Category Archives: Bit by Bit project

Introducing Bit by Bit Visitor Gabriele Montelisciani

Gabriele Montelisciani has just joined the Bit by Bit project as a visitor for the next two months. In this guest post, Gabriele introduces himself and the work that he will do during his visit to Cambridge.

Gabriele
Bit by Bit visitor Gabriele Montelisciani

I’m a PhD student in Management and Industrial Engineering at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, in formal partnership with the University of Pisa. I have a Master’s degree in Management Engineering, with specialisation in the fields of Innovation and Business Processes Management. My research interests include: methods and tools for early stage innovation and creativity; collaborative design; sustainable innovation and development; Internet of Things, and business modeling and entrepreneurship.

I’m part of the team of the organizational team of the University of Pisa’s Technology Transfer program for entrepreneurship education and startups creation called PhDplus. I’m also a founding member of the organization Fablab Pisa, a member of the Pisa Living Lab, and a member of the International Review Committee of the International Conference on Engineering, Technology and Innovation (ICE Conference).

During the two months that I’m visiting the Centre for Technology Management, I will support the “Bit by Bit” project group by investigating the evolution of additive manufacturing technologies and business models for desktop application. I’ll explore how the patent landscape is evolving in relation to open innovation initiatives.

The field of additive manufacturing has rapidly evolved in the last decade. The sector is facing a particular phenomenon whereby the concept of open innovation, carried out by the Makers movement, has arisen in opposition to the protection of innovation (patents), carried out by big players. The consequence is that the patent landscape is changing.

Low cost 3D printing devices have begun to reach individual consumers following the expiry of important patents related to the most common 3D printing technologies (i.e. fused deposition modeling technologies). This phenomenon generated an increased interest from incumbents in this market, and it is of particular interest to investigate how they are planning to protect the actual and future value in terms of intellectual property.

The research methodology I’ll employ during my investigation is based on three main steps:

  1. Analysis of patent databases and data interpretation;
  2. Crosscheck to sector experts to validate the results obtained;
  3. Final reporting.

I welcome any suggestions or comments on this research activity. Please contact me at gm512@cam.ac.uk.

Image source: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/blogs/ipofacto/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/11/topo-map.png

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Visit to the EPSRC Centre for Innovate Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing

On 28 April the Bit by Bit team travelled to Nottingham to meet members of the Executive Team at the EPSRC Centre for Innovate Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing, which is hosted by the Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing Research Group (3DPRG) at the University of Nottingham.

For this visit the Bit by Bit project team of Tim Minshall, Letizia Mortara, Simon Ford and Dominik Deradjat were joined by Ronan Daly and Ching-Hsien Chen, colleagues from the Inkjet Research Centre at IfM. At Nottingham the group met Prof. Richard Hague, Director of the Centre and Professor of Innovative Manufacturing; Chris Tuck, Deputy Director; Prof. Phill Dickens, Executive Board Member and Professor of Manufacturing Technology, and Phil Reeves, National Outreach Coordinator for the Centre and Managing Director of Econolyst.

During our visit we were treated to a tour of the facilities and heard about the evolution of the group’s research activities. The group has historically worked very closely with industry at higher technology readiness levels; in recent years it has expanded its range of activities to conduct more basic science and experimental work. The group is rapidly expanding, with it this year also becoming the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Additive Manufacturing.

As well as hearing about their activities, we also shared some of our current work on mapping the emergence of 3D printing. As our hosts have significantly more knowledge about the industry we received some excellent feedback on the content within the maps, had some outstanding questions resolved and some pointers on issues that we could investigate. We look forward to further discussions with the centre and participating at the Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing International Conference at Nottingham in July.

Image source: http://www.3dp-research.com/About-EPSRC-additive-manufacturing

Bit by Bit at the Cambridge Enterprise & Technology Club – 24th April

Letizia Mortara of the Bit by Bit project will be speaking about 3D printing and new business models at the Cambridge Enterprise & Technology Club on 24th April. She will be joined by David Smith of TTP, who will be talking about the opportunities for TTP Vista inkjet in 3D printing, and serial entrepreneur Roberta Lucca of Bossa Studios.

More details about the event can be found here: http://www.cetc.info/24th-apr-2014-3d-printing/

New Bit by Bit recruits

Along with undergraduate teaching, we also have an MPhil course in Industrial Systems, Manufacturing and Management here at the Institute for Manufacturing. As part of their studies, participants on the MPhil complete an 18 week research dissertation. The Bit by Bit team has just recruited four of these students to help our investigations into 3D printing, with their work running from April to August this year.

The students will be looking at the emergence and adoption of 3D printing. Each will be doing so in a specific application domain:

  1. Dental implants
  2. Snow sports
  3. Luxury goods
  4. Bioprinting tissues and organs

Studies of industrial and technological emergence point to the importance of niches in providing the habitats in which novel technologies can begin to be commercialised, demonstrating their capabilities before wider market adoption. The first three of these domains are niches where 3D printing may find entry points.

The first domains, dental implants, is the most mature. A number of companies including 3D Systems, EnvisionTEC, EOS and Stratasys produce specialist 3D printers for the manufacture of dental implants. These systems have been used by orthodontists and dental laboratories for a few years now. The dissertation will seek to explore to what degree the introduction of 3D printing has caused industry reconfiguration.

Snow sports have traditionally been an area in which there has been a high degree of user innovation and experimentation around new materials and manufacturing processes. While skis and snowboards may not appear immediately attractive applications for 3D printing, there are a range of other novel applications of 3D printing emerging in this space, such as the Edinburgh start-up ALPrint offering customised ski boot insoles.

The high end of the market often provides scope for the introduction of new products. Has this been the case for 3D printing in the luxury goods market? This is an interesting question to explore because luxury goods are often defined by their rarity and the craftsmanship that has gone into the product. When a design can be reproduced at the touch of a button, how does that affect the perception of a luxury good? If the Hoptroff No. 10 pocket watch is any indication then it will still be able to attract a premium price.

Finally, furthest from market is the bioprinting of tissues and organs. The hope that one day in the not too distant future we might be able to replace our defective body parts with new ones. This research will map the evolution of bioprinting up to the present day.

We’d like to hear from you if you’re currently working in one of these domains and are willing to help our students with their research.

Image source: http://www.hoptroff.com/collections/timepieces/products/no-10

Bit by Bit Advisory Network

The need for input and guidance from academics, industrialists and policymakers has led us to create an ‘advisory network’ for the project.

A first meeting involving members of this network was held in December at the Institute for Manufacturing, including representatives from the BSI, the Centre for Science and Policy, Dyson, the IET and Nesta. Participants contributed their perspectives on the specific challenges that we should investigate within our overall project plan.

Those with an active professional interest in the impacts of 3D printing are invited to contact the research team and join this growing community.

Image source: http://www.3dsystems.com/files/cubify_robots_zprint.png