« 5S and the Dangers of Horizontal Surfaces | Main | Shingo "Know Why" and the Lean Manufacturing Transformation »

23 April 2005


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Personal Fabrication and Desktop Factories:


Some years ago I designed a remote manufacturing cell for use by Caterpillar in delivering spare parts overnight anywhere in the world. The main concern in those days was Komatsu and their like ignoring US patents and simply copying anything sent by blueprint to any job shop anywhere in the world. To use advanced technology and to prevent technology theft, I came up with a system to transmit the drawing in CADDS 4X, later Catia and UG, to a machining center where the part would be cut in wax, then investment cast, the part finished and delivered to the customer within hours, anywhere in the world.

The first site to use this technology, with a very small bite, not the whole ball of wax, was Turbotec in Tijuana, still operating under Caterpillar's wing.

These mini-factories were to be floated up appropriate rivers and then sunk into the mud for stability. On board were the basic tools and materials in various forms. For example, in a traditional job shop you would stock .5", .75", 1" and so on in order to have the right material for minimum machine time. But in my shop we carry only 1", 2" and so on because a chunk can be cut then molten, then poured into the ceramic mold made through investment casting. For sheet stock, only a few of this and that is enough when making replacement parts if the broken part can be used.

It was one of my more interesting projects during my whole Mfg. Eng. career.

I certainly appreciate the value of a small, flexible, adaptable shop where you can make a tool if you don't have one!


The comments to this entry are closed.


  • Get EvolvingExcellence via email:

    | Kindle | Mobile

    Over 10,000 daily readers.

Search the Blog

Twitter Updates



  • Kevin Meyer
    Kevin is a former president of a medical device company and consults and speaks on a variety of lean enterprise topics.
    - More about Kevin



  • The Simple Leader
    Personal and Professional Leadership Habits at the Nexus of Lean and Zen

    by Kevin Meyer

    50 habits from three decades of executive leadership experience.

    More information

    Evolving Excellence
    Thoughts on Lean Enterprise Leadership

    by Kevin Meyer and Bill Waddell

    A 458-page edited and categorized compilation of our favorite posts! All for only $29.95.

    More information