The Leap-Frogging Potential of Information Technology for Development: The Case of 3D Printing in Pohnpei (Federated States of Micronesia)
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This modified, participatory action research study investigates the potential for 3D printing for development (3DP4D) on the remote Pacific island of Pohnpei (The Federated States of Micronesia), specifically in an attempt to visualize opportunities for the technology to affect the state and national trade imbalance. The study examines import statistics and coordinates with government leaders and business managers as stakeholders to eventually generate and recommend a business model to restructure supply chains to the advantage of islanders. Through the study, the research classifies Pohnpei as a “Goldilocks Island State”, where demand exists, but in quantities too small to effectively service through traditional resource strategies. The research suggests the recommended 3D printing business model may have applications in other locations where long-distance replacement part sourcing can cause significant economic strains/drains for micro-economies. The study reviews available 3D printing technologies, identifies the role of density in import substitution, and makes suggestions for the technology’s promise in Pohnpei for such industries as industrial components, automotive/marine and dental replacements. The study asserts that certain revolutionary new factors such as bioplastics and recycled materials are sustainable game-changers for remote locations, and recognizes great potential to positively affect the trade imbalance that lies in domestic agricultural policy. Finally, with 3D printing comes the opportunity to bring limited manufacturing capabilities, which along with utilizing locally available resources, can permit a type of insurance buffer as a hedge against international traders, especially for outerislands where it has historically been impossible for government to provide a full range of services.
Master thesis development management- University of Agder, 2015