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Self-manufacturing via 3D Printing: Implications for Retailing Thought and Practice

Marketing in a Digital World

ISBN: 978-1-78756-340-7, eISBN: 978-1-78756-339-1

ISSN: 1548-6435

Publication date: 19 September 2019


Retailing thought and practice is premised on the assumption that consumers visit retailers to search for and acquire objects produced by manufacturers. In essence, we assume that the acts of consuming and producing are conducted by separate entities. This unspoken yet familiar premise shapes the questions retail scholars ask and the way retail practitioners think about their industry. Although this assumption accurately depicted retailing since the Industrial Revolution, its relevance is being challenged by a growing set of individuals who are equipped with new digital tools to engage in self-manufacturing. In this chapter, we examine self-manufacturing with a particular focus on the recent rise of desktop 3D printing. After discussing this new technology and reviewing the literature, we offer a conceptual classification of four distinct types of 3D printed objects and use this classification to inform a content analysis of over 400 of these objects. Based on this review and analysis, we discuss the implications of self-manufacturing for retailing thought and practice.




We thank Yaxian Xie for her help with data collection, Margo Robbins for her technical assistance, and Myoung Kim and Shankar Ganesan for their helpful comments.


Rindfleisch, A., Malter, A.J. and Fisher, G.J. (2019), "Self-manufacturing via 3D Printing: Implications for Retailing Thought and Practice", Marketing in a Digital World (Review of Marketing Research, Vol. 16), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 167-188.



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