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Why is Design for Manufacture Critical in the Electronic Product Development Cycle?

Modern electronics are subjected to a wide range of testing processes and evaluation techniques. The design for manufacture is one of such techniques. This article explains what it is all about.

What is Design for Manufacture?

Also abbreviated to DfM, it refers to the process of engineering and modifying electronic products in a way that they follow the laid-down guidelines.

According to Wikipedia, “DfM describes the process of designing and engineering a product in order to facilitate the manufacturing process in order to reduce its manufacturing costs.”

Basically, you can leverage the concept to ensure the quality of the product, while saving up on costs.

When to Implement Design for Manufacturability

Modular PCB Design
Modular PCB Design

The best time to use this technique is during the production stage of the electronic product. The following support this claim:

  • The early-stages of production are when potential loopholes are created in the product’s manufacturing process. Implementing the DfM process here helps to identify these issues in real-time.
  • Once the problems and design-related issues are realized, they can be fixed in the shortest time possible.
  • It is also possible to save costs with the DfM process steps. By identifying and fixing the design issues before final production; you get to save money on dismantling the coupled product for fixture and repair.

The Core Design for Manufacturing Product Areas

The DfM process can be used in different areas of the electronic product development. The popular ones are Integrated Circuits (ICs), Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) and CNC Machining process.

Here is a summary of how DfM can make a difference in the respective areas:

DfM for ICs

The DfM process steps are used in optimizing the performance of Integrated Circuits (ICs). The relevance here is due to the need to achieve high-yielding designs, despite the dominance of the VLSI technology.

Certain techniques are used to make the ICs “manufacturable.” The cardinal points here are the reliability, functional yield and parametric field of the circuits.

Here are some of the things you need to know about the DfM techniques for ICs:

  • The techniques are used to optimize the amount of redundancy in the IC’s internal memories.
  • A combination of routability, timing and power can be used to substitute the higher yield cells.
  • If permitted, the DfM techniques can be used to substitute the fault tolerant vias in a design.
  • These techniques also aid the IC’s resistant, by changing both the width and spacing of the interconnect wires.

Design for Manufacturability for PCBs

Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) also benefit from the DfM processes. Here, the design for manufacturing guidelines is used as parameters for adjudging the circuit board’s compliance with the design processes.

The following are some of the benefits in this regard:

  • DfM aids in PCB’s manufacturability.
  • It also aids in the cost-saving methods. For example, it can be used to support the automation of the component placement process, rather than the hand-processing methods.
  • Design for manufacturability supports the resolution of probable production problems for PCBs.

Design for Manufacturability for CNC Machining

The primary goal of DfM for the CNC Machining process is to reduce costs. The cost-saving mechanisms are driven by the following processes:

  • It reduces the setup time for the CNC machine set-up process.
  • The process also supports the minimization of the time spent removing (machining) the materials.

The Broader Design for Manufacturability Scope


Different approaches can be used to actualize the manufacturability compliance of electronics and other related products. There are three (3) broader perspectives to the DfM process steps.

Design for Assembly (DfA)

This is the design-centric measures taken to ensure that the product in view is assembled properly. At the same time, the DfA process ensures the cost-effectiveness and time-efficiency of the said product.

The goals of DfA include:

  • Simplifying the component assembling process.
  • It reduces the time spent on assembling these components.
  • Labor and costs are also saved in the process. It is possible because of the use of automated processes, which reduces human inputs and in extension, saves money.

Design for Manufacturability (DfM)

Also called the design for manufacture and DfM, it focuses on how best to optimize the product’s parts for the best results and to save costs.

Comparing DfA to DfM

Both Design for Assembly (DfA) and Design for Manufacturability (DfM) can be used for improving the efficiency and cost-savings of electronics.

However, they operate distinctly. Here are some of the differences between the two:

  • Design vs. Manufacturing: DfA focuses on improving the designs of the product, as a way of streamlining the component placement. On the other hand, DfM focuses on the designing and optimizing of the parts and assemblies to ensure they meet the manufacturability demands.
  • Reduction Areas: both processes deal with reduction. However, the scope of the reductions differs. For DfM, the reduction is for the number of manufacturing operations, as this helps to bolster the operational capabilities. On the other hand, the Design for Assembly (DfM) process supports the reduction of the numbers of the total numbers of parts used for the assembly.

Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA)

This refers to the combination of the Design for Manufacturability (DfMA) and Design for Assembly (DfA).

The DfMA process involves the following:

  • Process Merger: the design and production processes are merged in one package. This allows for the optimization of the product’s design, while supporting the merger of the design (DfA) requirements with the production (DfM) process.
  • Integrated Product Development: for better cost-savings and to improve the product’s reliability; a wide range of product development processes can be utilized.

Design for Environment (DfE)

As a holistic approach to product development, Design for Environment (DfE) has to do with the following:

  • The reduction of the environmental impacts of the product. The best results towards this regarded are derived from the reduction of the recyclability, consumption and pollution tendencies.
  • DfE goes on as long as the product is in use. Unlike the DfA and DfM processes that end after the product’s assembly and production; DfE runs throughout the product’s lifecycle. It starts from the raw material extraction process to the end-of-life phase of the product.

How to Develop the Best Product with the Design for Manufacture Principles

wire connector manufacturer

Certain principles must be followed to get the best results from the DfM processes. We will help you create DfM-friendly electronic products that follow these principles.

1. Select the Appropriate Manufacturing Process

The right manufacturing pathway makes the product’s development easier. In the selection of the manufacturing process, you want to consider the following:

  • It is possible to use a cost-effective, yet efficient and faster variant to the product’s development.
  • The overall viability of the chosen manufacturing process must also be considered. This comes in handy for the balancing of the costs with the performance. For example, the ideal production process shouldn’t offer only low costs for the production and stack-up during the product’s distribution.

The following parameters should help you choose the best manufacturing process for the product:

  • The post-processing needs.
  • The types of materials used.
  • Overall cost of manufacturing the product.
  • Surface finish
  • Volume: how many units of the product are to be manufactured?
  • Tolerances: the choice is to decide between the loosest and tightest tolerances. Mention must be made that the costs can add up quickly for the tighter tolerances, due to the need for secondary machining processes and the need for additional machining time. On the other hand, loose tolerances bolster easy production, cut down on the number of possible defects and reduce the design for manufacture tool costs.

2. The Product Design

How the product is designed before the actual development also impacts the design for manufacturability processes. The goal is to make the design compliant with the manufacturing principles.

Due to the complexity, the challenges and the need to make the product very design-to-manufacture-compliant; it is better off using the design for manufacture tools. These tools help to provide real-time info on the design’s effects on the product’s development.

Here are some of the additional details you need to know about the product design:

  • It is always necessary to juxtapose the thickness of the material before choosing one.
  • The best materials should always be used.

3. Choose the Appropriate Material

The material used for the design is as important as what the outcome would be. When making the material selection, prioritize the properties of the material, which align with what the product is all about.

The two major considerations here are the form and the overall properties of the material. For the form, the following are considered:

  • The form refers to the material’s size and shape before the machining process.
  • The product can use a variety of form, but it is important to compare the performance of one of the forms over the other.

For the material’s properties, the following are considered:

  • Flammability: this refers to the material’s exposure to burns and flames. How resistant is it to fire?
  • Mechanical Properties: this has to do with the material’s strength. However, note that certain materials might suffer reduced machinability when they become harder.
  • Electrical Properties: this lets you into the material’s acting capabilities. If it is to act as a dielectric, it means that it would be an insulator instead of a conductor.
  • Color: this has to do with the color of the material.
  • Optical Properties: this helps you determine whether the material will be transparent or reflective.
  • Thermal Properties: the material needs to have heat-dissipating capabilities. The thermal properties let you know the extent of the material’s heat resistance.

4. Exposure to the Service Environment

One of the DfM process steps is to be certain of the material’s compliance with the service environment. The properties of the product differ, based on the environment where it is subjected to.

These are a few tips on how to choose the best service environment for the product:

  • Functionality: the product should be able to function to its full capacity in the environment it is used. For example, electronic products optimized for marine applications might not operate optimally in dusty areas. The goal is to maintain a product quality that functions optimally under the normal operating conditions.
  • Environment’s Intensity: the effects and intensities of the target environment also plays a role in the product’s performance. The following factors influence the intensity: abrasives, rain, moisture, snow and salt.

5. Standardized Testing and Compliance

The testing and compliance expectations must also be met, as they form a part of the basis for the product’s streamlined entry into the targeted market.

The following are some of the different standards to be fulfilled:

  • Internal Standards: these are the standards set by the company and are aimed at ensuring the product’s quality before it is shipped.
  • Industry Standards: these are the prevailing standards and requirements that guide the development of electronic products.
  • Third-Party Standards: this covers the standards set by the third-parties, including the regulatory agencies.

The compliance of the product to the existing standards is one way to look at it. You also want to test the product to validate the compliance before shipping. Here are some ideas on how to make the most out of it:

  • Pre-Mass Production Testing: always test the product during the design phase. This helps to prevent hiccups discovered after the entire production process is over. Testing as you design helps you to identify and fix design issues on time.
  • Vary the Test Methods: endeavor to use a variety of testing methods for the process. You may want to consider the non-destructive testing method that allows for the test equipment’s continued functionality even after the testing is completed.

Conclusion: What Does Design for Manufacture Mean?

Design for Manufacturability (DfM) is all about the designing and assembly of electronic parts, as a way of ensuring the flexibility of the manufacturing process. The benefits include a significant production cost reduction, shorter time-to-market, increased ROI, smoother manufacturing process and improvements in the product’s quality.

You need to work with a DfM specialist who is good at streamlining the product development process, minimizes assembly direction, maximizes your budget and creates a modular design. RayPCB will help you do all that. Contact us today!




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