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Purpose This contribution presents several insights on how disruptive technologies potentially impact the eco-performance of entire supply chains, by (1) providing performance improvements compared to existing technologies, (2) enabling more efficient manufacturing methods, and (3) affecting the entire structure of the supply chain. Design/methodology/approach To illustrate our position, a case from the construction sector is presented, for which the feasibility and impact of 3D printing technology has been studied. The empirical study focuses on the effect of the use of 3D printing technology on the building supply chain, aimed primarily at manufacturing companies in construction, but including suppliers, architects and designers as well. Findings 3D printing of concrete potentially provides several improvements in manufacturing performance, such as a shortening of lead times, integration of functions and allowing for reduced material usage, therefore possibly turning production steps within the construction supply chain obsolete while also reducing logistical and production efforts. Research limitations/implications Whether disruptive technologies other than 3D printing have a similar potential is unknown. Though the case study shows the potential of disruptive technologies in impacting supply chains, we realize that more empirical work is needed to understand the underlying mechanisms. Originality/value The originality of this paper lies in relating disruptive technological advancements to manufacturing technologies and transitions of supply chains’ eco-performance.
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Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management
How 3D printing technology changes the rules of the game: Insights from the
construction sector
Ivo Kothman Niels Faber
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To cite this document:
Ivo Kothman Niels Faber , (2016),"How 3D printing technology changes the rules of the game",
Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 27 Iss 7 pp. 932 - 943
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How 3D printing technology
changes the rules of the game
Insights from the construction sector
Ivo Kothman and Niels Faber
Lectoraat Business Development, Saxion University of Applied Sciences,
Deventer, The Netherlands
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to present several insights on how disruptive technologies
potentially impact the eco-performance of entire supply chains, by providing performance
improvements compared to existing technologies, enabling more efficient manufacturing methods
and affecting the entire structure of the supply chain.
Design/methodology/approach To illustrate the authorsposition, a case from the construction
sector is presented, for which the feasibility and impact of 3D printing technology has been studied.
The empirical study focuses on the effect of the use of 3D printing technology on the building supply
chain, aimed primarily at manufacturing companies in construction, but including suppliers, architects
and designers as well.
Findings 3D printing of concrete potentially provides several improvements in manufacturing
performance, such as a shortening of lead times, integration of functions and allowing for reduced
material usage, therefore possibly turning production steps within the construction supply chain
obsolete while also reducing logistical and production efforts.
Research limitations/implications Whether disruptive technologies other than 3D printing have
a similar potential is unknown. Though the case study shows the potential of disruptive technologies
in impacting supply chains, the authors realize that more empirical work is needed to understand the
underlying mechanisms.
Originality/value The originality of this paper lies in relating disruptive technological
advancements to manufacturing technologies and transitions of supply chainseco-performance.
Keywords Environmental impact, 3D printing, Supply chains, Disruptive technology
Paper type Conceptual paper
Technology has often been regarded as both panacea and root cause of societys
problems from the perspective of sustainable development (e.g. Davidson, 2001; Dunn,
1979; Goldsmith, 1972; Lau, 2010). Proponents focus on the role technology plays in
solving sustainability problems humanity is faced with. For example under the
umbrella of eco-efficiency, many technological advancements have been realized that
provide improved eco-performance compared to the technologies they substitute.
Opponents zoom in on the undesired ecological and societal side effects of technologies
currently in place. They also see the problems of eco-efficiency solutions, only
providing an improvement instead of a real solution. Eco-efficient solutions still depend
on the use of limited natural resources, and do not structurally change the way these
are depleted or the way raw materials are (not) regained from waste material.
Furthermore, a focus on technology solely is considered to be insufficient to come to
actual solutions. A change in the way society, and in particular production chains, are
organized is needed.
There are technologies that however cannot easily be placed in either of the two
camps. They are of a disruptive nature and have the potential of changing the rules of
Journal of Manufacturing
Technology Management
Vol. 27 No. 7, 2016
pp. 932-943
© Emerald Group PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/JMTM-01-2016-0010
Received 29 January 2016
Revised 29 June 2016
Accepted 8 July 2016
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Downloaded by Mr Ivo Kothman At 12:45 29 November 2016 (PT)
the game. Where many new technologies are replacements of obsolete ones, and
provide small to medium improvements (Anderson and Tushman, 1990), these
disruptive technologies have the potential to cause a transition of entire supply chains
and enable a far greater improvement in their eco-performance. Some technologies even
realize societal shifts in the way people organize themselves, for example with Web 2.0
technologies (Andriole, 2010; Belk, 2014; Bughin and Chui, 2010). Many people
maintain a reticent stance regarding disruptive technologies, as they challenge their
social and professional roles (Wheeler, 2011). But, this may cause people to miss the
way in which a disruptive technology can jump the boundaries of industries or markets
(Manyika et al., 2013), changing the rules of the game. We posit that by changing the
rules that it becomes possible to make a leap forward in eco-performance as well. When
considering sustainable production, there is a tendency for incremental improvements
(Hauschild et al., 2005). Design, methods for manufacturing and supply chain are
interlinked; a successful development in one dimension will require scoping all three
dimensions (Fixson, 2005, p. 346). With a disruptive technology like 3D printing comes
the opportunity to rethink the design and therefore the corresponding manufacturing
method. This enables a redesign of the supply chain. The disruptive nature implies a
change to the design, the manufacturing method and the supply chain at the same time,
giving far greater opportunity to improve eco-performance than would be possible
when making changes on just one area. Given the high rate of technological
advancement and the necessity to realize a far greater eco-performance of our society,
embracing disruptive technologies may hold the key.
In this contribution we share some insights in how disruptive technologies potentially
impact the eco-performance of entire supply chains, by providing significant
performance improvements compared to existing technologies, enabling alternative
manufacturing methods and affecting the entire structure of the supply chain, or the
larger system in which these operate. The former follows the traditional path of
technological substitution, bringing about only incremental improvements. The latter
form of impact however has larger implications. The question we aim to answer is which
causes and effects can be discerned that might determine a change in the structure of
supply chains and improve its eco-performance due to technological advancements.
The insights we provide originate from a study into the possible application of 3D
printing technology in construction. Although 3D printing technology has been around
for a while, its application in construction is still limited. Lim et al. (2012) mention the
use of the technology as a modeling tool, and the careful adoption for the production of
architectural components, particularly facades and walls. In spite of these exploratory
applications they remain fragmentary and full-scale use of 3D printing technology in
construction has not been observed so far (Wu et al., 2016). Additionally, Wu et al.
(2016) indicate that 3D printing technology may bring benefits to the construction
industry, but requires a better understanding in relation to building. The aim of the
project we studied was to determine the feasibility of 3D printing using concrete in
construction. Internationally, various parties have performed similar studies (Buswell
et al., 2007; Lim et al., 2012). Our focus has been on the effect of the use of 3D printing
technology on the building supply chain. The study was aimed primarily at
manufacturing companies in construction, but included suppliers, architects and
designers as well.
In the following three sections we develop our argument further. The next section
provides the background of technological change and what characterizes disruptive
technologies. The third section presents an illustrative case from the construction
from the
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sector in which the possibilities and limitations of 3D printing technology have been
studied. Our last section provides a general discussion and presents several directions
for further research.
The key concept of this paper is the term disruptive technology. Yet, what a disruptive
technology encompasses remains unclear. Is it the technology that presents a large step
forward when compared to other technologies? Or, do we need to judge its
disruptiveness on the possibilities the technology creates for applications? Or, does a
technology only receive the predicate disruptivebased on its use? And, does it
concern a singular technology or is there more to it? In order to provide clarity on the
term we deem it necessary to address these questions first, and provide our stance,
before we are able to explore the implications a disruptive technology might have in
relation to the transformation toward sustainable supply chains.
The term disruptive technologyis often posited as a technology that is able to
disrupt markets (Bower and Christensen, 1995). Organizations adopting a disruptive
technology gain such an advantage that they position themselves far ahead of their
competition. Adopting such a technology enables them to beat competitors that do not
use the disruptive technology, no matter how good these competitors perform.
Furthermore, a disruptive technology can incorporate a strong link between market
competition and customer needs (Christensen, 1997). Christensen describes disruptive
technology as a new way to fulfill the needs of customers, or a viable market strategy.
Other uses of the term disruptive technology focus for instance on technologies that
have disruptive and detrimental effects on the eco-environment (e.g. Holdren and
Ehrlich, 1974) or envision these as innovations that potentially change life, business,
and the rules that apply in a global economy (e.g. Manyika et al., 2013).
In this paper we apply a combination of the provided perspectives on disruptive
technologies. We see these as technologies that have a potential to profoundly change
business and the way the interactions and transactions with consumers and suppliers
are organized. In our case, a disruptive technology brings about new methods of
manufacturing, which allows for new ways of designing and a change in the
corresponding supply chain. All three domains, product, process and supply chain, are
interlinked in the concurrent engineering method (Fixson, 2005). Technological
developments affect the product architecture and therefore impact the architecture of
both (manufacturing) process and supply chain (Fixson, 2005). It can therefore be
argued that a disruptive technology will impose a disruption in all three architectures.
In this changing of the rules of the game some additional characteristics or side
effects are discernible. We consider that disruptive technologies realize an
improvement of the eco-performance of business. When considering business
performance, it is the other way round. A characteristic of disruptive technology is
that it initially offers lower performance than existing solutions, when measured on the
performance indicators used to measure existing technology (Christensen, 1997). We
consider a disruptive technology to evoke a redistribution of jobs among workers, as
well as a change of roles and shift in required skills (Manyika et al., 2013). Demand for
low-skilled workers is expected to decline due to automation. In contrast, demand
for high-skilled workers rises, particularly for those who are able to interact with the
technologies at hand. Another characteristic that is observed is a continuing
democratization of the use of and access to the disruptive technology. New IT
capabilities level the playing field as they become accessible to the smallest enterprises,
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or even consumers themselves leading to the emergence of prosumers (Ritzer and
Jurgenson, 2010).
A complicating factor in identifying disruptive technologies is that these often do
not come as single entities. Mostly, disruptive technologies concern a combination of
multiple technologies that, through combination, enhance each other (Manyika et al.,
2013). In this way, a disruptive technology may very well consist of a collection of
technologies that by themselves are incremental. It is in their combination that they
obtain their disruptive property. In the end, whether a technology or combination of
technologies will be disruptive depends strongly on the context in which it is
introduced. In manufacturing, the mentioned characteristics also have been observed
(Brettel and Friederichsen, 2014, p. 37).
The impact of a disruptive technology as we describe it can be directly related to the
business of manufacturing. A technology can be considered disruptive if multiple
effects are reflected in a single company. Over the years, many studies on the effects of
innovation, digitization and robots on manufacturing have addressed the possibly
disruptive nature of technology in relation to the way businesses operate (e.g.
Abernathy and Clark, 1993; Brettel and Friederichsen, 2014) linking to the
characteristics of disruptive technologies that we discern, they can all be directly
related to the way a company operates and the applicable manufacturing method.
When considering supply chains, the general view is that of multiple production
steps ranging from raw materials to the final product being purchased by the
consumer. Each step adds value to the product and requires workers with specific
skills. With a disruptive technology like 3D printing, the possibility arises of the
merging of consumer and producer roles into so-called prosumers (Ratto and Ree,
2012). When prosumers directly produce goods using the digital design and a 3D
printer, all steps between raw material and consumer become superfluous. The rules of
the game change as there is a shortening of the supply chain, possible de-specialization
of functions in the supply chain, integration of various value adding steps into one
highly complex function and a digitization of the production chain.
A supply chain can be defined as multiple firms, both upstream (i.e. supply) and
downstream (i.e. distribution), and the ultimate consumer(Mentzer et al., 2001).
Regarding the eco-performance of a supply chain, the performance indicators are
generally considered to be in accordance with Article 5 of EU-EMAS Regulation ( Jasch,
2000): Production output, raw material consumption, energy consumption, water
consumption, total waste, waste qualities, waste water and air emissions (Council of the
European Union, 2000). In general, performance indicators in literature match the
indicators as stated in ISO 14031 (Campos et al., 2015). Any improvement on one of
these indicators can be considered as an improvement in eco-performance. A supply
chain consists of multiple firms, which relates the eco-performance indicators to each
separate firm as well as the combination of firms. A true sustainable supply chain can
only be achieved if all parties involved in the supply chain collaborate in pursuing this
ideal (Chithambaranathan et al., 2015). Part of this collaboration is the sharing of
information (Fernando et al., 2016). Consequently, a shorter, less complex supply chain
with direct lines of communication instead of several brokers, is more eco-efficient.
An extensive case study conducted with Chinese automobile manufacturers has
shown that focusing on green supply chain management (GSCM) has only marginally
improved eco-performance (Zhu et al., 2007). Practices show that focusing on GSCM
results in small incremental steps to improve eco-performance, without any significant
changes to the structure of the supply chain (Bartlett and Trifilova, 2010; Zhu et al.,2007).
from the
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Companies seem to focus most on performance indicators related to legal requirements,
as they are forced to meet certain regulations (Campos et al., 2015). This adds to our idea
that only disruptive technological changes have the power to change the way products
are designed and manufactured at the same time, and therefore the structure of supply
chains, in such a way that eco-performance is improved significantly.
In the next section we provide an example to illustrate the possible impact of 3D
printing as a disruptive technology. The technology of 3D printing is a combination of
various underlying technologies, e.g. digital design and production, materials to
synthesize end-products, additive manufacturing (e.g. Campbell et al., 2012). Many of
the production steps found in traditional manufacturing chains are digitized and
compressed. Roughly, the manufacturing process in 3D printing is limited to design,
manufacturing and finishing. The example we present is set in the construction
domain, where the feasibility of 3D printing of concrete and the implications for the
building process have been studied simultaneously.
Illustrative case: 3D printing in construction
To illustrate the potential effects of a disruptive technology, we present a case on 3D
printing of concrete in construction, developed in a two-year research program on this
technology. As the technology behind 3D printing is further developed, engineers and
designers come up with new ways and materials to use in a 3D printer. Today, many
materials can be 3D printed,or used in an additive production processas it is
formally known (Gibson et al., 2010). Examples range from various kinds of plastics,
metal, glass, ceramics and food to even concrete. At this moment, 3D printing of
concrete is going through rapid developments, from proof-of-principles several years
ago to the first five-story apartment complex 3D printed using concrete by the Chinese
company Winsun early 2015 (Sevenson, 2015). There is still a long way to go before 3D
printing of concrete will be considered common household technology, but it holds the
promise of changing the landscape of construction.
The research fields of individualized production, end-to-end engineering in a virtual
process chain and production networks are related to Industry 4.0 (Brettel and
Friederichsen, 2014) or Smart Industry, Dutch Industry Fit for the Future (n.d.) as others
refer to it. With 3D printing, individualized products can be produced with (near) zero
marginal cost (Rifkin, 2014) and the construction is engineered in a virtual setting up to the
physical 3D printing process. As a result, production networks change and information is
spread in a digital form. Although Industry 4.0 currently lacks concise definition (Brettel
and Friederichsen 2014, p. 43), it is a widely used term for identifying the process and
effect of disruptive technologies on industrial activities. 3D printing fits all fields related to
Industry 4.0 and can therefore be regarded as a potential disruptive technology.
In construction in the Netherlands, the financial crisis of recent years has left its
mark. Although the residential market is expected to require one million additional
houses by 2040, construction companies are struggling to survive; prices are
increasingly under pressure. Often, houses are constructed using conceptual
construction techniques, where a predefined design is used on a large series. This
enables construction companies to construct many houses without having to adjust or
verify the design. Concrete pre-fab parts can be ordered in large quantities and allow
for quick construction on-site. Foundation, installation and creating the decorative
facade still require crafty workers. Many new districts are known as Vinex districts
(Vrom, 1988) and consist of entire streets facing identical residences, only distinguished
by house number and their front yard. Individualization of a house requires an
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architect, unique construction plans and materials, and specialized building plans.
The conceptual construction method is on average 42 percent faster than traditional
construction methods (Loman, 2015) and due to savings in hourly wages significantly
cheaper. The supply chain associated with traditional and conceptual construction
methods is visualized in Figure 1.
To analyze the potential of 3D printing of concrete, a two-year research program was
conducted at the Saxion University of Applied Sciences. Students of technical disciplines
have constructed a 3D concrete printer capable of printing roughly 1m
structures. On
the one hand, the printer was used to create repeatable results for testing the mixture,
technical properties of the printed concrete, and experiment with different, new forms of
constructing. These results are not within the scope of this paper. On the other hand, the
printer was built to be able to estimate the potential impact or disruptiveness of 3D
printing of concrete on the construction sector. Several companies were directly involved
with the project: architects, contractors, engineers and a specialist on mixing concrete
(Bussink, 2015; Hoek van Dijke, 2015; Loman, 2015). Several additional companies were
contacted for interviews and to discuss the results. Having an actual 3D printer to display
the technical possibilities was of great help in creating a lively discussion and supporting
the building of theory. Data were gathered in forms of technical data on the 3D printed
concrete, and through 15 interviews with involved parties.
When 3D printing of concrete reaches technological maturity, it can offer a way to
combine advantages of the conceptual construction techniques with those of traditional
building techniques while adding unique possibilities formerly unheard of with other
construction techniques. This can revolutionize the construction market and evoke
major changes such as individualization with minimum added cost, shorter time to
market, quicker and cheaper construction, and freedom of shape and integration of
functionality. Besides these market advantages, eco-performance of the supply chain is
improved as well. For both various underlying causes can be discerned.
First, an integration of roles enables the removal of various steps in the design
process. In the regular design process, according to the various interviews, up to five
different parties including architects, engineers, contractors, clients and executive parties
are involved in designing and detailing concrete constructions. Design decisions need to
be consulted with all parties, making it a complicated and slow process (Loman, 2015).
With 3D printing of concrete, the architect is not only responsible for the design and
layout of a building, the structural integrity can be calculated as well using simulation
techniques on the CAD model. After finishing the CAD model, the architect can create
Processing to
Stock construction
materials Transportation
building contracter
Information exchange Information exchange
Physical distribution
Information exchange
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and supplies
Material management
stock Transport building
materials retailer
Transport building
materials wholesaler
Processing as
part or product
Information exchange
Information exchange
Stock product
and part
Information exchange
Processing to
final product
Stock final
Figure 1.
Traditional supply
from the
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the complementing printing instructions. The next step is 3D printing the construction.
Many roles of the traditional design process combine into one with 3D printing of
concrete. Further, the consumer can use the visual representation of the construction to
evaluate the design. Any changes can be visually verified and directly implemented in
the design. The integration of roles allows for a shorter supply chain.
Second, on-site printing of elements results in the removal of several logistical
processes, as well as preparation tasks. With traditional construction, a house in the
Netherlands is usually built using brick-and-mortar or pre-fab concrete elements (Loman,
2015). Both methods require much preparation and logistical effort. With on-site printing
of concrete, the raw material is directly molded into a construction, not requiring wooden
molds as regular concrete would. Out of the parties which were interviewed, especially the
contractors where interested in on-site printing. They state that currently, using pre-fab
concrete elements, building parts always get damaged in transit (Loman, 2015). Damage
includes parts being chipped, cracked or marked. These damages have to be resolved
on-site and always result in additional labor for the contractor. Second, the contractors
explained that many parts need to be over-engineered to sustain transportation, giving
the need for more reinforcements than are required by the constructional specifications,
consequently adding costs. Third and last, secure transportation and hoisting requires
parts to have additional features, which necessitate post-assembly finishing works to be
carried out. On-site printing, the contractors imagine, can eliminate all these steps and
costs. The printing process and quality will need to be weather-independent to realize
on-site printing. Additional possibilities include 3D scanning of the building site and
automated printing of the foundation, removing the time consuming step of leveling and
measuring. Similar to the combination of roles, on-site printing reduces the number of
transportations needed for a build.
Third, the digitization of a large part of the production process gives rise to small
batches of complex products allowing for high levels of customization at minimal added
costs. It is estimated that with traditional building methods, individualizing the design of
a house can add up to 40 percent to its price (Loman, 2015). When building a complex
structure with many non-standardshapes and sizes, additional costs may increase
exponentially. The interviews revealed that especially architects are interested in the
possibility to customize designs without having to completely rethink construction
methods (Bussink, 2015; Hoek van Dijke, 2015; Loman, 2015). In the residential market,
constructing a house with the help of an architect is reserved for the richer part of the
population. According to architects and engineers, it is not necessarily the labor costs of
the architects that accounts for the increase in price. Moreover, this is caused by
adaptations to the construction methods. Removing that element from the equation could
possibly make an individualized house attainable for a far larger part of the population.
The architects think their role may change, giving them a relatively more important part
to play. With 3D printing of concrete, the actual shape that is printed is nearly irrelevant
to the costs. It would give many people the possibility to adjust the design of their
house to their individual requirements. In a way, this is a democratization of technology
potentially increasing satisfaction with the residents of 3D printed homes.
Fourth, the immediate integration of functions within printed elements reduces on-site
installation tasks. With regular construction, installation of heating systems, insulation,
running water and electricity require on-site installation tasks. With 3D printing of
concrete, some of these installation tasks may become superfluous as functions can be
directly integrated into the 3D printing process. Integrating pipes and wires was tested
during this research. However, these were integrated into the construction by hand in the
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actual printing process. It is realistic to assume this could be automated in the future.
Printing hollow constructions not only reduces the material that is required, it also offers
insulation. In the 3D printing tests, hollow walls were printed and tested. The structural
rigidity was found sufficient for application in houses with a 50-60 percent material
reduction in comparison to cast concrete. The actual increase in insulation was not
measured (Loman, 2015). 3D printed canals might be used to transport hot or cold water
to the desired part of the construction, allowing for heating or cooling of any part of the
building. This eliminates the need for separate installation of heating and cooling
systems. The transportation of fluids through canals in concrete was not tested and
remains hypothetical. Additionally, no materials are lost during installation implying a
reduction of waste. When 3D printing of concrete incorporates the integration of roles,
on-site printing, digital design and integration of functions, the corresponding supply
chain might look as is visualized in Figure 2.
Before reaching the potential future where it is possible to 3D print concrete houses,
several limitations need to be overcome. In this two-year research, some interesting
tests were conducted and actual results show it is technically possible to 3D print
concrete structures. Apart from technical discoveries, the most interesting insight
comes from the predicted impact on the construction sector and the respective roles of
the various companies that were involved. On the one hand, architects are very
interested in the technology and how it can increase their involvement in the residential
market. On the other hand, many employees of the contractors and executive parties
are skeptical and feel threatened by the technology, fearing construction will be taken
over by some engineers with laptops (Bussink, 2015; Hoek van Dijke, 2015).
In the light of sustainability, the effects of 3D printing of concrete are hard to judge
from the results of the research program. Sustainability in construction is often seen as
having the need to comply with regulations, instead of being a goal in itself (Loman,
2015). Rethinking the way the construction sector works, in order to improve
sustainability, will not happen without significant financial or technical incentives
(Hoek van Dijke, 2015). The disruptiveness 3D printing of concrete may hold could be
such an incentive.
When compared with traditional building techniques, 3D printing of concrete still
has a lower performance. This is typical for disruptive technologies (Christensen, 1997),
but we expect performance will gradually improve and surpass existing technologies
over time. When held against the ladder of technology readiness levels, 3D printing of
concrete is currently at stage 3: analysis and validation (Mankins, 1995). The quality of
the printed material needs to be improved, the accuracy is still insufficient and concrete
reinforcements need to be solved. Certification is a legal obstacle and one of the most
difficult obstacles that needs to be resolved (Loman, 2015).
Disruptive technologies are technologies that bring about a leap in performance, in
comparison to technologies they aim to replace or complement. Even though such
Stock of materials
and supplies
Stock construction
materials 3D printed concrete
to construction
Processing to
printable concrete
Information exchange Information exchange Information exchange
Material management Physical distribution
Figure 2.
Potential supply
chain of 3D printing
of concrete
from the
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technologies may consist of a collection of technologies that by themselves only
provide an incremental increase in performance. In the light of sustainability we deem
such leaps in performance improvement necessary, in order to make the changes that
are needed to turn around the problems of sustainability that global society faces. It is
the disruptiveness that allows or even forces companies to alter their methods for
design, manufacturing and the associated supply chains simultaneously. When given
the opportunity to improve eco-performance without too many limitations of existing
systems and methods, companies can move closer toward sustainability.
This position however is not shared by everyone. Critics strongly hold on to the
position that technology is the root cause of sustainability-related problems (e.g.
Davidson, 2001; Dunn, 1979; Goldsmith, 1972; Lau, 2010), and maybe rightfully so.
Although this position is understandable, it also withholds us from exploring the
potential of these technologies to actually provide an improvement of sustainability.
We think that the road ahead perhaps cannot do without the advancements these
disruptive technologies bring about.
Other authors have suggested alternate paths toward sustainable manufacturing,
including competitive sustainable manufacturing ( Jovane et al., 2009), including
environmental requirements throughout the design and development phase
(Kaebernick et al., 2003) and life cycle analysis (Hauschild et al., 2005). All three
methods transcend beyond manufacturing, including either the design phase, product
life cycle or extending design requirements. These approaches may deliver significant
increases in eco-performance of the product, manufacturing methods or indeed the
entire supply chain. They do not, however, suggest any structural changes to the way
products are designed, manufactured or the way supply chains are laid out. Therefore,
improvements in eco-performance will likely remain incremental. In comparison to
these traditional methods, disruptive technologies such as 3D printing may
revolutionize the supply chain, bringing about larger steps forward in eco-performance.
In this paper we posited that disruptive technologies have the potential to improve
the sustainability of supply chains. This may not be the case for all technologies
according to the original use of the term disruptive technology. For the technology of
3D printing we focus on in this paper, we have explored the potential to do so in the
construction industry. 3D printing fits the properties of a disruptive technology. 3D
printing is a combination of multiple technologies that have independently evolved,
and finally merged into one application. As shown in our case, it has the ability to bring
about an improvement of eco-performance of business. In our case, a construction
company may do with fewer transports, less use of raw material, and finally, reduce the
amount of waste of a build. Furthermore, a redistribution of jobs within the supply
chain is expected. Through digitization, many of the steps of the traditional chain
render obsolete. This digitization additionally creates the possibility for consumers to
personalize the designs in order to meet their desires. However, while 3D printing of
concrete for construction purposes is expected to have future potential, at this moment
the technology is at its infancy. Traditional technologies still outperform it. With the
necessity for sustainable development, further exploration of 3D printing of concrete, or
more generic, the application of 3D printing technology in construction will be
necessary to unleash its full potential.
The construction sector is an example of a sector were traditional methods linger
and old habits never die. Within manufacturing as a whole, companies tend to
stick to existing methods and principles. Improvements are made, but usually are
incremental and focus on being less bad.Arguments like we cannot change our
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method of design overnightor there are limitations to our supply chain we have to
adhereare often used to silence eco-critics. Instead of fearing the change disruptive
technologies may herald, manufacturing companies could embrace them and envision
the opportunity to revise the whole chain, from design to manufacturing to the supply
chain. The difficulty lies in recognizing the potential of technological advancements to
offer a patch toward sustainable manufacturing.
For future research, our initial thought that disruptive technologies are necessary to
create a sustainable development needs to be investigated more deeply. The case of 3D
printing in construction showed us some possible effects of a disruption in the whole
supply chain of construction. This effect however may be confined to this particular
technology. Whether other disruptive technologies have similar potential is unknown
and requires further research. In contrast, the alternative also needs further inquiry.
Namely, whether a similar effect in the eco-performance of supply chains could be
realized with incremental performance improvements. Based on developments that
have been observed so far, we can only hypothesize that the latter is not likely,
encouraging a further pursuit of research and technological development to realize a
sustainable society.
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1. OrttRoland Roland Ortt Roland Ortt (1964) is an Associate Professor of
Technology and Innovation Management at the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands.
Before joining the faculty of Technology Policy and Management Roland Ortt worked as a
R&D Manager for a Telecommunication Company. He authored articles in journals like the
Journal of Product Innovation Management, the Market Research Society and the International
Journal of Technology Management and has won several best-paper awards. His research focuses
on development and diffusion of high-tech products, and on niche-strategies to commercialize
these products. Roland is the Research Dean of the European NiTiM network of researchers in
Innovation and Technology Management. Faculty Technology, Policy and Management, Delft
University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands . 2016. Guest editorial. Journal of Manufacturing
Technology Management 27:7, 890-897. [Citation] [Full Text] [PDF]
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... Compared with the manufacturing industry, the construction industry is known for the slow adoption of new technologies, but researchers are exploring new means to integrate these technologies into construction. Kothman and Faber [38] claimed that although 3D printing has existed for a long time, its application in the construction sector is limited. In addition, Alzarrad and Elhouar [4] studied the history of adopting 3D printing in construction with respect to the largescale building developments, level of customization, and life cycle cost of 3D printed structures. ...
... The effort towards logistics operations and damage involved in shipping is expected to be significantly reduced with the help of 3D printing [38]. Particularly, the task times, productivity, and operation costs of the subcontractors, such as civil, concrete, reinforcement, and MEP, will be reduced, leading to lower efforts in the developed framework. ...
... Some other researchers have delved specifically into material science associated with 3D printing technologies. Kothman and Faber [38] performed a case study using 3D printed concrete to investigate the feasibility of using 3D printing concrete in construction. Benefits of this implementation, such as elimination of logistics operations, reduction of damage involved in shipping products, complex product fabrication, and customization of on-site assembly, were observed. ...
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... The development of AM has fetched drastic changes in the field of civil engineering and construction. It could replace conventional components, means and modality for performance with more appealing, cheaper and comfortable demonstration in the construction sector [23,24]. Engineers, architects and site contractors have been enjoying pleasant use of the technology in developing designs and specifications, preparing models; precision in work with such other many aspects. ...
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Over the last decade, additive manufacturing (AM) has received an increased attention as many manufacturing companies have increasingly adopted new technologies to capture new opportunities. This research identifies the impacts of AM on the supply chain when compared to the case of conventional manufacturing. Through an empirical investigation conducted with 51 multinational companies in the manufacturing sector, the impacts of AM are analysed by focusing on post-processing operations, lead times, cost implications, flow management strategies and maintenance. The empirical investigation reveals two major benefits of AM, namely: the ability to produce complex parts in low volumes and good design and the prototyping capability. However, the empirical results are mixed for some other impacts of AM. In fact, although many experts agreed on the general benefits of AM, a significant number did not see much difference from the conventional manufacturing. We also provide empirical evidence that, under AM, maintenance complexity and duration do not reduce as opposite to what is reported in the literature, which might be due to the novelty of AM technology and the complexity of the machines themselves. Moreover, our findings reveal that a reduction of suppliers, a reduced need for huge stockpiles and a reduced need for transportations which are often acknowledged as advantages of AM are not confirmed.
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The Internet has opened up a new era in sharing. There has also been an explosion of studies and writings about sharing via the Internet. This includes a series of books, articles, and web discussions on the topic. However, many of these apparent cases of sharing are better characterized as pseudo-sharing-commodity exchanges wrapped in a vocabulary of sharing. The present paper reviews subsequent research and theorizing as well as controversies that have emerged surrounding sharing and what is best regarded as pseudo-sharing-a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing phenomenon whereby commodity exchange and potential exploitation of consumer co-creators present themselves in the guise of sharing. The paper begins with a pair of vignettes that highlight some of the contested meanings of sharing. By detailing four types of pseudo-sharing and four types of sharing that are specifically enabled or enhanced by Internet technologies, the paper argues that pseudo-sharing is distinguished by the presence of profit motives, the absence of feelings of community, and expectations of reciprocity. It concludes with a discussion of theoretical, practical, and ethical implications of pseudo-sharing and offer suggestions for future research.
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T ransformative technologies are the stuff of history. The steam engine, the light bulb, atomic energy, the microchip—to name a few—unalterably changed our world. Such breakthroughs often take decades from initial invention to changing the way we do things and their potential impact can be nearly unimaginable early in the process. It is doubtful that even Tim Berners-Lee in his wildest dreams imagined what the World Wide Web would do to our global "operating system" when he invented it 20 years ago. Now another new technology is gaining traction that may change the world. 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a revolutionary emerging technology that could up-end the last two centuries of approaches to design and manufacturing with profound geopolitical, economic, social, demographic, environmental, and security implications. As explained in this brief, AM builds products layer-by-layer—additively—rather than by subtracting material from a larger piece of material like cutting out a landing gear from a block of titanium—that is, "subtractive" manufacturing. This seemingly small distinction—adding rather than subtracting—means everything. • Assembly lines and supply chains can be reduced or eliminated for many products. The final product—or large pieces of a final product like a car—can be produced by AM in one process unlike conventional manufacturing in which hundreds or thousands of parts are assembled. The Strategic Foresight Initiative seeks to enhance understanding of the potential impact and policy implications of long-term global trends, disruptive change, and strategic shocks. The Initiative publishes articles, blogs, and reports and convenes workshops that bring together policymakers, academic and think tank specialists, and business leaders to analyze long-term threats and challenges ranging from climate change, water and food shortages, and resource scarcities to the impact of urbanization and new technologies. It also analyzes how these trends interact with social, political, economic, and security factors, often to produce disruptive changes to the global strategic environment affecting all nations. The Initiative provides a hub for an expanding international community of global trends experts that seeks to enhance public policy making in the United States and other key countries. The Initiative has been working with the US National Intelligence Council for the last six years on preparation of its long-term trends reports, including Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World, and the upcoming Global Trends 2030 report that will be released in late 2012.
Environmental management system has become one of the main tools used by companies to handle the environmental aspects and the impacts that their activities have on the environment. In this context, this work aims to demonstrate the results of a survey that identifies a set of indicators of environmental performance to continuously manage and improve the environmental and performance management of ISO 14001 certified companies in the Southern region of Brazil. This research is descriptive as well as quantitative and adopted two methods for factor analysis, the analysis of multiple correspondences and the principal components analysis as well as a method of classification, the cluster analysis. Several companies monitor the environmental and performance management of the industrial pulp and paper/furniture/wood and textile sectors using indicators of environmental performance. As expected, organizations from the services sector do not use such indicators. The results from cluster analysis also showed that legal and other requirements and environmental aspects are the both more representative requirements. Finally, there is a great concern for companies to meet the legal requirements as well as the conservation of environmental resources.
Contribution of service supply chains to economic growth is significant and recent climate change issues expect services to be greener. The entire supply chain will be green if their suppliers adopt the requirements of the focal company and customers. Hence, it is essential that every organization constantly analyses and monitors the green performance of different members of the supply chains. Furthermore comprehensive studies have been carried out to identify criteria to evaluate green performance of manufacturing supply chain. However there is lack of studies to identify criteria and evaluate the performance of service supply chain. Service supply chain green performance evaluation necessitates methods to consider both qualitative and quantitative factors. Many conventional multi- criteria decision making (MCDM) methods have drawbacks such as inability to capture realistic fuzziness in decision making (human judgment), inadaptability to different levels of measurement, complexity in calculation and requirement of intricate details, which render them unsuitable for the task of environmental performance evaluation of service supply chains. In this paper, a grey based hybrid framework for evaluating the environmental performance of service supply chains is proposed by integrating grey based method with ELECTRE and VIKOR approaches. Two case studies were carried out to understand the effectiveness of criteria and method to evaluate environmental performance of service supply chains in a developing country context.
Management is on the verge of a major breakthrough in understanding how industrial company success depends on the interactions between the flows of information, materi-als, money, manpower, and capital equipment. The way these five flow systems interlock to amplify one another and to cause change and fluctuation will form the basis for antici-pating the effects of decisions, policies, organizational forms, and investment choices." (For-rester 1958, p. 37) Forrester introduced a theory of distribution management that recognized the integrated nature of organizational relationships. Because organizations are so intertwined, he argued that system dynam-ics can influence the performance of functions such as research, engineering, sales, and promotion.
Additive Manufacturing Technologies: Rapid Prototyping to Direct Digital Manufacturing deals with various aspects of joining materials to form parts. Additive Manufacturing (AM) is an automated technique for direct conversion of 3D CAD data into physical objects using a variety of approaches. Manufacturers have been using these technologies in order to reduce development cycle times and get their products to the market quicker, more cost effectively, and with added value due to the incorporation of customizable features. Realizing the potential of AM applications, a large number of processes have been developed allowing the use of various materials ranging from plastics to metals for product development. Authors Ian Gibson, David W. Rosen and Brent Stucker explain these issues, as well as: Providing a comprehensive overview of AM technologies plus descriptions of support technologies like software systems and post-processing approaches Discussing the wide variety of new and emerging applications like micro-scale AM, medical applications, direct write electronics and Direct Digital Manufacturing of end-use components Introducing systematic solutions for process selection and design for AM Additive Manufacturing Technologies: Rapid Prototyping to Direct Digital Manufacturing is the perfect book for researchers, students, practicing engineers, entrepreneurs, and manufacturing industry professionals interested in additive manufacturing.