A few months ago, I had the opportunity to speak with Steve Liguori, executive director of global innovation at General Electric (NYSE:GE). We talked about how GE uses 3-D printing in its operations and why it sees so much promise in the technology. During our conversation, Steve highlighted on one particularly interesting point that I think makes GE one of the most important companies involved with 3-D printing: GE hacks its 3-D printers.

GE will buy a top of the line 3-D printer that's capable of 3-D printing metal aviation components and will literally take the printer apart to push the technical boundaries of the device to better meet its. It'll then report back to the manufacturer what it did to the printer, which ultimately improves the technology for the entire industry. In other words, meeting customer needs is what's driving the industry forward.

In the following video, 3-D printing analyst Steve Heller tells investors why GE could easily be the most important name in 3-D printing. Going forward, watch how GE uses 3-D printing to see which 3-D printing technologies emerge as the most important.

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