The convergence of 3D printing (additive manufacturing) with developments like open source licensing, repositories to share 3D data and files, and platforms to access manufacturing capacity has created an environment where innovation is flourishing, but also where current regulatory schemes and business models are ill equipped to deal with this changing landscape. While 3D printing has been largely covered by research from the engineering discipline, currently also management scholars and economists are starting to join the debate. Still, economic analysis of AM is scare and has predominantly focused on production cost or other firm level aspects, but has neglected the study of AM on customer welfare and market structure.
In our research, we strive to explore the field and to better understand the economic perspectives of additive manufacturing. In one stream of our research, for example, we are studying how AM enables a more local production by users, supplementing the recent development of an upcoming infrastructure for innovating users and „makers“.
In particular, we research
- How additive manufacturing changes market structure and competitive dynamics in an industry;
- How consumers and users evaluate the opportunities provided by AM, or: How does 3D printing contribute to consumer value?
- The connections of additive manufacturing and user/open innovation;
- How 3D Printing becomes a trigger for business model innovation and what are patterns of 3D Printing Business Models .
This research is as part of the RWTH Cluster of Excellence „Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries“ (http://www.production-research.de), a €70 million research program between five schools and more than 100 researchers at RWTH Aachen.