-Performance 3D Printer“. An excerpt from the release is as follows:
“With our partner LT-PYRKAL, we are assembling and testing our first 3D printer which will have the ability to use an extended and varied list of alloys to “print” metal components for targeted industries,”
So in the space of 5 months, “a number of key technical challenges have been solved” and Zecotek has now “identified a unique approach to handle high-performance metal alloys with their compact high-speed 3D print technologies”. With the number of 3D printing “startups” on crowdfunding platforms growing exponentially, this would imply that it is not inherently difficult to create a 3D printer. It is however, difficult to take a metal 3D printer from design phase to production in 5 months and expect it to compete against well capitalized 3D metal printing companies such as Arcam and Exone.
July 24, 2014
3 days later, Zecotek issued a press release stated “Zecotek Display Systems and the Institute of Chemical Physics Develop Metal Alloys for 3D Printing“. The release goes on to say:
Zecotek Display Systems Pte. Ltd. has signed an agreement with the Institute of Chemical Physics of the National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan, Armenia, to extend the list of high-performance powder metal alloys for use in its compact, high-speed 3D printer. The Institute will work with Zecotek and LT-Pyrkal to fine tune the advanced technology necessary for the fabrication of metal powders from metal hydride compounds.
Signing an agreement with an Armenian research institution to work on creating metal powders for 3D printing does not constitute a product offering either.
Unfortunately, issuing press releases of intent do not constitute a 3D printing company. We’ve seen too many companies try to “enter the 3D printing market” this way. Unless Zecotek (CVE:ZMS) can start driving revenues from real, commercialized 3D printing products, the answer to this question will continue to be no.