Once upon a time was a manufacturer who refused to apply Design for Manufacturability (DFM). The company crafted intricate metal sculptures for commercial use, but their unwillingness to simplify designs resulted in long production times and costly delays.
The complex manufacturing process led to a constant drain on finances. Materials were expensive and skilled labor was in high demand. The quality of their once-praised sculptures dwindled.
After five short years, the manufacturer’s resistance to DFM caused a decline in sales, quality, and profitability. They had to close their doors.
What is DFM?
Design for Manufacturing (DFM) makes you sustainable as a manufacturer. It strengthens your ability to save money, improve quality, and increase speed. DFM is a valuable approach to product development. DFM optimizes the design of a product to make it easier and more cost-effective to manufacture. It should begin during the early conceptual design stage of product development. And it should continue through detailed engineering. By implementing DFM, manufacturers can save significant costs.
The 3 Goals of DFM
1) Streamline and simplify the manufacturing process
2) Reduce manufacturing and assembly costs
3) Maintain or improve product quality
DFM involves several principles and guidelines to optimize the design of a product. The principles may vary based on the industry, product type, and manufacturing processes used.
Your goal is to keep the design as simple as possible while meeting the functional requirements. Try to reduce the number of components. This simplifies assembly, lowers manufacturing costs and reduces complexity in production processes. Albert Einstein figured this out when he said, “The best design is the simplest one that works.”
Your goal is to design parts and components to fit together smoothly. Minimize the number of complex or manual assembly steps. Make sure they easily align, fasten, and connect. This reduces the chance of errors during assembly.
Your goal is to utilize standardized components, materials, and processes whenever possible. This helps streamline manufacturing and reduces the need for custom or specialized parts.
Your goal is to choose materials that are available, cost-effective, and suitable for the manufacturing processes. Material choices can have a major impact both cost and manufacturability.
Your goal is to manage the tolerances in the design to ensure components fit together correctly. Avoid overly tight tolerances which can lead to manufacturing difficulties and higher costs.
Your goal is to design the product for the environment it will be used. Consider every operating condition. Each component in the product must be able to perform in these conditions.
Review and Iterate
Your goal is to hold regular design reviews with cross-functional teams. The team identifies potential manufacturing challenges, analyzes costs, checks quality, and suggests design improvements. Continue to iterate to achieve desired objectives.
Prototype and Test
Your goal is to prototype and test the design to validate the function and performance. Ensure the product and its components comply with all industry standards. These standards can be industry, internal, or company standards.
Your goal is to decide on the optimal manufacturing process based on factors like cost, production volume, and product factors. Automating processes can improve efficiency, decrease labor costs, and enhance quality.
Benefits of DFM
There are long-term benefits to implementing DFM into your product design process. DFM directly impacts a company’s bottom line and competitiveness. Some of the key benefits of DFM include:
- Cost Reduction: DFM helps identify and remove design features that can increase manufacturing costs. Companies can reduce production costs by optimizing the design for efficient production, materials use, and assembly.
- Improved Quality: DFM aims to remove design features that are prone to manufacturing defects. By simplifying the design and minimizing complex assembly steps, DFM can lead to higher product quality and reliability.
- Faster Time to Market: Streamlined and more efficient DFM processes can lead to shorter production lead times. This can help companies get their products to market more quickly, which is crucial in competitive industries.
- Enhanced Product Performance: DFM can lead to better product performance by optimizing design features, materials selection, and manufacturing processes. This can result in products that meet or exceed customer expectations.
- Reduced Scrap and Waste: DFM reduces the likelihood of manufacturing errors and defects. This reduces scrap and waste during production. It not only saves money but also contributes to a more sustainable manufacturing process.
- Increased Production Efficiency: By designing products for manufacturability, companies can achieve higher production efficiency. This includes faster cycle times, lower labor costs, and better use of manufacturing equipment.
- Competitive Advantage: DFM principles can give organizations a competitive edge in the market. They can offer products with lower costs, better quality, and quicker delivery times. This attracts more customers and boosts market share.
- Regulatory Compliance: DFM helps ensure that products meet regulatory and safety standards early in the design stage. This reduces the risk of costly redesigns or recalls later in the product lifecycle.
- Enhanced Innovation: DFM encourages creative problem-solving during the design process. This leads to innovative solutions that can differentiate a product in the marketplace.
Who is Involved in the DFM Process?
DFM needs a variety of experts and teams working collaboratively to achieve optimal results.
- Design Engineers: Design engineers are responsible for creating the initial product design. They work in tandem with other teams to ensure that the design can be manufactured efficiently and cost-effectively. They consider factors like simplicity, standardization, materials, tolerances, environment, and assembly.
- Manufacturing Engineers: Manufacturing engineers play a crucial role in the DFM process. They provide input on how the product can be manufactured. This includes selecting the appropriate manufacturing processes, tools, and equipment. They work to optimize the manufacturing process and minimize production costs.
- Product Managers: Product managers define the product requirements and guide the design and manufacturing teams. They ensure that the product aligns with the company’s goals and customer needs.
- Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) Teams: QA and QC teams define the quality standards. And they ensure that the manufactured product meets these standards. They play a vital role in identifying and addressing potential quality issues during the DFM process.
- Procurement and Supply Chain Teams: These teams source the necessary materials, components, and suppliers required for manufacturing. They need to ensure that the chosen suppliers can meet quality and cost requirements.
- Cost Estimators: Cost estimators calculate the expected manufacturing costs based on the design and manufacturing plans. They help the organization understand the cost implications of design decisions.
- Tooling and Equipment Specialists: They select or design the needed tools, molds, and equipment for manufacturing. They work to ensure that the tools and equipment are efficient and cost-effective.
- Cross-Functional Teams: Often cross-functional teams or committees oversee the DFM process. They bring together experts from various departments for effective communication and collaboration.
- Suppliers and Contract Manufacturers: External suppliers or contract manufacturers may be involved in the DFM process. Sometimes components or processes are outsourced. They need to work closely with the design and manufacturing teams to meet DFM requirements.
- Test and Inspection Teams: These teams define testing and inspection procedures. They ensure the quality and reliability of the manufactured product.
- Regulatory and Compliance Experts: Experts help ensure the design and manufacturing processes meet the required standards.
- Continuous Improvement Teams: Dedicated CI teams focus on ways to improve manufacturing processes. They identify opportunities for efficiency and quality enhancements.
The length of DFM varies from project to project depending on a variety of factors. Effective project management and experienced teams can help streamline the DFM process and minimize delays.
- Complexity of the Product: The complexity of the product design will influence your timeline. A more complex product may need more time for analysis and adjustments.
- Experience and Expertise: The experience and expertise of the design and engineering team can influence the speed. Experienced teams can identify manufacturing issues quicker and propose solutions faster.
- Tools and Software: The availability and effectiveness of DFM tools and software can impact the process. Advanced software can help automate some aspects of DFM analysis to speed up the process.
- Communication: Effective communication between design, engineering, and manufacturing teams is crucial. Delays can occur if there are communication breakdowns or misunderstandings.
- Prototype Testing: Testing and adjusting prototypes can add time. But this step is essential for ensuring product quality and manufacturability.
- Regulatory Compliance: Complying to regulatory requirements or standards can add time to the process.
- Supplier and Material Considerations: Supplier and material availability can impact the timeline. Sourcing components or materials that meet design and manufacturing requirements can cause delays.
- Budget and Timeline Constraints: Budgets and timeline constraints influence your speed. Rushed projects may not allow for as thorough a DFM analysis as more extended timelines.
- Iterative Nature: DFM is often an iterative process, with many rounds of analysis and refinement. The number of iterations required can impact the timeline.
- Geographical Location: Manufacturing location, logistics, and coordination may lengthen time requirements.
DFM principles can be tailored for any industry. Here are a few specific examples of DFM practices within different industries:
Designing medical devices with smooth, easy-to-clean surfaces to meet hygiene requirements.Ensuring ergonomic designs for user-friendly and efficient operation by medical professionals.
Designing engine components that are easy to access and replace, reduces maintenance time and costs. Using standardized fasteners and connectors to simplify assembly and reduce the need for custom parts.
Designing product enclosures with minimal undercuts for easy molding in plastic injection processes.Employing snap-fit or clip-on mechanisms for easy assembly of product parts.
Using modular components that can be easily assembled and disassembled, reducing shipping and storage costs.Designing furniture with fewer complex joints and fasteners for more efficient production.
Designing aircraft components with tight tolerances to ensure precision and reliability.Using materials that are lightweight yet strong, such as carbon fiber composites, to reduce fuel consumption.
Incorporating surface mount technology (SMT) for components on printed circuit boards (PCBs) to streamline assembly.Designing PCB layouts with good thermal management to prevent overheating.
Build Your DFM Process with DISHER
DISHER takes a design-first approach to product development, engineering, and manufacturing. We help our clients by applying DFM to every product development project we work on saving valuable time and money.
We can support your team with DFM methodologies to help your business thrive. Do you need a cross-functional DFM team or just one expert to fill in a gap? Contract the specific skills you need. We make it easy to keep your projects on track. Tap into our design engineers, manufacturing engineers, project managers, and quality experts. We also can provide tooling and equipment specialists, automation consultants, machine designers, and data management specialists.
Since 2000, DISHER has partnered with hundreds of manufacturers. We can deliver Design for Manufacturing solutions that will increase your profitability and keep you ahead of the curve. Experience the DISHER difference with your next project.