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Title: How designers benefit from free 3D design sharing

Authors: Annastiina Rintala

Addresses: School of Engineering Science, Lappeenranta University of Technology, P.O. Box 20 FIN-53851 Lappeenranta, Finland

Abstract: 3D printing has been described as a technological revolution, and it has already changed the way how some low-demand items are designed, produced and delivered to the customers. The threshold for new players entering the 3D business is lower than ever; the lowering costs of printers and the availability of free planning software provide new opportunities for entrepreneurs. However, at the same time, the availability of free 3D designs has exploded, and there is an enormous selection of them available. This raises questions: what kind of designs in particular are being uploaded and downloaded, and can the designers benefit financially from sharing their work for free? Based on former literature, this paper identifies four different strategies how to benefit financially from free 3D design sharing. By analysing the data gathered from Thingiverse, the largest free 3D design repository, it describes how these different strategies realise in the case of Thingiverse.

Keywords: design; additive manufacturing; 3D printing; personal 3D printing; maker movement; sharing economy; distributed manufacturing; open innovation; online communities.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBIR.2021.111981

International Journal of Business Innovation and Research, 2021 Vol.24 No.1, pp.147 - 166

Received: 20 Mar 2019
Accepted: 26 Jun 2019

Published online: 10 Dec 2020 *

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