Daimler, a German multinational automotive manufacturer, is driving innovation in the automobile industry through the use of additive manufacturing (“AM”). AM has the potential to revolutionize the automotive industry and the manufacturers are currently exploring AM as part of their production process in two major ways:
For driving product innovation: 3-D printing can allow automotive companies to experiment with prototypes at a much faster rate and produce a wide variety of prototypes, some which are not entirely possible through the existing manufacturing procedures. According to a research report by Deloitte, “Additive manufacturing can produce components with fewer design restrictions that often constrain more traditional manufacturing processes. This flexibility is extremely useful while manufacturing products with custom features, making it possible to add improved functionalities such as integrated electrical wiring, lower weight, and complex geometries that are not possible through traditional processes.” 
As a driver of supply chain transformation: Manufacturers have an opportunity to produce some of the final components used for its automobiles using additive manufacturing processes. This will allow the company to reduce overall time to market for its products. Furthermore, AM-manufactured light- weight components can lower handling costs, while on-demand and on-location production can lower inventory costs. For example, with additive manufacturing, Ford replaced the traditional process for developing a prototype of an engine manifold that would have cost $500k and four months to being able to develop multiple iterations of the component in just for days with a cost of $3k.  Finally, AM can support decentralized production at low to medium volumes. This will allow companies to produce more models that can be customized to customer specific requirements without having to deploy a huge amount of capital expenditure. Additive manufacturing enabled mass-customization has the potential to become a key differentiator for major players in the automotive industry.
Together, product innovation and supply chain transformation have the potential to alter the business models of automotive companies.
Daimler is currently using additive manufacturing in the following ways:
- Daimler has to customize its bus lines for its customer all over the globe. These customizations are primarily driven by different regional and regulatory requirements. Daimler has started using additive manufacturing to produce parts for its Setra bus line.  To date, Daimler Buses has 3D printed over 780 spare and final parts. These have included drawers, cover moldings, retaining strips, adapters, and surround rings. In addition, more than 150 different replacement parts for buses are currently being validated in regard to their feasibility as 3D printed parts.
- Mercedes (owned by Daimler) started printing 30 plastic replacement parts for its Actros series trucks in Europe with more to come as the standard production method in its Customer Services & Parts sector.  Mercedes has made tremendous progress with its AM capabilities and is now able profitably print only 1 part instead of having to print a batch of the parts and keep the rest in inventory. This has also allowed Mercedes to lower its shipping and handling costs as the AD printers can be placed closed to the end destination of the final parts. 
- Daimler formed a partnership with Premium Aerotec, an aerospace 3D supplier, to move into metal based additive manufacturing.  In August, 2017, Daimler announced that aluminum 3-D printing passed its internal quality assurance test, and that Daimler will be printing its first metal 3D printed spare part, a thermostat cover, for an older model Mercedes truck. 
Some more steps that Daimler can take to enhance its additive manufacturing strategy:
- A major hindrance to wide-spread implementation of 3D printing is the speed of production.  Currently, the printers can take several hours to put together a single piece. Additionally, these 3D printers do not process the ability to manufacture some of the larger parts required by automotive companies, which still have to be welded together using the smaller printouts.  Daimler has an opportunity to position itself as a top player in the automotive industry if it can partner with research organizations and academic institutions to solve these issues.
- Additionally, Daimler should focus on internally training its engineering talent in the use of additive manufacturing software. With the expansion of AM applications, there will be a greater need for formal and extensive training and skill development programs in the application and management of AM. 
Key considerations for automotive manufacturers include:
How will traditional manufacturing evolve as the automotive industry moves towards increase adaption of latest technology and what roles will employees play in the future? What can automotive companies do in order to train their employees to make sure they have the right talent when the additive manufacturing technology becomes fully viable?
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 Deloitte United States. “3D Opportunity for the Automotive Industry.”
www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/focus/3d-opportunity/additive-manufacturing-3d-opportunity-in-automotive.html, accessed November 2018.
 Evercore ISI. “Additive Manufacturing – Another Lever For Companies To Pull Over The Next Decade?”, February 2018.
 Scott J Grunewald. “3D Printing Will Help Mercedes-Benz Trucks Deliver Thousands of Replacement Parts On Demand.”
https://3dprint.com/142207/mercedes-benz-trucks-parts/, accessed November 2018.
 Daimler. “NextGenAM: Taking major steps into the next generation of industrial 3D printing: Partner project involving Premium AEROTEC, Daimler, and EOS for developing series additive manufacturing reaches new milestone.”
https://media.daimler.com/marsMediaSite/en/instance/ko/NextGenAM-Taking-major-steps-into-the-next-generation-of-industrial-3D-printing-Partner-project-involving-Premium-AEROTEC-Daimler-and-EOS-for-developing-series-additive-manufacturing-reaches-new-milestone.xhtml?oid=40975902, accessed November 2018.
 Choon Wee Joel Lim, Kim Quy Le, Qingyang Lu, Chee How Wong, “An Overview of 3-D Printing in Manufacturing, Aerospace, and Automotive Industries”, 2016.