Effective use of 3D printing in the innovation process

Marina Candi*, Ahmad Beltagui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Three-dimensional printing (3DP) is touted as a core element of a new industrial revolution, in which digitization, information and connectivity transform product innovation. However, while the purported benefits of 3DP are compelling, existing research suggests that the expected benefits of advanced manufacturing technologies are rarely realized in practice. This research addresses the timely question of how to make effective use of a new digital technology. A theoretical framework based on Resource Orchestration Theory is used to analyze survey data collected from 177 US firms that use 3DP for innovation. Internal and external moderators of the relationship between the use of 3DP in innovation and performance are identified. Orchestration, measured as the level of coordination between information technology and manufacturing functions, and technological turbulence, are both found to act as positive moderators. These results indicate that adopting 3DP for innovation brings greater benefits to firms that orchestrate the functions involved in its implementation and use. In other words, how resources such as 3DP are used is at least as important as possessing them. Furthermore, 3DP is likely to be more effective in environments facing external uncertainty than under less turbulent conditions. With manufacturing becoming increasingly digitized, these results offer implications for future innovations in manufacturing technology.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date7 Jun 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jun 2018


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