Customer centric innovation: adoption of 3D printing in the Italian jewellery sector


customer centric innovation
new technology adoption
3D printing

How to Cite

Martinelli, E. M. (2019). Customer centric innovation: adoption of 3D printing in the Italian jewellery sector. Piccola Impresa Small Business, (2).
Received 2018-08-03
Accepted 2018-11-16
Published 2019-02-12


Three-dimensional printing (3D printing) is one of the customer centric innovations that characterizes the new industrial revolution. This innovation has significant implications for many companies in any sector, even the most traditional ones. The present study aims to lay the foundations for increasing and extending the knowledge on customer centric innovation and to identify the key determinants that allow the adoption of a “customer centric innovation”, in particular 3D printing, by business customers from the point of view of a technology provider through a conceptual framework. To achieve this purpose, a theoretical model from the literature review on customer centric innovation is identified, and then a qualitative research composed of two main steps is carried out. The first step is formed by the study of the Italian jewellery sector through an extensive desk research and meeting with experts. This allows shedding light on the role of 3D printing and dynamics of the sector, where numerous Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) emerged. The second step is constituted by the analysis of a case study in order to identify the determinants that allow the adoption of 3D printing by business customers from the point of view of a SME which is technology provider. The results underline that in this context the technology provider has to be able to align strategy, supply chain network, and technology under the influence of some external forces. Only this process can lead to the adoption of customer centric innovation by creating a potential and real value for business customers that does not extinguish itself with the technological potential that 3D printing already incorporates.


3D System. (2016). Industries applications. Retrieved 17 November 2016, from

Anderson, C. (2012). Makers: The New Industrial Revolution. New York: Crown Business.

Aragón-Correa, J. A., García-Morales, V. J., & Cordón-Pozo, E. (2007). Leadership and organizational learning’s role on innovation and performance: Lessons from Spain. Industrial Marketing Management, 36(3), 349–359.

Assink, M. (2006). Inhibitors of disruptive innovation capability: a conceptual model. European Journal of Innovation Management, 9(2), 215–233.

ASTM International. (2017). The Global Leader in Additive Manufacturing Standards. Retrieved 22 January 2017, from

Attaran, M. (2017). The rise of 3-D printing : The advantages of additive manufacturing over traditional manufacturing. Business Horizons, 60(5), 677–688.

Berman, B. (2012). 3-D printing: The new industrial revolution. Business Horizons, 55(2), 155–162.

Bogers, M., Hadar, R., & Bilberg, A. (2016). Additive manufacturing for consumer-centric business models: Implications for supply chains in consumer goods manufacturing. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 102, 225–239.

Brem, A., Maier, M., & Wimschneider, C. (2016). Competitive advantage through innovation: the case of Nespresso. European Journal of Innovation Management, 16(1), 133–148.

Brennan, L., Ferdows, K., Godsell, J., Golini, R., Keegan, R., Kinkel, S., & Taylor, M. (2015). Manufacturing in the world: where next? International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 35(9), 1253–1274.

Carrigan, M., McEachern, M., Moraes, C., & Bosangit, C. (2017). The fine jewellery industry: Corporate responsibility challenges and institutional forces facing SMEs. Journal of Business Ethics, 143(4), 681–699.

Cautela, C., Pisano, P., & Pironti, M. (2014). The emergence of new networked business models from technology innovation: an analysis of 3-D printing design enterprises. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 10(3), 487–501.

Chew, E. K. (2016). i SIM : An integrated design method for commercializing service innovation. Information Systems Frontiers, 18(3), 457–478.

Christopher, M. (2016). Logistics & supply chain management. Pearson Higher Ed.

Christopher, M., & Holweg, M. (2011). ‘Supply Chain 2.0’: managing supply chains in the era of turbulence. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 41(1), 63–82.

Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (1979). Quasi-experimentation: Design and analysis for field settings. Rand McNally.

Cooper, F. (2015). Sintering and additive manufacturing: the new paradigm for the jewellery manufacturer. Johnson Matthey Technology Review, 59(3), 233–242.

Cooper, F. (2016). Sintering and additive manufacturing:‘additive manufacturing and the new paradigm for the jewellery manufacturer’. Progress in Additive Manufacturing, 1(1–2), 29–43.

Crosby, L. A., & Johnson, S. L. (2006). Customer-centric innovation. Marketing Management, 15(2), 12–13.

Crouch, M., & McKenzie, H. (2006). The logic of small samples in interview-based qualitative research. Social Science Information, 45(4), 483–499.

Denning, S. (2013). Ten drivers of radical management in the ‘“ creative economy ”’, 41(6), 18–30.

Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989). Building Theories From Case Study Research. The Academy of Management Review, 14(4).

Eisenhardt, K. M., & Graebner, M. E. (2007). Theory building from cases: Opportunities and challenges. Academy of Management Journal, 50(1), 25–32.

Ellram, L. M. (1996). The use of the Case Study Method in Logistics Research. Journal of Business Logistics, 17(2), 93–138.

Flint, D. J., Larsson, E., & Gammelgaard, B. (2008). Exploring Processes for Customer Value Insights, Supply Chain Learning and Innovation: An International Study. Journal of Business Logistics, 29(1), 257–281.

Foster, R. N. (1986). Working the S-curve: assessing technological threats. Research Management, 29(4), 17–20.

Gatignon, H., & Xuereb, J. M. (1997). Strategic orientation of the firm and new product performance. Journal of Marketing Research, 77–90.

Gibbert, M., Ruigrok, W., & Wicki, B. (2008). What passes as a rigorous case study? Strategic Management Journal, 29(13), 1465–1474.

Gibson, I., Rosen, D., & Stucker, B. (2015). Additive Manufacturing Technologies 3D Printing, Rapid Prototyping, and Direct Digital Manufacturing. Rapid Manufacturing Association. New York: Springer.

Gligor, D. M., & Holcomb, M. C. (2012). Understanding the role of logistics capabilities in achieving supply chain agility: a systematic literature review. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 17(4), 438–453.

Gupta, A. K., Raj, S. P., & Wilemon, D. (1986). A model for studying R&D. Marketing interface in the product innovation process. The Journal of Marketing, 7–17.

Hoeber, B., & Schaarschmidt, M. (2017). Transforming from service providers to solution providers: Implications for provider-customer relationships and customer-induced solution innovation. International Journal of Technology Management, 73(1–3), 65–90.

Holmström, J., Holweg, M., Khajavi, S. H., & Partanen, J. (2016). The direct digital manufacturing (r) evolution: definition of a research agenda. Operations Management Research, 9(1–2), 1–10.

Holmström, J., Liotta, G., & Chaudhuri, A. (2017). Sustainability outcomes through direct digital manufacturing-based operational practices: A design theory approach. Journal of Cleaner Production, 167, 951–961.

Holmström, J., & Partanen, J. (2014). Digital manufacturing-driven transformations of service supply chains for complex products. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 19(4), 421–430.

Hopkinson, N., Hague, R., & Dickens, P. (2006). Rapid manufacturing: an in- dustrial revolution for the digital age. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Italian Exhibition Group SpA. (2017). Dinamiche del settore orafo-gioielliero. Retrieved 15 July 2017, from

Jia, F., Wang, X., Mustafee, N., & Hao, L. (2016). Investigating the feasibility of supply chain-centric business models in 3D chocolate printing: A simulation study. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 102, 202–213.

Johannessen, J. A., & Olsen, B. (2010). The future of value creation and innovations: Aspects of a theory of value creation and innovation in a global knowledge economy. International Journal of Information Management, 30(6), 502–511.

Klein, K. J., & Sorra, J. S. (1996). The challenge of innovation implementation. Academy of Management Review, 21(4), 1055–1080.

Kohler, T., Matzler, K., & Füller, J. (2009). Avatar-based innovation: Using virtual worlds for real-world innovation. Technovation, 29(6–7), 395–407.

Kvale, S. (1996). InterViews. London: SAGE publications.

Lagrosen, S. (2005). Customer involvement in new product development: A relationship marketing perspective. European Journal of Innovation Management, 8(4), 424–436.

Lambert, D. M., & Cooper, M. C. (2000). Issues in supply chain management. Industrial Marketing Management, 29(1), 65–83.

Leavy, B. (2017). Customer-centered innovation: improving the odds for success. Strategy & Leadership, 45(2), 3–11.

Lee, J., & AbuAli, M. (2011). Innovative Product Advanced Service Systems (I-PASS): methodology, tools, and applications for dominant service design. The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, 52(9–12), 1161–1173.

Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. SAGE publications.

Marzi, G., Zollo, L., Boccardi, A., & Ciappei, C. (2017). Additive manufacturing in SMEs: empirical evidences from Italy. International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management.

Marzi, G., Zollo, L., Boccardi, A., & Ciappei, C. (2018). Additive manufacturing in SMEs: empirical evidences from Italy. International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management, 15(1).

McCutcheon, D. M., & Meredith, J. R. (1993). Conducting case study research in operations management. Journal of Operations Management, 11(3), 239–256.

Mellor, S., Hao, L., & Zhang, D. (2014). Additive manufacturing: A framework for implementation. International Journal of Production Economics, 149, 194–201.

Meredith, J. (1998). Building operations management theory through case and field research. Journal of Operations Management, 16(4), 441–454.

Nobre, F. (2011). Core competencies of the new industrial organization. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 22(4), 422–443.

Osakwe, C. N. (2016). Crafting an effective brand oriented strategic framework for growth-aspiring small businesses: A conceptual study. The Qualitative Report, 21(2), 163.

Palacios-Marques, D., Guijarro, M., & Carrilero, A. (2016). The use of customer-centric philosophy in hotels to improve customer loyalty. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 31(3), 339–348.

Petrick, I. J., & Simpson, T. W. (2013). 3D printing disrupts manufacturing: how economies of one create new rules of competition. Research-Technology Management, 56(6), 12–16.

Piekkari, R., Plakoyiannaki, E., & Welch, C. (2010). ‘Good’ case research in industrial marketing: Insights from research practice. Industrial Marketing Management, 39(1), 109–117.

Porter, M. (1983). The Technical Dimension of Competitive Strategy. Research on Technological Innovation, Management and Policy.

Price, R., & Wrigley, C. (2016). Design and a deep customer insight approach to innovation. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 28(2), 92–105.

Reuter, C., Foerstl, K. A. I., Hartmann, E. V. I., & Blome, C. (2010). Sustainable global supplier management: the role of dynamic capabilities in achieving competitive advantage. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 46(2), 45–63.

Ridder, H. G. (2017). The theory contribution of case study research designs. Business Research, 10(2), 281–305.

Rogers, H., Baricz, N., & Pawar, K. S. (2016). 3D printing services: classification, supply chain implications and research agenda. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 40(10), 886–907.

Romero, D., & Molina, A. (2011). Collaborative networked organisations and customer communities: value co-creation and co-innovation in the networking era. Production Planning & Control, 22(5–6), 447–472.

Ryan, M. J., Eyers, D. R., Potter, A. T., Purvis, L., & Gosling, J. (2017). 3D printing the future: scenarios for supply chains reviewed. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 47(10), 992–1014.

Rylands, B., Böhme, T., Gorkin III, R., Fan, J., & Birtchnell, T. (2016). The adoption process and impact of additive manufacturing on manufacturing systems. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 27(7), 969–989.

Sabatino, M. (2016). Economic crisis and resilience: Resilient capacity and competitiveness of the enterprises. Journal of Business Research, 69(5), 1924–1927.

Sasson, A., & Johnson, C. J. (2016). The 3D printing order: variability, supercenters and supply chain reconfigurations. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 46(1), 82–94.

Schneckenberg, D., Velamuri, V. K., Comberg, C., & Spieth, P. (2017). Business model innovation and decision making: uncovering mechanisms for coping with uncertainty. R&D Management, 47(3), 404–419.

Selden, L., & MacMillan, I. C. (2006). Manage customer-centric innovation-systematically. Harvard Business Review, 84(4), 108.

Shani, A. B., Sena, J. A., & Olin, T. (2003). Knowledge management and new product development: a study of two companies. European Journal of Innovation Management., 6(3), 137–149.

Sindakis, S., Depeige, A., & Anoyrkati, E. (2015). Customer-centered knowledge management : challenges and implications for knowledge-based innovation in the public transport sector. Journal of Knowledge Management, 19(3), 559–578.

Skinner, W. (1984). Operations Technology: Blind Spot in Strategic Management. Interfaces, 14(1), 116–125.

Soeiro, F. C., & Santos, M. (2015). Network-based innovation : the case for mobile gaming and digital music, 28(2), 155–175.

Souder, W. E., Sherman, J. D., & Davies‐Cooper, R. (1998). Environmental uncertainty, organizational integration, and new product development effectiveness: a test of contingency theory. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 15(6), 520–533.

Stevens, G. C., & Johnson, M. (2016). Integrating the Supply Chain … 25 years on. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 46(1), 19–42.

Stratasys. (2016). 3D Printing In Your Industry | Stratasys. Retrieved 6 October 2016, from

Tax, S. S., McCutcheon, D., & Wilkinson, I. F. (2013). The service delivery network (SDN) a customer-centric perspective of the customer journey. Journal of Service Research, 16(4), 454–470.

Taylor, M., & Taylor, A. (2012). The technology life cycle : Conceptualization and managerial implications. Intern. Journal of Production Economics, 140(1), 541–553.

Tranfield, D., Denyer, D., & Smart, P. (2003). Towards a Methodology for Developing Evidence-Informed Management Knowledge by Means of Systematic Review* Introduction: the need for an evidence- informed approach. British Journal of Management, 14, 207–222.

Versteeg, M., van den Hoven, E., & Hummels, C. (2016). Interactive Jewellery: a design exploration. In In Proceedings of the TEI’16: Tenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction, 44–52.

Vetterli, C., Uebernickel, F., Brenner, W., Petrie, C., & Stermann, D. (2016). How Deutsche Bank’s IT Division Used Design Thinking to Achieve Customer Proximity. MIS Quarterly Executive, 15(1).

Wagner, C., & Majchrzak, A. (2006). Enabling customer-centricity using wikis and the wiki way. Journal of Management Information Systems, 23(3), 17–43.

Weller, C., Kleer, R., & Piller, F. T. (2015). Economic implications of 3D printing : Market structure models in light of additive manufacturing revisited. Intern. Journal of Production Economics, 164, 43–56.

Whetten, D. A. (1989). What constitutes a theoretical contribution? Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 490–495.

Yin, R. K. (1984). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Beverly Hills, Calif: Sage Publications.

Yin, R. K. (1989). Research design issues in using the case study method to study management information systems. The Information Systems Research Challenge: Qualitative Research Methods, 1, 1–6.

Yin, R. K. (2003). Applications of Case Study Research. (Thousand Oaks, Ed.) (2nd editio). SAGE publications.

Yin, R. K. (2013). Validity and generalization in future case study evaluations. Evaluation, 19(3), 321–332.

Zhou, K. Z., Yim, C. K., & Tse, D. K. (2005). The effects of strategic orientations on technology-and market-based breakthrough innovations. Journal of Marketing, 69(2), 42–60.

Zollo, L., Marzi, G., Boccardi, A., & Ciappei, C. (2016). Gli effetti della Stampa 3D sulla competitività aziendale. Il caso delle imprese orafe del distretto di Arezzo. Piccola Impresa/Small Business, 2.

Copyright and licensing:  The journal supports the principles contained in the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to scientific literature (2003), reiterated in the Italian CRUI Guidelines on Open Access journals. Copyright Notice: papers made open to the public are published under the CC BY--4.0 license. 

Archiving :  This journal uses the LOCKSS system to create an archiving system, which is distributed between participating libraries and enables them to search through the permanent archives of the journal for the purposes of conservation and restoration. All journal data and publications are also saved and stored directly on the platform