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Unlocking value for a circular economy through 3D printing: A research agenda

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  • Despeisse, M.
  • Baumers, M.
  • Brown, P.
  • Charnley, F.
  • Ford, S.J.
  • Garmulewicz, A.
  • Knowles, S.
  • Minshall, T.H.W.
  • Mortara, L.
  • Reed-Tsochas, F.P.
  • Rowley, J.

Abstract

The circular economy (CE) aims to radically improve resource efficiency by eliminating the concept of waste and leading to a shift away from the linear take-make-waste model. In a CE, resources are flowing in a circular manner either in a biocycle (biomass) or technocycle (inorganic materials). While early studies indicate that 3D printing (3DP) holds substantial promise for sustainability and the creation of a CE, there is no guarantee that it will do so. There is great uncertainty regarding whether the current trajectory of 3DP adoption is creating more circular material flows or if it is leading to an alternative scenario in which less eco-efficient localised production, demands for customised goods, and a higher rate of product obsolescence combine to bring about increased resource consumption. It is critical that CE principles are embedded into the new manufacturing system before the adoption of 3DP reaches a critical inflection point in which negative practices become entrenched. This paper, authored by both academic and industry experts, proposes a research agenda to determine enablers and barriers for 3DP to achieve a CE. We explore the two following overarching questions to discover what specific issues they entail: (1) How can a more distributed manufacturing system based on 3DP create a circular economy of closed-loop material flows? (2) What are the barriers to a circular 3D printing economy? We specifically examine six areas—design, supply chains, information flows, entrepreneurship, business models and education—with the aim of formulating a research agenda to enable 3DP to reach its full potential for a CE.

Suggested Citation

  • Despeisse, M. & Baumers, M. & Brown, P. & Charnley, F. & Ford, S.J. & Garmulewicz, A. & Knowles, S. & Minshall, T.H.W. & Mortara, L. & Reed-Tsochas, F.P. & Rowley, J., 2017. "Unlocking value for a circular economy through 3D printing: A research agenda," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 75-84.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:tefoso:v:115:y:2017:i:c:p:75-84
    DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2016.09.021
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    Cited by:

    1. Yeh, Ching-Chiang & Chen, Yi-Fan, 2018. "Critical success factors for adoption of 3D printing," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 209-216.
    2. Sebastian-Ion Ceptureanu & Eduard-Gabriel Ceptureanu & Raphael Gert Denis Murswieck, 2018. "Perceptions of Circular Business Models in SMEs," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 20(48), pages 310-310.
    3. Harshad Chandrakant Sonar & Vivek Khanzode & Milind Akarte, 2020. "A Conceptual Framework on Implementing Additive Manufacturing Technology Towards Firm Competitiveness," International Journal of Global Business and Competitiveness, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 121-135, December.
    4. Pessoa, S. & Guimarães, A.S. & Lucas, S.S. & Simões, N., 2021. "3D printing in the construction industry - A systematic review of the thermal performance in buildings," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 141(C).
    5. Beltagui, Ahmad & Sesis, Achilleas & Stylos, Nikolaos, 2021. "A bricolage perspective on democratising innovation: The case of 3D printing in makerspaces," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 163(C).
    6. Yadav, Dinesh & Garg, Ramesh Kumar & Ahlawat, Akash & Chhabra, Deepak, 2020. "3D printable biomaterials for orthopedic implants: Solution for sustainable and circular economy," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    7. Jabbour, Charbel Jose Chiappetta & Jabbour, Ana Beatriz Lopes de Sousa & Sarkis, Joseph & Filho, Moacir Godinho, 2019. "Unlocking the circular economy through new business models based on large-scale data: An integrative framework and research agenda," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 546-552.
    8. Holzmann, Patrick & Breitenecker, Robert J. & Schwarz, Erich J. & Gregori, Patrick, 2020. "Business model design for novel technologies in nascent industries: An investigation of 3D printing service providers," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 159(C).
    9. Patwa, Nitin & Sivarajah, Uthayasankar & Seetharaman, Arumugam & Sarkar, Sabyasachi & Maiti, Kausik & Hingorani, Kunal, 2021. "Towards a circular economy: An emerging economies context," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 725-735.
    10. repec:aud:audfin:v:20:y:2018:i:48:p:310 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Inês Ribeiro & Florinda Matos & Celeste Jacinto & Hafiz Salman & Gonçalo Cardeal & Helena Carvalho & Radu Godina & Paulo Peças, 2020. "Framework for Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment of Additive Manufacturing," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(3), pages 1-22, January.
    12. Modgil, Sachin & Gupta, Shivam & Sivarajah, Uthayasankar & Bhushan, Bharat, 2021. "Big data-enabled large-scale group decision making for circular economy: An emerging market context," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 166(C).
    13. Beltagui, Ahmad & Kunz, Nathan & Gold, Stefan, 2020. "The role of 3D printing and open design on adoption of socially sustainable supply chain innovation," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 221(C).
    14. Bauwens, Thomas & Hekkert, Marko & Kirchherr, Julian, 2020. "Circular futures: What Will They Look Like?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 175(C).
    15. Gupta, Shivam & Chen, Haozhe & Hazen, Benjamin T. & Kaur, Sarabjot & Santibañez Gonzalez, Ernesto D.R., 2019. "Circular economy and big data analytics: A stakeholder perspective," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 466-474.
    16. Rayna, Thierry & Striukova, Ludmila, 2021. "Assessing the effect of 3D printing technologies on entrepreneurship: An exploratory study," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 164(C).
    17. D'Adamo, Idiano & Gastaldi, Massimo & Rosa, Paolo, 2020. "Recycling of end-of-life vehicles: Assessing trends and performances in Europe," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 152(C).
    18. Maresch, Daniela & Gartner, Johannes, 2020. "Make disruptive technological change happen - The case of additive manufacturing," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 155(C).
    19. Naghshineh, Bardia & Ribeiro, André & Jacinto, Celeste & Carvalho, Helena, 2021. "Social impacts of additive manufacturing: A stakeholder-driven framework," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 164(C).

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