Open-source, self-replicating 3-D printer factory for small-business manufacturing

  • Andre Laplume
  • Gerald C. Anzalone
  • Joshua M. PearceEmail author


Additive manufacturing with 3-D printers may be a key technology enabler for entrepreneurs seeking to use disruptive innovations such as business models utilizing distributed manufacturing. Unlike centralized manufacturing, distributed manufacturing makes the parts and products (the prints) at (or closer to) the source of the demand, cutting out much of the traditional supply chain. Although many expect 3-D printing to take off at the household level and previous work has shown significant returns for those choosing to do so, there are still significant barriers to entry for typical consumers. Our analysis demonstrates that for an individual to make an abnormally high return on their investments in 3-D printers, they must serve others to achieve high utilization rates. The impetus to do so is created by a service that can undercut traditionally manufactured products due to affordability and customizability. Low-cost, open-source 3-D printers are now priced within range of individual entrepreneurs who can take advantage of the long tail of consumers with highly varied interests. The margin advantage, net present value, and return on investment (ROI) analysis provided herein could form the basis of thousands of new small-business ventures in the coming years.


3-D printing RepRap Entrepreneurship Disruptive innovation Distributed manufacturing Business model 


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Supplementary material

170_2015_7970_MOESM1_ESM.xls (18 kb)
Appendix 1 Case 2. MOST Delta RepRap BOM and total cost table (XLS 18 kb)
170_2015_7970_MOESM2_ESM.xls (18 kb)
Appendix 2 Case 3. Quad Delta RepRap MOST Delta RepRap BOM and total cost table (XLS 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andre Laplume
    • 1
  • Gerald C. Anzalone
    • 2
  • Joshua M. Pearce
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Business and EconomicsMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA

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