Kauppatieteellinen tiedekunta, 2017
Master's Degree Programme in International Business
From 1980s until today Additive Manufacturing (AM), or, as more commonly known, 3D printing technology, has become part of the manufacturing process of many companies. Because of its slow, but disruptive implication, it became center of interest of many firms and researcher, that started testing and investigating on the possibilities offered by this technology. Among these, this Master’s Thesis finds a place showing an interest on the reasons why Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) adopt AM, and in which way, by using it, they can see effects on their Global Value Chain and competitive advantage.
Thus, this study focuses on four interviewed Finnish and Italian SMEs (with an addition of an extra case used for comparison) trying to understand the aforementioned reasons and effects on these firms. In order to do so, it has been offered first a theoretical background, that helps to understand better the findings that the researcher collected. So, in order to figure out these reasons, first the AM business models adopted have been acknowledged, among the four different ones that can be applied (Rapid prototyping, Rapid Tooling, Direct manufacturing and Home Fabrication), then the motivations of implementation have been explained. Moving to GVC and competitive advantage, the researcher asked which are the main effects on this topic, analyzing how their positioning have been changed.
The final results suggest that, even though they are SMEs, AM is used also directly for manufacturing, going against expectations. Moreover, other fundamental aspects are: the cooperation and collaboration with the companies that belongs to their network (especially a cooperation with customers represents a great advantage) that improve SMEs position in the Value Chain; time-to-market represents the main advantage that all the analyzed companies achieved; differentiation (connected to the cooperation aspect) is the competitive advantage majorly achieved. Most of the findings have also been confirmed by the extra case proposed.
Additive Manufacturing, Global Value Chain, Competitive Advantage, Finland, Italy.