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Article summary:

1. 3D printing technology has the potential to disrupt global value chains (GVCs) by changing their geographic span and density. This technology allows for the layer-by-layer additive construction of 3D objects from digital designs, which threatens traditional retailers, distributors, and manufacturers of tangible goods.

2. The adoption of 3D printing technology is expanding beyond rapid prototyping and being applied in the manufacture of a wide array of products. It is seen as a path to sustainable development for low-income countries and has the potential to replace most industrial processes with personal fabrication and peer production.

3. The rise of 3D printing technology has been steeper in some industries than others, depending on factors such as the type of materials used, the need for customization and speedy delivery, and the cost-effectiveness of printing complex objects. This technology puts the means of production back into the hands of households and undermines some advantages of multinational enterprises (MNEs).

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