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Publication - Dr Nikolaos Stylos

    3D printing, makerspaces and innovation:a bricolage perspective

    Citation

    Beltagui, A, Sesis, A & Stylos, N, 2019, ‘3D printing, makerspaces and innovation:a bricolage perspective’.

    Abstract

    The aim of this research is to understand how 3D printing is used by independent
    innovators, in the context of makerspaces, to generate innovations. 3D printing refers
    to digital fabrication technologies that are increasingly affordable and accessible.
    Makerspaces allow communities of individuals to share access to such technologies,
    learn to use them and to develop their social capital. The objectives of the research are
    1) to understand the motivations of innovators who use 3D printing and makerspaces;
    and 2) to explain the role that 3D printing and makerspaces can play in commercial
    innovation. The study presents case research involving individual innovators who were
    identified through ethnographic fieldwork in a number of makerspaces. The research
    draws on theory in the area of bricolage – an approach to innovation that emphasises
    experimentation, improvisation and networking to overcome resource-constraints. We
    find evidence that makerspace users adopt such an approach, for example accessing
    technologies and knowledge. And we demonstrate how 3D printing is used to produce
    non-standard parts that are combined with available components, when required
    resources are out of reach. This research contributes to knowledge and practice, by
    showing that 3D printing is used to fill gaps, by creating non-standard or otherwise
    unobtainable parts, in combination with other available resources. Makerspaces help
    innovators to overcome their resource constraints, but also play a crucial role in sharing
    knowledge, to help individuals innovate. The implications for practice centre on the
    innovative potential for product innovation to follow the approaches that are now
    standard in software development – the research therefore illuminates the changing role
    of innovation in the digital age.

    Full details in the University publications repository