This article outlines the evolution of additive manufacturing technology, culminating in 3D printing and presents a vision of how this evolution is affecting existing global value chains (GVCs) in production. In particular, we bring up questions about how this new technology can affect the geographic span and density of GVCs. Potentially, wider adoption of this technology has the potential to partially reverse the trend towards global specialization of production systems into elements that may be geographically dispersed and closer to the end users (localization). This leaves the question of whether in some industries diffusion of 3D printing technologies may change the role of multinational enterprises as coordinators of GVCs by inducing the engagement of a wider variety of firms, even households.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jmpearce/117/