Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2018

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major

Business Administration

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Matthew O''Hern


Technological advancements have made a once fictitious dream into a reality. 3D printing has become a popular manufacturing and design technique used all over the world. As this industry becomes more popular, users of these 3D printers are reaching out across the web to share designs, seek help, and build communities of users with similar interests. This study is meant to look at what motivates 3D printing users to participate in online user innovation communities such as Thingiverse.com. This study will explore motivations such as personal needs, financial gains, approval of peers, skill development, and enjoyment. Moreover, it will assess the impact of each of these motivations on the number of designs created by designers within the observation period (May 2017-May 2018) and on the market response to these designs. To study these elements, we first perused research done in previous studies on motivations in brand communities, transactional communities, and user innovation communities to create a literature review. Following the literature review, a survey was created which asked Thingiverse makers 5 sets of questions related to their specific motivations for creating and sharing designs and asked them to provide demographic data as well. The results obtained from this research indicate that the motivation to satisfy a personal need has a marginally significant, negative impact on the number of designs created by a maker while the desire to gain approval from others in the community has a significant, positive effect on market response to those designs. Additionally, it was found that a desire for financial gain has little to no effect on the number of designs created or on the market response, a result which was surprising considering that 25% of the respondents reported earning money from 3D printing. These results and their implications as well as future research directions are outlined in the concluding discussion section.

Included in

Marketing Commons