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Visualizing the hotspots and emerging trends of 3D printing through scientometrics

Yuran Jin (School of Business Administration, University of Science and Technology Liaoning, Anshan, China and School of Business Administration, Northeastern University, Shenyang, China)
Xin Li (School of Business Administration, University of Science and Technology Liaoning, Anshan, China)
R. Ian Campbell (School of Design, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Shoufeng Ji (School of Business Administration, Northeastern University, Shenyang, China)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 12 June 2018

Issue publication date: 20 September 2018

Abstract

Purpose

3D printing is believed to be driving the third industrial revolution. However, a scientometric visualizing of 3D printing research and an exploration its hotspots and emerging trends are lacking. This study aims to promote the theory development of 3D printing, help researchers to determine the research direction and provide a reference for enterprises and government to plan the development of 3D printing industry by a comprehensive understanding of the hotspots and trends of 3D printing.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on the theory of scientometrics, 2,769 literatures on the 3D printing theme were found in the Web of Science Core Collection’ Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED) index between 1995-2016. These were analyzed to explore the research hotspots and emerging trends of 3D printing with the software CiteSpaceIII.

Findings

Hotspots had appeared first in 1993, grew rapidly from 2005 and peaked in 2013; hotspots in the “medical field” appeared earliest and have remained extremely active; hotspots have evolved from “drug”, “printer”, “rapid prototyping” and “3D printing” in the 1990s, through “laser-induced consolidation”, “scaffolds”, “sintering” and “metal matrix composites” in the 2000s, to the current hotspots of “stereolithography”, “laser additive manufacturing”, “medical images”; “3D bioprinting”, “titanium”, “Cstem cell” and “chemical reaction” were the emerging hotspots in recent years; “Commercial operation” and “fusion with emerging technology such as big data” may create future hotspots.

Research limitations/implications

It is hard to avoid the possibility of missing important research results on 3D printing. The relevant records could be missing if the query phrases for topic search do not appear in records. Besides, to improve the quality of data, this study selected articles and reviews as the research objects, which may also omit some records.

Originality/value

First, this is the first paper visualizing the hotspots and emerging trends of 3D printing using scientometric tools. Second, not only “burst reference” and “burst keywords” but also “cluster” and “landmark article” are selected as the evaluation factors to judge the hotspots and trends of a domain comprehensively. Third, overall perspective of hotspots and trends of 3D printing is put forward for the first time.

Keywords

Citation

Jin, Y., Li, X., Campbell, R.I. and Ji, S. (2018), "Visualizing the hotspots and emerging trends of 3D printing through scientometrics", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 801-812. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-05-2017-0100

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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