Additive Manufacturing: Currently a Disruptive Supply Chain Innovation?


  • Per Engelseth1 (Tromsø School of Business and Economics, Norway)
  • Maryam Salman1 (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway)
  • Waqas Mushtaq1 (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway)
  • Fahad Awaleh1 (Kristiania University College, Norway)
  • Remiguisz Kozlowski1 (University of Lodz, Poland)
  • Richard Glavee-Geo1 (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway)

Directs attention to additive manufacturing in a supply chain context. Analysis questions the degree it currently is a disruptive innovation. A case study consisting of interviews with 15 companies, including observations of some of these companies, providing a varied set of subcases. The research describes individual companies’ histories of using 3D printing tools, its current use and future prospects, as perceived by various informants. In the supply chain, additive manufacturing moves production closer to the product user, albeit currently on a small scale. Some firms are already specializing in providing additive manufacturing as a service. Networking and sourcing emerge as increasingly important issues to govern the development and use of additive manufacturing technology in the value chain of each studied company. Findings reveal how additive manufacturing at current is in its infancy and has limited impact on the networked production structure: it has not yet reached the stage of being a disruptive innovation. Investigation also reveals perceptions on how additive manufacturing in the near future may change the logistics flow structure in global supply chains, then becoming a disruptive innovation.

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