Doctoral defence of M.Sc. Jarkko Moilanen – 3D printing focused Peer Production : Revolution in design, development and manufacturing

The field of science of the dissertation is Information Studies and Interactive Media. The opponent is Associate Professor Athina Karatzogianni (University of Leicester, UK). Docent Tere Vadén acts as the custos. The language of the dissertation defence is English.

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Nascent sharing based 3D printing ecosystem is fueled by maker movement

Jarkko Moilanen’s  dissertation describes the features of the nascent 3D printing focused peer production ecosystem. The foundations of nascent ecosystem are in open source, open design, open source hardware and maker movement. Until 2005, the tools and knowledge as well as the designs of 3D printing were kept inside companies, as closed-source proprietary assets In 2005 Dr Adrian Bowyer initiated the development of an open source hardware 3D printer with the aim that it can mostly reproduce itself. This lead to unseen change in how 3D printing technology is developed and used. After that moment, the legacy cathedral model where knowledge is in the hands of a few experts started to crumble and turn towards a bazaar model, where knowledge and skills as well as results are shared among the members of the community – towards peer production. Jarkko Moilanen’s thesis describes the revolution from 4 different angles: motivation to participate, 3D printing community structure, licensing practices and design process.   The results can be used by 3D printing ecosystem companies to build strategies to explore new innovations and business together with openness driven community.

One of the success stories in low-cost 3D printing industry has been Makerbot Replicator. It initiated from hackerspace in New York, grew from startup to market leader in low-cost easy to use 3D printer markets and was eventually purchased by traditional 3D printer manufacturer . The case of Makerbot is used as an example in exploring the practical nature of open source hardware driven 3D printing focused peer production and it’s often contradictory relationship to business around the community.

In his thesis Jarkko Moilanen also describes market layers and motivation to participate in open ecosystem build around 3D printing. Since 3D printers are entering desktop in the form of free online modelling tools, low-cost 3D printers and sharing of open designs, also the design and manufacturing process has changed. The design process has changed to possibility-driven evolutionary and unpredictable spin model. The freedom of creation the above enable intrigues masses and has fueled the nascent ecosystem to grow.

The peer production generation often popularized as Maker movement with hundreds of makerspaces and hackerspace acts as a petri dish for early stage inventions. Hackers ’disguised’ as makers created a network of hundreds of spaces around the globe to people explore the boundaries of technology while having fun. They changed the common view about hacking from criminal activity to the belief that hacking can be a virtue. The above is the grass root level of peer production ecosystem and enabled the rise of low-cost 3D printers.

The thesis does not aim to fill in gaps in P2P theories. Instead, the focus is to provide more precise descriptive information about the nascent 3d printing ecosystem based on empirical research. This dissertation research was conducted as a set of empirical research cases with different focuses on the overarching theme of how commons based peer production organizes and operates in the internet. In other words, this research is descriptive in nature and analysis is mostly based on statistical methods while some in-depth interviews have been used too.