Beyond the Obvious: A Framework for Exploiting the Impact of 3D Printing

This paper reports the development of an alternative framework to help firms asses the role of additive manufacturing within their technology management strategy. Despite much recent attention, there has been little work to identify and classify the ways in which additive manufacturing or 3D printing is used as a strategic weapon for competitive advantage. It is not just a way of reducing supply chain lead time as striking examples are emerging of firms employing more radical business opportunities and innovative design techniques available. We review the existing literature on the technology application, examine the classic nozzle case study to identify previously undocumented opportunities from the technology, and add a new case of a firm with a more holistic and strategic focus. We argue that a multidimensional model is required to classify the various opportunities available and current understanding needs to be widened for firms to take full advantage.

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