Sustainability outcomes through direct digital manufacturing-based operational practices: A design theory approach

Tutkimustuotos: Lehtiartikkeli



  • Aalborg University


Direct digital manufacturing (DDM) is a combination of product modeling and manufacturing technology that directly converts digital models to physical objects without the need for tooling. The capability of DDM to improve the sustainability of products and processes is based on changing operational practices in product design, distribution, use, and after-sales services. Although research has provided evidence of the potential impact of DDM technologies, there is limited research on how specific DDM-based operational practices add to the operational capabilities of a manufacturer and how these capabilities can be used to improve sustainability outcomes. To address this research gap, we evaluate how current and future DDM-based operational practices can be used to improve products and processes. The analyzed current practices are in prototyping, tooling, on-demand parts manufacturing, and customized parts manufacturing. Two future practices that are evaluated are DDM-based incremental product improvement and dynamic supply chain reconfiguration.

Based on the evaluation of current and future practices, we propose a design theory for the introduction of DDM into manufacturing firms for improving sustainability capabilities. The key contribution of this article is specifying the mechanisms by which a specific DDM-based operational practice improves sustainability outcomes and how each practice creates an operational practice threshold that needs to be reached before further improvement of capabilities is possible. Thus, using the theory new operational practices can be proactively developed and tested before the next threshold is reached. This in turn will help manufacturers develop strategies and investment plans for current and future DDM-based practices and to accumulate sustainability capabilities faster. (c) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


JulkaisuJournal of Cleaner Production
TilaJulkaistu - 20 marraskuuta 2017
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA1 Julkaistu artikkeli, soviteltu

ID: 15990924