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Play, print, and share: 3D printing enthusiasts as user innovators and entrepreneurs

Published Online:pp 648-664

The main aim of this paper is to explore how these 3D printing enthusiasts make sense of their 3D printing activities online and offline, and how these activities can be explained in terms of the theoretical concepts user innovation and user entrepreneurship. This paper builds on an in-depth interview study and reveals four ideal types (Halkier, 2011) of 3D printing enthusiasts: entrepreneurial, hobby, individual, and sharing. Based on the theoretical concepts of user innovation and user entrepreneurship, the four ideal types of 3D printing enthusiasts show varying degrees of willingness to engage in 3D communities and disseminate their ideas and innovations beyond in-house or in-community use. We contribute to user innovation and user entrepreneurship research by highlighting 3D printing enthusiasts as a specific group of user innovators/entrepreneurs with characteristics especially favourable to the diffusion of their ideas, designs, and innovations peer-to-peer or commercially.


3D printing, user innovation, user entrepreneurship, collaboration, 3D community, diffusion, ideal types