NEW YORK (TheStreet) - After a strong rally in 2013, 3D printing companies have struggled in 2014. ExOne (XONE) and industry-leader 3D Systems (DDD) , for example, are down over 50% on the year. 

But Autodesk (ADSK) has sidestepped the brutal selloff, mostly because its 3D printing business isn't the only source of revenue for the company. However, Autodesk does have exposure to the industry and according to Carl Bass, CEO and president of Autodesk, that exposure is about to increase. (See Bass' interview with TheStreet here)

Currently, Autodesk's 3D printing software is the most popular design platform in the world. At least, for the industry. And while Bass wants the company's software to remain popular, he also acknowledged the company has its own 3D printer coming to the market. 

ADSK Chart
Autodesk ADSK data by YCharts

To the surprise of many, 3D printing has actually been around for a couple decades, Bass said. But now, it's hitting an inflection point, in terms of both price and capability. 3D printers can handle different material, such as plastic, rubber and even metal, which are used for printing objects like food and medical products. 

The industry is even taking on the science-fiction task of printing organs, a fantasy that could become reality within five to ten years. Of course, this task has only been undertaken in clinical settings and has a long way to go, but it demonstrates how much 3D printing is advancing. 

3D printing has the potential to completely disrupt the manufacturing process used today, Bass reasoned. Anyone with a 3D printer will be able to create and sell just about anything they want. 

Beyond that, 3D printers also provide more customization for the consumer. In other words, those not looking to design, print and sell their own works of art, can still customize existing products - like shoes or clothes - to make for the perfect look or fit. 

It's like watching the first automobiles come to market, as the horse-and-buggy days quickly became numbered, Bass said. 

Autodesk is one of five executive interviews TheStreet videotaped at the recent Techonomy conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif. Below are four others that are included in this series:

-- Written by Bret Kenwell

Follow @BretKenwell