Edited by Robert DeFillippi, Alison Rieple and Patrik Wikström
Chapter 3: The changing role of the designer in new business models based around 3D printing technologies
Since the advent of the internet economy and the development of web-based companies, the question of which business model would best be able to capture and exploit internet-related opportunities has been the subject of much academic and practitioner debate. However, the role of the designer within such disruptive value-capturing structures has rarely been examined. Because of the revolutionary effect of the internet and mobile technologies, many industries have been forced to develop new strategies and business models to meet the changing business requirements of an altered market environment. Manufacturing industries are being pushed into creating new business models inspired not only by the internet and the possibilities of connective technologies, but also because of the new ways of creating, prototyping and manufacturing goods that have been made possible by the development of 3D printing technology. These business model changes are not simply addressed at accommodating new technologies but also at dealing with increasingly important social changes like the share economy and the desire for personalization of goods. This means that those manufacturers that are able to create the right organizational infrastructure and strategy for using new technologies are also rewriting the role of the designer. The designer’s role is no longer just to produce physical products; they are to build new sorts of processes, services, IT-powered interactions, entertainments and ways of communicating and collaborating – exactly the kinds of human-centred activities in which designers excel.
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