Assessing the Impact of 3D-printing on the Innovation Process: A Managerial Guide to Benefitting from Additive Manufacturing

Mikkel L. Stockfleth, Mikkel Sørseth & Jørgen Wingård

Student thesis: Master thesis


Purpose: Advancement in three-dimensional printing (3DP) or additive manufacturing (AM) technology has consequences for how firms innovate. Research on these consequences of the overall innovation process is however limited. The purpose of this paper is to explore how firms can benefit from implementing AM technology in its innovation processes. Methodology: We adopt a pragmatic lens and a abductive methodological approach to theory development. In doing so, we analyse the impact of AM technology following a qualitative multi-method study, drawing on both descriptive and explanatory analysis of available secondary data to achieve triangulation. Furthermore, we show the relevance of our findings for practitioners by conducting an illustrative case study. Findings: Findings show that the implementation of AM enables new avenues for value creation, but increases the complexity of value capture in innovation processes. AM was also shown to improve ideation tools, reduce risk in innovation processes, and to effectivize implementation of ideas. Research limitations: The credibility of our analysis is based on subjective interpretation of causal relationships, it can thus be debated whether we are establishing actual causal relationships. We argue for a certain degree of transferability to other technological settings, but acknowledge limitations stemming from potential weaknesses in the dependability and credibility of our data collection and analysis. Practical implications: The practical value of our research is related to its employability in existing innovation practises. We bring forth how AM influences existing practises within innovation management, and discuss the subsequent practical considerations. Originality/value: There are few empirical studies that explore the effect adopting AM have on innovation processes. This paper brings value to the area of managing AM innovations, especially with regards to illuminating how AM impacts a firm's ability to generate, select, and implement novel concepts - an original approach that until now had yet to be explored.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages165