Lightweighting is an effective strategy for saving resources while maintaining or enhancing performance. Lighter airplanes and vehicles, for example, use less fuel. Lighter, thinner food packaging requires fewer materials to make. Lighter products save fuel during shipping. But developing new techniques or materials for lightweighting requires investment and risk. How do business leaders decide when that investment makes sense? How do the prospects of rising resource constraints and higher fuel prices factor into the decision? Is developing a new application for a material, one that might perform as well as conventional materials while using fewer resources, worth the risk? The decision makers at GE seem to think so. The company is developing new techniques for composite materials, building parts by hand in a slow, labor-intensive process and learning along the way. Its competitors are focusing on new engine designs rather than new materials. If GE succeeds, it will have an edge over the competition not only because its planes will be lighter and are projected to have lower maintenance costs, but also because it will have developed important lightweighting expertise for other applications. In what other industries do you see similar stories playing out – where some companies are opting to make current technologies as efficient as possible while others are developing new methods and materials? [contact-form 2 "ResourceFix Tip Contact Form"]

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