3D printing has attracted significant media attention recently, especially after U.S. President Barack Obama, in his 2013 State of the Union address, emphasised the critical role of 3D printing in strengthening manufacturing, scientific, defence and energy sectors.
Beforehand, the strong potential of 3D printing was emphasised by Rich Karlgraad (Forbes magazine) who noted in 2011 that with 3D printing prices experiencing the same sharp decline in cost that 2D printers did in the 1980s, 3D printing would become the “transformative technology of the 2015–2025 period”. Likewise, Chris Anderson (Wired) speculated in 2012 that the “desktop manufacturing revolution […] will change the world as much as the personal computer did”.
Yet, just like any radical innovation, 3D printing technologies will be highly disruptive for many industries, especially those involved in manufacturing. It is very likely that many aspects of the design, production and business processes will have to be entirely rethought. 3D printing technologies undoubtedly provide unprecedented opportunities for our economies, but also raise significant challenges.
The aim of this special issue is, precisely, to address the challenges and opportunities brought about by 3D printing technologies. How will such technologies change manufacturing processes? How will they affect manufacturing businesses? What does the increased participation of consumers in the production processes mean for companies? What are the ways for companies to take advantage of 3D printing, while minimising its disruptive effects? Will 3D printing technologies enable a new form of entrepreneurship?
At a time when major companies (eBay, Amazon, Staples) are jumping on the 3D printing bandwagon, finding answers to these questions is a crucial matter.
Suitable topics include but are not limited to:
- 3D printing as a prototyping method/technology
- New business models for manufacturers
- Organisational and structural change caused by 3D printing technologies
- Co-creation with users
- Manufacturing crowdsourcing and crowdfunding
- 3D printing and open innovation
- Changes in the supply chain
- 3D printing as a virtual enterprise enabler
- 3D printing and changes in manufacturing localisation
- Product development and rapid prototyping
- 3D printing, green manufacturing and sustainable development
- 3D printing and the digital economy
Submission of manuscripts: 15 June, 2014