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With 3D printing, a simple sketch leads to big savings

Takeda is using 3D printers at our manufacturing sites to increase efficiency and reduce downtime — and costs.

Manufacturing sites are dependent on spare parts for their manufacturing equipment. Many of our spare parts are not only unique and expensive; they can also take time to replace if we don't keep them in stock. 

“With 3D printing, we can store these parts digitally and print them on demand,” says Dominic Duda, Global Engineering Technology Solution Lead. “If a machine breaks down, it potentially means manufacturing downtime and in the worst case, supply backlog.” 

Avoiding these downtime costs is just one benefit of 3D printing technology. It also provides a way to test top-secret R&D projects.  

And it's become indispensable for employee training. At our Hikari Plant, only qualified operators are allowed to enter the sterile formulation department, so it can take up to a month to train a new operator. Using 3D printing to create inexpensive mockups of the equipment has reduced training time to just three days.   

But the greatest benefit of 3D printing may be that it gives employees who are closest to frontline manufacturing activities the opportunity to propose new solutions and quickly and inexpensively turn them into reality – this is called rapid prototyping. 

“You can do a simple sketch of your idea, give it to an engineer, and we can bring it to life in a couple of iterations,” Dominic says. “It’s ‘this is what I need, can we connect these two parts?’ and the engineer says, ‘yes, give me two hours.’”