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Abstract

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is becoming the industry standard for manufacturing and prototyping. Although the technology is very old, it gained a huge traction in the past two decades. 3D printing favors unique once-off orders (mass customization) in contrast to mass production. This calls for innovative business models in order to realize economic gains from the technology. Increased product innovations in the global economy also contribute to wide adoption of 3D printing unlike in the old days. A transition in the manufacturing field has brought e-manufacturing and now cloud-based manufacturing. Machines, including 3D printers, in the past were not Internet-enabled but modern designs have the capability of Internet connectivity. Cloud-based 3D printing is a new model of design that has a significant impact on today's entrepreneurs. This article focuses on a business case for a cloud-based approach in consumer product niches. A cloud-based 3D printing business model (3D-Cloud) is developed based on the business model canvas, which promises major breakthroughs in e-entrepreneurship innovation. The model uses a virtual community approach to bring together technocrats, enthusiasts, and shared 3D printer facilities of common interests, whilst promoting an enterprising spirit.
DOI: 10.4018/IJEEI.2018070103

Volume 8 • Issue 2 • July-December 2018
Copyright © 2018, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
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
Norman Gwangwava, Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Palapye, Botswana
Albert U Ude, Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Palapye, Botswana
Enock Ogunmuyiwa, Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Palapye, Botswana
Richard Addo-Tenkorang, CIP, MP, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is becoming the industry standard for
manufacturing and prototyping. Although the technology is very old, it gained a huge traction in the
past two decades. 3D printing favors unique once-off orders (mass customization) in contrast to mass
production. This calls for innovative business models in order to realize economic gains from the
technology. Increased product innovations in the global economy also contribute to wide adoption of
3D printing unlike in the old days. A transition in the manufacturing field has brought e-manufacturing
and now cloud-based manufacturing. Machines, including 3D printers, in the past were not Internet-
enabled but modern designs have the capability of Internet connectivity. Cloud-based 3D printing is
a new model of design that has a significant impact on today’s entrepreneurs. This article focuses on
a business case for a cloud-based approach in consumer product niches. A cloud-based 3D printing
business model (3D-Cloud) is developed based on the business model canvas, which promises major
breakthroughs in e-entrepreneurship innovation. The model uses a virtual community approach to
bring together technocrats, enthusiasts, and shared 3D printer facilities of common interests, whilst
promoting an enterprising spirit.

3D Printing, 3DCloud, Additive Manufacturing, Business Modeling, Cloud based 3D Printing, Cloud Computing,
Mass Customization, SOA Architecture, Social Networking, Time to Market, Virtual Communities, Word One,
Word Three, Word Two

3D Printing became a sudden Gold rush in the past two decades. This was inspired by rapid innovations
in digitization and increased competitiveness among businesses. The pace of innovation across
economic sectors also increased rapidly, and this brought a new challenge to enterprises, the need
to hit the markets fast. The general consumer population is increasingly becoming more educated
as more information becomes readily available through the cloud. Virtual communities and social
networks have also led to the advent of new entrepreneurship approaches. Social entrepreneurship
has become common in today’s modern world. 3D printing (i.e., additive manufacturing) is an old

Volume 8 • Issue 2 • July-December 2018
26
technology that was progressing slowly but became a significant pillar of supporting innovation
and quick time-to-market in many enterprises. Products can now be launched faster because the
technology eliminates complex stages of product research and development. Where new tooling for
new parts design would take several weeks or months to produce, 3D Printing has eliminated those
stages. Big companies have gone further to using 3D printing to make ready-to-use parts, which
can be used as spare parts replacements. This significantly reduces down time in many industries.
However, by nature, 3D printing remains unsuitable for mass production. This calls for innovative
business models to sustain the technology, whilst tapping from its unquestionable benefits. There are
many proven business applications of 3D printing, which include new-product design/prototyping,
spare parts replacement, 3D printed ornaments, children toys, education and many others such as
the medical fields. However, business viability factors in many considerations which if not taken
into account can result in unsustainable issues and subsequent failure of the initiatives. Adopting
appropriate business models bring in viability and promote growth of the 3D printing technologies
through proper appreciation and continued innovation.
3D printing is rapidly developing into an important but also disruptive technology with the
potential for societal-wide change as witnessed with the introduction of the automobile, personal
computer, the Internet and smartphones (Mills, 2015; Petrick & Simpson, 2013). The technology
influences many processes in production, supply chain design, logistics, product life-cycle planning,
and consumer behavior (Mellor et al., 2014; Berman, 2012; Bogers et al., 2016). 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 (Jiang et al., 2017). The article looks
into details of various promising entrepreneurship applications of 3D printing, cloud computing
technologies and their disruptions to the traditional business approaches. Innovative entrepreneurship
models are then considered with the view of proposing new business models for adoption by the
modern e-entrepreneurs in the digital economy. Practical scenarios are considered, and the case studies
can be applied in any other 3D printing environment following the proposed template approach.

3D printing is a manufacturing method based on advanced technology that builds up parts, additively,
in layers (Ventola, 2014). The 3D printing process starts with a 3D digital model, created using 3D
software such as 3D CAD. After the expiration of the patent for the fused filament fabrication (FFF)
technology of additive manufacturing (AM), where a single layer of polymer is deposited after another,
there followed the release of the open-source self-REPlicating RAPid prototype 3D printer (RepRap)
(Sells et al., 2007; Jones et al., 2011; Bowyer, 2014). The open-source hardware approach led to a
rapid technical evolution, which resulted in aggressive cost declines and the emergence of desktop 3D
printer market, dominated by various RepRap derivative machines (Gibb & Abadie, 2014; Rundle,
2014; Wohlers, 2016; Frauenfelder, 2013). 3D printing found many applications in rapid prototyping,
manufacturing, arts and design, toy manufacturing, automotive, consumer electronics, education,
architecture models and full-scale house printing, aerospace and defense, as well as medicine. The
technology has been widely used by hobbyists to replicate 3D printers. Medical applications of 3D
printing brought in a huge step from the virtual world to the physical world through bone reconstruction;
3D printed vital organs and dentistry. 3D printed models are useful for transferring information to the
surgeon in a more informative way and allow for improved, more detailed surgical planning. They
can help to illustrate intervention procedures to novice surgeons and patients, and can be useful for
testing the procedure on patient-specific (PS) anatomy through the use of printing materials able to
resemble the mechanical properties of bone (Auricchio, 2016). In the late 2000s, the cost of 3D printing
began to be low enough (and quality high enough) to start directly manufacturing final products with
3D printers. Speed, quality, accuracy and material properties have developed to an extent that 3D
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