image description

[Publication] TF&SC – Innovation Pathways in Additive Manufacturing. Douglas K. R. Robinson, Axel Lagnau and Wouter Boon

A core activity of LISIS since I’s foundation has been the characterisation of emerging technological fields.  As part of this endeavour, the September 2019 issue of Technological Forecasting and Social Change includes an article by LISIS members Douglas Robinson and Axel Lagnau based on a three year study of 3D printing.

The paper can be found at the following link:


In recent years, the Forecasting Innovation Pathway approach (FIP) has shown to be a promising set of tools to capture potential developments in emerging fields through capturing indications of endogenous futures. However, the FIP approach is reliant on a clear demarcated area to study, a challenge for emerging technology fields where uncertainty and rhetoric abound.  This paper presents an addition to the FIP toolbox that helps characterise and demarcate boundaries of emerging fields to allow for deeper analysis through other FIP methods. We illustrate this approach through an exercise for 3D printing technology (also known as Additive Manufacturing).  We show that 3D printing can be represented by a dominant design: a tri-partite configuration of printer, material and digital design software. In the past decade we have seen significant branching from applications in rapid-prototyping to medical, fashion, aeronautics and supply chain management with a variety of elements coming together in tri-partite configurations.  The paper adds to the current FTA literature an approach building on evolutionary theories of technical change to help with such situations – emerging, evolving and branching ‘innovation pathways’. Moreover, we developed a methodology to construct these innovation paths.