Additive manufacturing at LEGO: Developing a holistic management framework for high-volume manufacturers

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för företagande och ledning; Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för marknadsföring och strategi

Abstract: Additive manufacturing (popularly known as 3D printing) is developing rapidly these years becoming increasingly relevant to high-volume manufacturing firms. The additive nature of the production technique makes it distinct to traditional manufacturing techniques that tend to be less flexible. As a result, a separate research agenda for its business implications is needed. However, in spite of the increasing relevance and its scientific distinctiveness, prior research into the topic from the perspective of management science has been very sparse leaving both theorists and practitioners in a vacuum. The thesis is contributing to bridging this research gap by investigating the internal implications of additive manufacturing. More specifically, the focus is on the direct implications for operations and the indirect implications for product development and marketing. Due to the nascent nature of the research field, the study took an abductive approach where prior research was refined through an in-depth case study of the toy manufacturer The LEGO Group. Multiple qualitative approaches were utilized to develop the most holistic framework for additive manufacturing to date. The framework consists of 15 implications relevant for high-volume manufacturers when evaluating the potential of additive manufacturing. Finally, the implications were taken to a more abstract level showing how the common denominator of many of them is to lower the need for buffers.

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