Tag Archives: distributed manufacturing

New paper on distributed manufacturing published

A new paper with a contribution from the 3DP-RDM network has now been published in the International Journal of Production Research. The paper Distributed manufacturing: scope, challenges and opportunities is a collective effort from participants in the EPSRC re-distributed manufacturing networks and is authored by Jagjit Singh Srai, Mukesh Kumar, Gary Graham, Wendy Phillips, James Tooze, Simon Ford, Paul Beecher, Baldev Raj, Mike Gregory, Manoj Kumar Tiwari, B. Ravi, Andy Neely, Ravi Shankar, Fiona Charnley and Ashutosh Tiwari. The paper is part of the forthcoming special issue “Distributed manufacturing to enhance productivity”, which is doubly special for our project as it also features Letizia Mortara and Nicolas Parisot’s paper Through entrepreneurs’ eyes: the Fab-spaces constellation.


This discussion paper aims to set out the key challenges and opportunities emerging from distributed manufacturing (DM). We begin by describing the concept, available definitions and consider its evolution where recent production technology developments (such as additive and continuous production process technologies), digitisation together with infrastructural developments (in terms of IoT and big data) provide new opportunities. To further explore the evolving nature of DM, the authors, each of whom are involved in specific applications of DM research, examine through an expert panel workshop environment emerging DM applications involving new production and supporting infrastructural technologies. This paper presents these generalisable findings on DM challenges and opportunities in terms of products, enabling production technologies and the impact on the wider production and industrial system. Industry structure and location of activities are examined in terms of the democratising impact on participating network actors. The paper concludes with a discussion on the changing nature of manufacturing as a result of DM, from the traditional centralised, large-scale, long lead-time forecast-driven production operations to a new DM paradigm where manufacturing is a decentralised, autonomous near end user-driven activity. A forward research agenda is proposed that considers the impact of DM on the industrial and urban landscape.

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New fab-spaces paper accepted for publication

The Bit by Bit team is pleased to announce that Letizia Mortara and Nicolas Parisot’s paper Through entrepreneurs’ eyes: the Fab-spaces constellation has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Production Research. The paper will be part of the forthcoming special issue “Distributed manufacturing to enhance productivity”, guest edited by Prof. Manoj Kumar Tiwari, Prof. Sir Mike Gregory and Prof. Baldev Raj.  This paper builds on the previous work presented at the first World Open Innovation Conference, Napa, CA, 4-5 December 2014.

While the paper is being formally processed and formatted by the Journal, a pre-publication version is available on ResearchGate. Here’s the abstract to give you a taste of what the paper covers.


Fab-spaces provide individuals with access to numerous manufacturing equipment (including additive manufacturing), to carry out different types of projects. Although scholars are starting to speculate about the importance of these new organizational forms and their potential for future distributed innovation and production ecologies, this phenomenon is still largely unexplored. Building on existing multidisciplinary research, this paper offers the first empirical analysis of existing fab-spaces as providers of knowledge and production competencies. Amongst all the possible perspectives to derive a framework, we choose that of fab-spaces users who have an entrepreneurial intention. After deriving an analytical framework to position fab-spaces in the current academic discourse, the paper develops a classification, which considers the competences available to entrepreneurs, via fab-spaces, in conjunction with how these competences are provided. The resulting map reveals the complementarities amongst the different fab-spaces. It also shows that the current portfolio of fab-spaces supports mainly the distribution of innovation across locations and social groups. Several types of fab-spaces are currently well placed to support the transition from innovation to manufacturing, but their geographical distribution and range of manufacturing capabilities is not yet enough to provide a fully distributed manufacturing model. This study has practical consequences for entrepreneurs, in the better identification of the appropriate fab-spaces for their needs, and for policy makers, to help position the different types of fab-spaces as elements for national systems of innovation and production.

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Seminar: New Trends in Social Manufacturing

Our friends at Aalto University in Finland are organising a seminar this July on “New Trends in Social Manufacturing: Individual, Social, Distributed”. Details from the organisers about the event are below.

New Trends in Social Manufacturing
Individual, Social, Distributed
28-29 July 2016
Venue: TUAS House, Street Otaniementie 17, Espoo
Aalto University, Finland

Welcome to the first Social Manufacturing research workshop on July 28th to 29th, 2016 at Aalto University, Finland.

For whom?
The workshop is especially for researchers who are interested in the changing trends in manufacturing. We will focus on variety of sustainable business models: social manufacturing, distributed manufacturing, open innovation, prosumer involvement, related new technologies, and other approaches.

Why attend?
Researchers who are interested in publishing on the topic, possibly in a dedicated special issue. Individuals who want to join the global researcher network on the topic.

For registration and more information:
Timo Nyberg +358 50 5604 438, timo.nyberg@aalto.fi  (see http://www.softwarebusinesslab.fi)

The seminar is free of charge.

[Image source: Markko Hämäläinen]