Managing the adoption of additive manufacturing: A systemic manufacturing innovation and sustainability perspective

Tutkimustuotos: VäitöskirjaCollection of Articles


Successful production transformation of manufacturing organizations, driven by technological developments, is increasingly important for the economy and society, as well as for a sustainability transition. Advanced manufacturing technologies not only enhance current production methods but also enable the creation of new manufacturing processes and the manufacturing of new types of products. The adoption of these kinds of systemic manufacturing technologies presents a novel research need and positions the topic of this dissertation in technology and innovation studies from a sociotechnical perspective. Additive manufacturing (AM) is one of the prominent advanced manufacturing technologies, where the expected benefits are greater than the drawbacks, and is the technological context of this dissertation.

The diffusion of AM on an industrial scale is not a simple implementation task of introducing a new type of machine into the operations of an organization, but is a complex adoption process that requires supporting and complementary innovations in multiple places in the value chain as well as interorganizational collaboration to share the knowledge of pioneers. As the diffusion of prominent new manufacturing technology has not been as expected, research is needed to study the adoption of AM from multiple perspectives to generate new theoretical knowledge that simultaneously supports the adoption of AM in practice.

The aim of this dissertation is to provide new knowledge on ways of managing the adoption of AM as an advanced manufacturing technology innovation in interorganizational networks. Second, this dissertation aims to provide new knowledge on the consideration of sustainability perspectives during AM adoption and subsequent AM innovations. Third, the aim is to aggregate the findings and provide new context-specific knowledge from AM (as an advanced manufacturing technology innovation) into the literature of technology adoption. The aim of the dissertation is approached through one main research question and two sub- questions. The main research question is: How, through what kind of an innovation adoption process, do organizations adopt AM? The sub-questions are: How do organizations manage the adoption of AM in their interorganizational networks, and
how do organizations address sustainability in AM innovations?

This article-based dissertation utilizes a sequential research design and includes four original articles, of which three are published in scientific peer-reviewed journals and one is published in peer-reviewed conference proceedings. The empirical and qualitative research data were collected in various combinations of interviews, workshops, and a qualitative survey, depending on the individual study in this article compilation. The data were collected from manufacturing companies and other related organizations in relevant networks in the fields of machine building, the process technology industry, and biomedical applications. This dissertation studied AM adoption from the interorganizational level of analysis, supported by the organizational level of analysis.

The adoption of AM is a complex process of systemic manufacturing innovation adoption, where the adoption of new technology itself is not meaningful, but the goods manufactured with AM define whether the technology is attractive to the organization’s needs. Furthermore, the adoption of AM might take place throughout the value chain, and the added value has to be carefully envisioned through value- driven design.

This dissertation thus contributes to the technology innovation adoption theory by showing that AM adoption, as a systemic manufacturing innovation, requires complementary innovations. These complementary innovations are found in the forms of supply chain innovations, process innovations, and new product innovations. Without the added value in the aforementioned innovations, the technology is not worth adopting. Interorganizational collaboration through innovation projects is a possible way to overcome adoption barriers and ease the knowledge sharing from pioneers to adopters during AM adoption-related innovation projects. Sustainability considerations can be included in the value-driven design to support the sustainability outcomes of new AM innovations. Stakeholders are shown to be relevant to enhancing both adoption success and sustainability, as they provide knowledge and support to guide AM innovation for the needs of society.

This dissertation further contributes to the practice of AM adoption specifically by showing how the complex phenomenon of systemic manufacturing innovation can be treated in a modular way and provides examples of potential adoption challenges and barriers, supply chain level issues, stakeholder level issues, adoption as an innovation process, and how all of these can be used to inform practitioners when introducing AM into networks.
ISBN (elektroninen) 978-952-03-2532-9
TilaJulkaistu - 2022
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG5 Artikkeliväitöskirja


NimiTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (painettu)2489-9860
ISSN (elektroninen)2490-0028


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