What We Can Learn about Creativity from 3D Printing

Sascha Friesike

For the past three years we studied the world’s largest 3D printing community “Thingiverse”. We explored the remix-relationships—accessible due the community’s use of open licenses—of more than 200.000 individual designs, tracked an entire week’s new designs for half a year, interviewed more than 80 creators and surveyed over 200 more. This allowed us to develop a deep understanding of the creative processes that take place on the platform.
In this talk we would like to present our findings. This is of interest to people who care about 3D printing as we can give sort of a behind the scenes view on how ideas come to life here. But it is also interesting to people that care about creativity in general. As what we have found has merit outside of 3D printing, too. In this talk we would like to cover the following: (1) Introduce our research setting and explain why it is useful to study this, (2) provide a consolidated overview on our most interesting findings, and (3) give real life examples for how these findings are transferable to other settings.
We have presented primary results of the studies at various academic conferences and have a comprehensive paper on the project currently under revision at the Journal of Information Technology (see attached file). We are a group of three university professors and a Ph.D. student. We work on the intersection of information systems, innovation management, product development, and creativity. We believe that many of the people we studied either attend 33C3 or watch talks online and we therefore think that our results would be of interest to this community. Further, we feel that a well structured talk is better and more entertaining than mailing around our academic journal publications to those who are interested. And lastly, we are eager to receive feedback from a more hands-on audience (than what we deal with at academic conferences). It would be especially useful for us to hear of new developments, discuss ideas for follow-up research projects, and get access to creators that would like to work with us in the future.

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