The impact of 3D Printing Technology on the supply chain: Manufacturing and legal perspectives

Hing Kai Chan, James Griffin, Jia Jia Lim, Fangli Zeng, Anthony S.F. Chiu

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

143 Citations (Scopus)


3D Printing (3DP) technology has been receiving increased public attention. Many companies are seeking ways to develop new means of creating and disseminating 3DP content, in order to capture new business opportunities. However, to date the true business opportunities of 3DP have not been completely uncovered. This research explores the challenges posed in the development and deployment of 3DP and focuses on China, which is still the main manufacturing hub of the world. The main purpose of this research is to uncover the obstacles that resist mass-scale applications of 3DP. By means of empirical semi-structured interviews with 3DP companies in China, it is found that many companies can see the benefits of 3DP, but its potential has not been delivered as promised. One reason is due to the fact that 3DP has not been integrated well in the supply chain. The other reason concerns potential intellectual property issues that cannot effectively prevent counterfeiting. To tackle the above issues, several areas have been identified that could be improved further. In particular, the legal complications concerning 3D-printed content could be overcome by a licensing platform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-162
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • 3D printing
  • Digital manufacturing
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Supply chain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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