Transitioning 3D Printing from Niche to Mainstream Markets

Research Workshop | École Polytechnique | Paris 1 June 2018
Conference chairs: ThierryRayna (École Polytechnique), 
Joel West (KGI),
 Frank Piller (RWTH Aachen)
The potential economic impacts of 3D printing (or “additive manufacturing”) have attracted considerable attention in recent years. For example, in 2011 the publisher of Forbes predicted that 3D printing would become the “transformative technology of the 2015–2025 period” (Karlgraad, 2011). Likewise, the editor of Wired forecasted that the “desktop manufacturing revolution [would] change the world as much as the personal computer did” (Anderson, 2012). 3D printing is also acknowledged as a key component of the digitalization of manufacturing, sometimes also called Industry 4.0.

In the past decade, business researchers have highlighted the transformative effects of such digital fabrication technologies. For example, Ford and Despeisse (2016) concluded that 3D printing has the potential to enable sustainable manufacturing, hereby promoting the shift towards a circular economy (Despeisse et al., 2017) and reaching global sustainability (Gebler et al., 2014). Additive manufacturing creates new rules of competition including “economies of one” (Petrick and Simpson, 2013) and accelerating mass customisation (Jiang et al., 2017).
Researchers have also examined how existing management and other theories are affected by 3D printing. Additive manufacturing technologies have the potential to reconfigure business models (Rayna and Striukova, 2016), supply chains (Bogers et al., 2016), and market structure (Weller et al., 2015). On-demand digital fabrication makes it possible to collaborate online to produce tangible objects (West and Kuk, 2016) and promote open and user innovation (Rayna et al., 2015). At the same time, the end goal of producing hardware and other physical objects changes the nature both of online collaboration (Raasch et al., 2009) and entrepreneurship enabled by online communities (Greul et al., 2017).
Thus, despite the potentially broad impacts of 3D printing and this emerging body of research, many important questions remain (Ford et al., 2016). In particular, three decades since the first 3D printers were sold, most of the business successes have been in low-volume niche markets. More compelling applications and use cases are needed if 3D printing is to cross the chasm, grow and become a mainstream technology (Moore, 2005).
This workshop will continue the trajectory begun four years earlier at the 2014 “The Business and Economic Impact of 3D Printing” workshop hosted by RTWH Aachen.
Possible topics include:
  • Challenges and opportunities for mainstream adoption of 3D printing
  • New business models enabled by 3D printing
  • Identifying and overcoming key user barriers to adoption
  • Impact of widespread 3D printing adoption on competitive dynamics and market structure
  • Interactions and interdependencies between digital and physical design collaboration
  • Impact of 3D printing in the R&D-manufacturing interface
  • Impacts of rapid prototyping tools on NPD teams and organizations
  • Policies for promotion and use of 3D printing
  • Broader societal impacts of additive manufacturing
  • Challenges to organizational theories in a world of ubiquitous digital fabrication
We welcome a wide range of empirical and theoretical research related to the business and economic aspects of digital fabrication. Papers and presentations should be oriented towards a general innovation and technology management audience (as might be found at AOM, DRUID, or EURAM), and not at experts in 3D printing technologies. Early stage research is encouraged.

Submitting a Paper

Abstracts must be submitted by 31 Jan 2018. For formatting requirements or to submit a paper, see the submission page.