Whilst there has been considerable research on the use of electronic communications technologies to transfer design files for Additive Manufacturing (AM) between designer and manufacturer, corresponding studies that explore the resulting implications are limited. Often it is assumed that such an electronic approach is optimal; this paper serves to explore this assumption by reviewing the technical solutions, and identifying the practical implications. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
The results of a systematic literature review are used to develop four e-commerce channel designs, which are then explored using primary and secondary case studies.
It is shown that the use of e-commerce with AM has often been oversimplified, suggesting that it will bring about universal benefits through increased efficiency and cost reductions in information transfer, particularly as a result of supply chain disintermediation. Instead, this paper reinforces current e-commerce research suggesting that e-commerce channels can lead to both disintermediation but also re-intermediation of the supply chain; cost reductions and increased efficiency may not automatically follow.
For AM suppliers, channel strategy is likely to be a critical consideration. This paper provides a framework of currently available approaches, links these to the original research, and explains the implications arising from each option.
Whilst there are many technical studies in this area, the potential implications of their adoption are often hypothesized, but seldom explored empirically. This study makes an original contribution through the classification and analysis of the channels from a management perspective.
Eyers, D.R. and Potter, A.T. (2015), "E-commerce channels for additive manufacturing: an exploratory study", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 390-411. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMTM-08-2013-0102Download as .RIS
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