Antonio Esparza

Antonio Esparza

Doctor of Philosophy candidate

How does 3D printing change how entrepreneurs work? That’s the interesting topic Antonio Esparza is exploring for his PhD in creative technologies.

“Traditionally, we design a product. We then convince customers, partners and suppliers of its utility and start making networks according to the product architecture. These stakeholders then develop an idea of the product and its performance that shapes the business through time. However, the flexibility of 3D printing changes all that.

“Now, we can make our products as complex as we want as long as they’re inside the production volume, and we can change the products’ architecture without capital investment. Therefore, when we start businesses with 3D printers we can change our business networks and future affordances every time we change the product architecture. My research explores how this flexibility is changing the behaviour of entrepreneurs.”

Challenging conventional thinking
Having previously experimented with 3D printing himself, Antonio says this background led him to his PhD research, and to AUT.

“After experimenting with additive manufacturing for a while, I realised that the implementation of 3D printing in new business creation is complicated. I decided to explore this further and was attracted to AUT because of the transdisciplinary nature of the creative technologies programmes. This space is not commonly found in postgraduate studies,” says Antonio who came to AUT as an international student from Mexico, supported by a scholarship from the Mexican government.

“The implementation of innovation strategies is always full of uncertainty and complexity. Creative technologies is a domain that recognises this uncertainty. Creative technologies touches edge technology and social changes with a critical perspective that enables you to question not only what you’re doing with technology but why.”

He plans to use the insights from his research to inform entrepreneurs of the opportunities 3D printing offers, says Antonio who has already presented some of his findings at the EAI International Conference on Technology, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Education in the UK, and participated in The Future Fabrication Summit in Copenhagen.

Diverse opportunities
The wide range of opportunities students have access to has been a highlight of his studies, Antonio says.

“The most enjoyable part of my studies has been the range of opportunities at AUT – from the people and the technology to the diverse activities I’ve been able to participate in. I also appreciate being able to interact with such a range of disciplines through my studies, including performance studies, Māori development, economics, entrepreneurship, design, engineering and computer science.”

He says he would highly recommend AUT’s Colab to other postgraduate students.

“I would highly recommend Colab for projects like mine that can’t be embraced by only one study area. This transdisciplinarity is very important today with digital technologies and innovation blurring boundaries between spaces and moments in our lives.”