Study in cooperation with the VDI

 

The potential of additive manufacturing - Digital technologies in the corporate context

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Ruth van Bracht

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+49 241 80 99177

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Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, is a current example of a potentially disruptive technology that is becoming increasingly important. It plays a major role not only within various industrial applications such as manufacturing, but also in everyday consumer lives. The technology offers new possibilities for design configurations ( "complexity for free": achieving complex geometries without significant additional costs), so that conventional products and production processes can potentially be substituted. Additive manufacturing is thus not only a potentially disruptive technology that could replace a large number of conventional manufacturing processes, but also enables new business models, new products, and new supply chains.

Nevertheless, many uncertainties remain, surrounding the further development of the technology, making it a "potentially" disruptive technology: Technological development, economic market potential, and regulatory conditions remain uncertain.

The dilemma that companies often face is the choice between adhering to conventional, existing and well-founded technologies or being willing to adopt new opportunities associated with potentially disruptive technologies. The same applies to employees who previously worked exclusively with established technologies and are now confronted with the uncertainty of new technologies that demand new skills or new knowledge. Studies have already shown that the perception of a new technology in organizations (both at management and employee level) play a significant role for its later application. Decision-making at the enterprise level is significantly influenced by individual-level decisions. To recognize these factors, it is extremely important to analyze how individual employees perceive new technologies and how these perceptions affect their response to AM.

In particular, the perception of a technology as an opportunity or threat is a decisive factor for the future use of a technology. Perceptions are developed through discourse and discussion among employees, with supervisors, and through management level communication.

To this end, we surveyed the members of the VDI who work in relevant fields. A particular focus lay on employees who are not already among so-called "power users" of AM technologies.