How Ford, Airbus, and GE Use 3D Printing for Competitive Advantage

Assess your 3D capabilities.


You haven’t met them yet, but those cute, boxy 3D printers we’ve grown used to have some scary-looking relatives that are already changing manufacturing.



Indeed, by 2030, 35% of global economic output will be affected by 3D printing, according to SAP.



Ford slashes prototyping time

Airbus radically reduces material waste

GE consolidates parts while making them stronger


At Ford, a traditional part prototype takes 8 to 16 weeks and can cost over US$100,000. With 3D printing, Ford can produce, assemble, and prep it for testing in less than a week for just a few thousand dollars.

Source: “Harold Sears, additive manufacturing technical expert, Ford Motor Co.”

With traditional manufacturing techniques, Airbus needs 300 tons of material to build 32 tons of parts. 3D printing requires just 30 tons of metal powder.

Source: “Peter Sander, vice president, emerging technology and concepts, Airbus”

GE Aviation has created a fuel nozzle that consolidates 20 parts into 1, while making the assembly five times more durable.

Source: “Tom Sinnett, applications manager, Additive Development Center, GE Aviation”



As 3D printing causes barriers to entry to fall, smaller companies will challenge larger manufacturers with new business models that create a competitive advantage. To counter that, larger manufacturers should start preparing now with a situational assessment:


1-01Determine the drivers for 3D printing in your industry.


2-01Calculate the effects 3D printing could have on the supply chain, manufacturing, assembly, and other areas of the business.


3-01Decide which components would benefit from being redesigned to take full advantage of additive manufacturing approaches.



download arrowTo learn more about how 3D printing will change manufacturing and business models, download the in-depth report Ways 3D Printing Will Disrupt Manufacturing in the Next 5 Years – and Beyond and the expert Q&A What Business Models Will Emerge Around 3D Printing?


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