How 3D printing technology changes the rules of the game: Insights from the construction sector

Ivo Kothman, Niels Faber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


This contribution presents several insights on how disruptive technologies potentially impact the ecoperformance
of entire supply chains, by (1) providing performance improvements compared to existing
technologies, (2) enabling more efficient manufacturing methods, and (3) affecting the entire structure of the
supply chain.
To illustrate our position, a case from the construction sector is presented, for which the feasibility and impact of
3D printing technology has been studied. The empirical study focuses on the effect of the use of 3D printing
technology on the building supply chain, aimed primarily at manufacturing companies in construction, but
including suppliers, architects and designers as well.
3D printing of concrete potentially provides several improvements in manufacturing performance, such as a
shortening of lead times, integration of functions and allowing for reduced material usage, therefore possibly
turning production steps within the construction supply chain obsolete while also reducing logistical and
production efforts.
Research limitations/implications
Whether disruptive technologies other than 3D printing have a similar potential is unknown. Though the case
study shows the potential of disruptive technologies in impacting supply chains, we realize that more empirical
work is needed to understand the underlying mechanisms.
The originality of this paper lies in relating disruptive technological advancements to manufacturing
technologies and transitions of supply chains’ eco-performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)932-943
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Manufacturing and Technology Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 5-Sep-2016
Externally publishedYes


  • disruptive technology
  • environmental impact
  • 3D printing
  • supply chains

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