3D printing, makerspaces and innovation: a bricolage perspective

Ahmad Beltagui, Achilleas Sesis, Nikolaos Stylos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

The aim of this research is to understand how 3D printing is used by independent
innovators, in the context of makerspaces, to generate innovations. 3D printing refers
to digital fabrication technologies that are increasingly affordable and accessible.
Makerspaces allow communities of individuals to share access to such technologies,
learn to use them and to develop their social capital. The objectives of the research are
1) to understand the motivations of innovators who use 3D printing and makerspaces;
and 2) to explain the role that 3D printing and makerspaces can play in commercial
innovation. The study presents case research involving individual innovators who were
identified through ethnographic fieldwork in a number of makerspaces. The research
draws on theory in the area of bricolage – an approach to innovation that emphasises
experimentation, improvisation and networking to overcome resource-constraints. We
find evidence that makerspace users adopt such an approach, for example accessing
technologies and knowledge. And we demonstrate how 3D printing is used to produce
non-standard parts that are combined with available components, when required
resources are out of reach. This research contributes to knowledge and practice, by
showing that 3D printing is used to fill gaps, by creating non-standard or otherwise
unobtainable parts, in combination with other available resources. Makerspaces help
innovators to overcome their resource constraints, but also play a crucial role in sharing
knowledge, to help individuals innovate. The implications for practice centre on the
innovative potential for product innovation to follow the approaches that are now
standard in software development – the research therefore illuminates the changing role
of innovation in the digital age.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Product Development Management Conference
Place of PublicationLeicester
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2019
Event26TH IPDMC: INNOVATION AND PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE - Leicester, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Jun 201911 Jun 2019

Conference

Conference26TH IPDMC: INNOVATION AND PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityLeicester
Period10/06/1911/06/19

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors
Funding: We acknowledge the support of the British Academy and
Leverhulme for funding, provided under the Small Research Grant scheme
(SRG\171063).

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  • Cite this

    Beltagui, A., Sesis, A., & Stylos, N. (2019). 3D printing, makerspaces and innovation: a bricolage perspective. In International Product Development Management Conference