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The role of service providers in 3D printing adoption

Atanu Chaudhuri (Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Helen Rogers (Technische Hochschule Nurnberg Georg Simon Ohm, Nurnberg, Germany)
Peder Soberg (Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Kulwant S. Pawar (University of Nottingham Business School, Nottingham, UK)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 20 June 2019

Issue publication date: 7 August 2019




The purpose of this paper is to identify challenges faced by industrial firms at different phases of adoption of 3D printing (3DP), and outline how 3DP service providers can help address these challenges.


Separate interview questionnaires for 3DP users and 3DP service providers were used to conduct semi-structured interviews.


The key 3DP adoption challenges are as follows: creating a business case; difficulty in using different materials; optimising the process for specific parts; lack of “plug and play” solutions offered by equipment manufacturers; limited availability of training and educational support; poor end product quality; machine breakdowns; and high cost of maintenance and spare components. Using the theoretical lens of the technology acceptance model, results show a lack of ease of use and technological turbulence impact companies’ decisions to adopt 3DP. 3DP service providers can indeed attempt to alleviate the above challenges faced by customers through providing multiple 3DP services across different stages of adoption.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should examine the role of 3DP equipment manufacturers and design and modeling software solutions providers in improving adoption and how 3DP equipment manufacturers could develop into more integrated service providers as the technology advances.

Practical implications

Service providers can help customers transition to 3DP and should develop a portfolio of services that fits different phases of adoption.


The paper outlines how 3DP service providers can help address customer challenges in adoption of 3DP across different stages of adoption.



Chaudhuri, A., Rogers, H., Soberg, P. and Pawar, K.S. (2019), "The role of service providers in 3D printing adoption", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 119 No. 6, pp. 1189-1205.



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