Self-Design Fun: Should 3D Printing Be Employed in Mass Customization Operations?

Shu Guo, Tsan Ming Choi (Corresponding Author), Sai Ho Chung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Today, in the market with ever-changing consumer preferences, three-dimensional (3D) printing is becoming an overwhelming trend. In this paper, we explore the use of 3D printing in mass customization (MC) programs. We consider the case when 3D printing brings extra self-design fun to consumers, which is highlighted in MC practices of the auto company BMW and the furniture company Poltrona Frau, and also changes the cost formula (i.e., the marginal product variety cost) of the MC product. In addition, the roles played by the risk attitudes of the MC manufacturer and consumers, consumer returns, as well as consumers’ time sensitive behaviors, are also uncovered. We find that under the case with a low consumer's willingness to pay for the traditional “ready-made product variety enjoyment” (RPVE), even the maximized product variety level and the additional self-design fun cannot make the 3D printing based MC more profitable. In addition, compared to the markets with risk-averse and risk-neutral consumers, the 3D printing based MC can increase more MRBs and a higher consumer surplus by simultaneously highlighting the high self-design fun and the high RPVE in a market with risk-seeking consumers. The high flexibility and responsiveness of 3D printing also shows its advantages in remanufacturing the consumer returned MC items and enhancing MC programs’ overall lead-time. Finally, applying 3D printing in creating molds can also help the MC manufacturer tackle demand uncertainties. These findings all provide a good reference to the application of 3D printing in MC operations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)883-897
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Operational Research
Volume299
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Supply chain management
  • 3D printing
  • Mass customization
  • Risk attitudes
  • Self-design fun

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