Building the Layers of a New Manufacturing Taxonomy: How 3D Printing is Creating a New Landscape of Production Eco-systems and Competitive Dynamics

Chrystalla Kapetaniou, Alison Rieple*, Alan Pilkington, Thomas Frandsen, Paola Pisano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Recent innovations in 3D printing technologies and processes have influenced how products are designed, built and delivered. However, there is a significant gap in our knowledge of how 3D printing is impacting on manufacturing eco-systems within different industries and contexts. Drawing inspiration from earlier manufacturing taxonomies as well as the competitive dynamics literature which provides insights into industries' moves from straightforwardly rivalrous frameworks, through competitive-cooperative exemplars, into the more recent relational-based competition. Basing our analysis on a systematic review of organisations' use of 3D printing, we develop a new taxonomy explaining the many areas the technology can impact. In addition to offering a comprehensive framework to conceptualise the impact of 3D printing, we emphasise the role of users in co-creation and personalisation. While 3D printing has been touted as disruptive, we suggest that our new taxonomy offers a richer understanding of the ways firms can operate in a 3D printing context. We furthermore apply the relational competition category of the competitive dynamics model to our taxonomy, showing how 3D printing influences the modes and aims of competition, roster of actors and action toolkits within the different industry sectors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Pages (from-to)22-35
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • 3D printing
  • Competitive dynamics
  • Industrial taxonomies
  • Production ecosystems

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