Title: Can a technology turn (also) into a symbol? The 3D printers case

Authors: Claudio Fassio; Luca Grilli

Addresses: Department of Business Administration, Centre for Innovation Research and Competence in the Learning Economy (CIRCLE), Lund University, Sölvegatan 16, 22100, Lund, Sweden ' Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Via R. Lambruschini 4/b, 20156, Milan, Italy

Abstract: The 3D printing industry has been recently affected by two events: the fact that open source (OS) business models are getting momentum, and the widespread diffusion of the Maker Movement. We argue that 3D printers can be conceptualised as innovations which embody both technological and symbolic aspects. If innovations of the first type are solely adopted for their technical utility, innovations which have also symbolic connotation may confer a new social meaning to an item. By analysing an international sample of 3D printer users, we highlight that adoption of 3D proprietary printers are driven by technologically-rooted considerations, while adherence to the Maker Movement is a key factor behind the adoption of 3D OS printers.

Keywords: 3D printers; new business models; social movements.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2020.108985

International Journal of Technology Management, 2020 Vol.82 No.3/4, pp.244 - 275

Accepted: 05 Apr 2020
Published online: 07 Aug 2020 *

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