Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the implementation of entry-level printers in small businesses and education to identify corresponding benefits, implications and challenges. Design/methodology/approach - Data were collected from four small businesses in northeast Ohio through survey-and interview-based feedback to develop an understanding of their use of entry-level 3D printing. Three businesses are representative of typical manufacturing-related small companies (final part fabrication-, tooling-and system-level suppliers) and the fourth company provides manufacturing-related educational tools. Corresponding learning from implementation and outcomes are assessed. Findings - Adoption of 3D printing technology was enabled through hands-on experience with entry-level 3D printers, even with their shortcomings. Entry-level 3D printing provided a workforce development opportunity to prepare small businesses to eventually work with production grade systems. Originality/value - This paper details industry-based findings on venturing into commercializing 3D printing through first-hand experiences enabled by entry-level 3D printing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Mechanical Engineering
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering