This paper aims to investigate the manufacturing strategies for the manufacturing systems in the context of 3D printing, referring to ecosystem-based manufacturing systems, rather than firm-based and network-based ones. A case study approach was adopted for this research, as the data was mainly collected via semi-structured interviews with staff members of companies in China. Besides the elements of strategic choices and manufacturing capabilities identified in the extant literature, this research verified three additional strategic choice elements (functional role, platform and solution) and identified two factors (platform openness and solution diversity) to classify an ecosystem-based manufacturing system. Meanwhile, four manufacturing capabilities of the ecosystem-based manufacturing system have been identified: collaborative manufacturing flexibility, rapid thriftiness ability, self-customisation and co-evolved design capability. The research results contribute to the area of manufacturing strategy via expanding its view from the firm and network levels to the ecosystem level. Meanwhile, the research results present operations managers with an understanding of the strategic choices and manufacturing capabilities of an ecosystem-based manufacturing system in the context of 3D printing.