Additive manufacturing (AM) is an emergent technology that is shifting the nature of production, sourcing, and other value-chain activities. AM has the potential to substantially disrupt the structure and operations of international business. In this paper, we leverage the global factory concept (e.g., Buckley & Ghauri, 2004) to frame our discussion of the likely impact of AM on global production. We identify and conceptualize specific variables and relationships to offer a nuanced explanation that highlights the potential re-distribution of global production at four levels of analysis – global, country, local area, and household. We propose how key variables – Intellectual Property Status, Industrial Standards, Branding, Aesthetics, Authenticity, Material Type, Complexity, Customization, Size, Logistical Complexity, Delivery Timeliness, Demand, Access, and Technical Competence – likely will impact localization of production. We examine industries and production activities likely to be most affected by AM. We conclude with a discussion of managerial and practical implications and identify avenues for further research.
- Additive manufacturing
- Disruptive technology
- Distributed digital manufacturing
- Global factory