iCAT 2014 Invited lectures

Willie Van Straaten
!nventec, South Africa
Exploring Additive Manufacturing through the lens of Value Innovation

There are major forces reverberating through our world today - impacting individuals, companies and industries alike, including those involved in additive manufacturing. The key questions to be addressed are:


Firstly, how to effectively navigate the trends and forces of change that are sweeping the business environment today; secondly, and perhaps more importantly, how to exploit these changes as opportunities within the realm of additive manufacturing; and thirdly, what can be done to advance the case of additive manufacturing as a disruptive and enabling technology.

One perspective is to investigate challenges and opportunities facing additive manufacturing through a manufacturing lens. Such a view, however, may be too limiting to be practical and productive. An alternative point of view would be to apply a wider lens and see additive manufacturing as a link in a value chain, i.e. part of a sequence of activities aimed at progressively transforming a product idea into a market offering that is responsive to the needs and wants of the target customer. Such a perspective leads to the concept of value innovation - rooted in the capacity to think creatively and innovatively - a capability considered by leading companies around the globe as key to gaining competitive advantage and profitability.

By placing additive manufacturing within the context of value innovation, the perspective of the practitioner can be broadened and attention can be directed and focused on the stages, phases and sequence of activities necessary to create product offerings that are competitive, unique and valuable. To highlight the potential benefits and implications of such an approach for the practitioner of additive manufacturing, value innovation and its underlying components will be discussed by answering questions such as: What is meant by value? How is value created, delivered and captured? How to generate and evaluate new product ideas? What is a customer value proposition (CVP) and how must it be defined in order to resonate with the target market? What is the interrelationship between creativity, invention, innovation and a business model?

Practitioners of additive manufacturing are currently engaged in a wide array of activities along the value chain where they act, for example, as makers, hobbyists, marketers, product developers, suppliers and manufacturers. Surrounding and impacting upon these activities are major trends such as the growth and use of the internet, widespread social connectivity, rapid technological advances and fierce competition. Furthermore, the convergence of additive manufacturing with related technologies - intelligent software, novel materials, dexterous robots, and a range of web-based services, offer those involved in additive manufacturing a wide array of options to compete, innovate, and grow profitably.

It is proposed that by embracing a value innovation perspective, practitioners of additive manufacturing will be better equipped to leverage the strengths of additive manufacturing, capitalize upon the new and emerging technologies and ultimately, create competitive and profitable products capable of delivering value and satisfaction to the customer.