Sociotechnical alignment in biomedicine: The 3D bioprinting market beyond technology convergence

Edison Bicudo*, Alex Faulkner, Phoebe Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The nature of hybrid technologies has been frequently interpreted with the concept of technology convergence. However, this concept tends to highlight only technical aspects of technology and market evolution. In order to provide a more comprehensive picture, the concept of sociotechnical alignment is explored here. The field of 3D bioprinting (the production of biological structures with automated, computer-controlled bioprinters) is focused on here. In the emergent global bioprinting market, companies have relied on three core technologies (tissue engineering, additive manufacturing, and software development) and continue to receive inputs from other technologies. On the biological side, bioprinting has benefited from new approaches such as the use of induced pluripotent stem cells. On the engineering side, it has been possible to use relatively cheap technologies such as open-source processing Arduino boards. On the software side, the proliferation of open source packages has strengthened the possibilities of bioprinting. The combination between these and other technology fringes involves a process of sociotechnical alignment whereby technical, scientific, and political issues are always at play. As a result, different companies have been able to realize different market strategies, having varied geographical reach. However, the first movements towards extensive globalization can also be noticed. In this way, the current diversity of the bioprinting market may be jeopardized in the years to come.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101668
JournalTechnology in Society
Early online date15 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the Leverhulme Trust under the grant number 68387 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • 3D bioprinting
  • Arduino
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Open source software
  • Sociotechnical alignment
  • Technology convergence


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