User entrepreneur business models in 3D printing

Patrick Holzmann*, Robert J. Breitenecker, Aqeel A. Soomro, Erich J. Schwarz

*Corresponding author for this work

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Purpose - 3D printing possesses certain characteristics that are beneficial for user entrepreneurship. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the business models of user entrepreneurs in the 3D printing industry. In addition, various business opportunities in 3D printing open to user entrepreneurs are classified according to their attractiveness. Design/methodology/approach - The authors review the literatures on user entrepreneurship and on business models. Data from eight user entrepreneurs in Europe and North America are analyzed, applying qualitative content analysis. Multiple correspondence analysis is used to analyze their respective business models. Findings - User entrepreneurs in the 3D printing utilize a number of different business models, which show similarities in particular business model components. User entrepreneurs focus primarily on the combination of low opportunity exploitation cost and a large number of potential customers. Research limitations/implications - Online business seems to be beneficial for user entrepreneurship in 3D printing. Policy makers can foster user entrepreneurship by expanding entrepreneurship education and lowering administrative barriers of business foundation. The results of this study are based on a small European and North American sample. Thus, they might not be applicable to other markets. Originality/value - This is the first study of user entrepreneur business models in 3D printing and, thus, contributes to the literature on business models and on user entrepreneurship. In view of the novelty of the field, the business models identified in the study could serve as blueprints for prospective user entrepreneurs in 3D printing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-94
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Manufacturing Technology Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • 3D printing
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Business model
  • Business model innovation
  • Small business
  • User entrepreneurship

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