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A bibliometric method for assessing technological maturity: the case of additive manufacturing

René Lezama-Nicolás (), Marisela Rodríguez-Salvador (), Rosa Río-Belver () and Iñaki Bildosola ()
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René Lezama-Nicolás: Tecnologico de Monterrey
Marisela Rodríguez-Salvador: Tecnologico de Monterrey
Rosa Río-Belver: University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Basque Country
Iñaki Bildosola: University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Basque Country

Scientometrics, 2018, vol. 117, issue 3, 1425-1452

Abstract: Abstract While novel technologies have tremendous competitive potential, they also involve certain risks. Maturity assessment analyzes how well a technological development can fulfill an expected task. The technology readiness level (TRL) has been considered to be one of the most promising approaches for addressing technological maturity. Nonetheless, its assessment requires opinions of the experts, which is costly and implies the risk of personal bias. To fill this gap, this paper presents a Bibliometric Method for Assessing Technological Maturity (BIMATEM). It is a repeatable framework that assesses maturity quantitatively. Our method is based on the assumption that each technology life cycle stage can be matched to technology records contained in scientific literature, patents, and news databases. The scientific papers and patent records of mature technologies display a logistic growth behavior, while news records follow a hype-type behavior. BIMATEM determines the maturity level by curve fitting technology records to these behaviors. To test our approach, BIMATEM was applied to additive manufacturing (AM) technologies. Our results revealed that material extrusion, material jetting, powder bed fusion and vat photopolymerization are the most mature AM technologies with TRL between 6 and 7, followed by directed energy deposition with TRL between 4 and 5, and binder jetting and sheet lamination, the least mature, with TRL between 1 and 2. BIMATEM can be used by competitive technology intelligence professionals, policymakers, and further decision makers whose main interests include assessing the risk of implementing new technologies. Future research can focus on testing the method with regard to altmetrics.

Keywords: Technology maturity; Technology readiness level; Technology life cycle; Bibliometrics; Additive manufacturing; 62-07; C13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:spr:scient:v:117:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-018-2941-1