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Predicting the future of additive manufacturing: A Delphi study on economic and societal implications of 3D printing for 2030

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  • Jiang, Ruth
  • Kleer, Robin
  • Piller, Frank T.

Abstract

Additive manufacturing (colloquially: 3D printing) is a highly discussed topic. Previous research has argued that this technology not only has profound effects on manufacturing businesses but also on society, which demands new corporate strategies and policies alike. Thus, the development of reliable future scenarios is key for strategic planning and decision making as well as for future research. Dedicated academic studies in this field remain scarce. We present the results of an extensive Delphi survey on the future of additive manufacturing with a focus on its economic and societal implications in 2030. Via an initial round of extensive qualitative interviews and a Delphi-based analysis of 3510 quantitative estimations and 1172 qualitative comments from 65 experts, we were able to develop and validate 18 projections that were then clustered into a scenario for the most probable future. The scenario is built on the six Delphi projections with the highest consensus on the likelihood of occurrence. We complement this most probable scenario with a discussion on controversial, extreme scenarios. Based on these findings we derive implications for industry, policy, and future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Jiang, Ruth & Kleer, Robin & Piller, Frank T., 2017. "Predicting the future of additive manufacturing: A Delphi study on economic and societal implications of 3D printing for 2030," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 84-97.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:tefoso:v:117:y:2017:i:c:p:84-97
    DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2017.01.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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