Digital Fabrication (3-D printing)

The group will investigate 3-dimensional printing from a managerial perspective: How can organizations strategically exploit 3-D printing technologies? 

3-D Printing:

According to

“The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.”

Source: viewed July 7 2016.


Your group might structure the presentation as follows:

I. Overview of 3-D printing:

Your group’s job would be to explain to general managers the business value of the 3-D printing. Specifically, the group should address:

*      Size of market, dollars spent on 3-D printing

*      Brief history of 3-D printing (no more than 2 slides)

*      Explanation of how 3-D printing works

*      Promised business benefits of 3-D printing

*      Future of 3-D printing

*      Limitations or controversies of 3-D printing




II.  Applications of 3-D printing:


Much of the presentation could focus on really cool and innovative applications of 3-D printing.  There are so many industries that will be affected by this from medicine (3-D printing human cells!) fashion design, space station/aviation, industrial and consumer applications.  I saw a really fascinating example of 3-D fashion at the Boston Museum of fine art. Here was a famous piece:


Model in digitally printed cape 

Source: viewed July 14 2016


Industrial sized 3-D printers built a bridge in Amsterdam:



The group should do at least 3 interviews; All sorts of organizations use 3-D printing and it should be easy to find people who understand the 3-D printing application and the business impact of the 3-D printing application.


III.  Lessons Learned or Best Practices


The group might end the presentation on best practices for effective 3-D printing systems, then map how your examples fit into best practices.  This is essentially a cross-case or cross-example comparison that integrates your primary (interviews) and secondary (journal articles & books) research.

If you have other creative ideas, please feel free to discuss them with me.