To read this content please select one of the options below:

3D printing services: classification, supply chain implications and research agenda

Helen Rogers (Business Faculty, Technische Hochschule Nürnberg, Nurnberg, Germany )
Norbert Baricz (Business Faculty, Technische Hochschule Nürnberg, Nurnberg, Germany )
Kulwant S. Pawar (Business School, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK )

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 7 November 2016




The purpose of this paper is to identify and classify the available types of 3D printing services, with the scope of determining the potential implications that such services could have on the supply chains of manufacturing firms and creating a research agenda for future studies.


The authors review the current literature on the potential supply chain impacts of 3D printing and evaluate the 3D printing services provided by 404 firms in selected European markets.


The results show that 3D printing services form a rapidly evolving industry, with new service providers entering the market on a regular basis. Evidence from the European markets investigated suggests that services can be classified into three distinct categories: generative, facilitative and selective services.

Research limitations/implications

This paper represents an attempt to take stock of a fast-moving and potentially paradigm-shifting market. The implications are dynamic as new applications, business models and techniques are continually being developed. Further studies are required to substantiate the findings.

Practical implications

Three categories of 3D printing services that could significantly impact supply chain configurations of the future are proposed. Several issues specific to 3D printing services raised in the research agenda require further scrutiny and substantiation before services can reach their full potential.


This paper provides an overview of the growing 3D printing services industry, highlighting how the market might change as additive manufacturing technology matures.



An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2016 International Symposium on Logistics held in Kaoshiung, Taiwan, July 2016 and was subsequently revised for publication in IJPDLM. The authors would like to thank Professor Alex Ellinger and the reviewers for their insightful comments and encouragement during the review process.


Rogers, H., Baricz, N. and Pawar, K.S. (2016), "3D printing services: classification, supply chain implications and research agenda", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 46 No. 10, pp. 886-907.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles