‘Leaning’ into 3D printing for Lean Manufacturing

3D printing, in combination with decentralized manufacturing, offers unique capabilities that can help eliminate or reduce many of these wastes.

At its core, lean manufacturing is about creating value by minimizing waste and using production resources efficiently. Waste, in the context of lean manufacturing, refers to any activity or process that does not add value to the end product or service, increase costs and decrease efficiency. Toyota’s chief engineer, Taiichi Ohno, has developed seven types of wastes, commonly known as the “Seven Wastes” or “Muda” in Japanese.

  • Overproduction: Producing more than what is needed
  • Waiting: Parts, materials or information are not available, when needed, resulting in delays and inefficiency
  • Transportation: Unnecessary movement or transportation of goods
  • Excess inventory: Holding more inventory than necessary ties up capital, increases storage costs and can result in obsolete or wasted inventory
  • Motion: Unnecessary movement or motion of people, equipment or materials
  • Over-processing: Doing more work than necessary can lead to unnecessary costs, time and effort
  • Defects: Products or parts that do not meet quality standards, resulting in rework, scrap or customer returns

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