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DFM Tools: Picking Proper DFL (Design for Manufacture) Tools for your Design

Before your product gets past the process of design and into the manufacturing process, the DFM standards have to be met. This is why the DFM tools are very important to ensure that the design of the product works in line with DFM requirements.

This also holds for PCB fabrication, whereby the design of the board must work in line with the design rules in order to reduce manufacturing failures. In this topic, we will be analyzing the DFM tools as well as their principles. Let’s begin.

What Does DFM Mean?

Design for manufacturability can be described as an engineering practice utilized for designing products in such a unique way that makes their production easy and at the lowest price possible. Also, with DFM, you will be able to fix possible errors like alignment issues during the design stage. This is because it is at this stage that you can address these issues at a lower cost.

If this isn’t done, the product could have both reliability and performance problems all through its life cycle. Also, note that every process in manufacturing comes with its design rules. Explaining further, a process of additive manufacturing – 3D printing, features different guidelines for design compared to CNC machines, which is just a subtractive process of manufacturing.

Therefore following the design guidelines for individual manufacturing processes when designing the components of products is important. Also, with PCBs, you can monitor the thickness of the board, minimum diameter of the via hole, surface finish, as well as the minimum trace width. Asides from reducing possible errors and unit price, DFm can help reduce the turnaround time.

What are the Principles of DFM?

DFM Tools
DFM Tools

Design for manufacturability is composed of five main principles.


The process of manufacturing you have chosen must be suitable for the product. Also, during the consideration of the process, the DFM has to consider some factors, which includes required tolerance, surface complexity, etc.


This DFM principle is most critical. This is because it allows users to customize a product, thereby giving it a layout that is optimized which reduces costs of manufacturing, faults, as well as turnaround time. Reach out to your manufacturer regarding the design of the product. This ensures that it works with the most appropriate processes of manufacturing.


With DFM, you are required to choose the material with respect to properties such as thermal resistance, color, flammability, mechanical strength, electrical conductivity, etc. You should also take note of the cost of the material.


This product has to withstand the intended function and operating environment without issues.


Finally, this product has to meet the necessary safety and quality standards that could be industry-specific, internal company, as well as third party standards.

What Do DFM Tools Mean?

While the rules for PCB clearance were defined easily in past times, the present DFM rules are dependent on different factors like hole diameter/spacing, trace width, etc. All these factors would help in creating many design rule checks which the PCB design software has to monitor

Therefore you have to set up these applications for CAD design to check the rules. This makes them the first DFM tools needed in the process of PCB production. Besides this PCB design software, different DFM tools present in the marketplace can tell which layers of the board have production issues. Most times, these tools feature a checklist that ensures a comprehensive analysis of the design layout of the PCB.

Also, DFM tools help in handling multiple checks so as to enhance the design manufacturability. Since you may not know whatever the processes your fabricator has used in making the PCB, it is advisable that the manufacturer handles the DFM check and then give you a report for your DFM.

Use Valor to Achieve Error-free Designs

Valor, which is well-known by MNCs, offers a great solution for PCB manufacturing.PCB forms the heart of all embedded systems and electronics hardware. Valor is an easy and seamless all in one tool. This tool helps reduce errors, ensuring that teams involved in the design as well as manufacturing don’t waste cost, labor, and time in detecting faults and rectifying them.

Once completed, the design will be checked utilizing Valor or other similar tools. Furthermore, companies such as Cisco have ensured the compulsory use of this tool because of its ability to produce complex PCBs up to 24 layers.

Valor features a checklist. These include checking of boards on PCB assembly, by each layer, which includes  pattern check and signal checks on-component basi, Gerber files, component counts, PCB impedance, copper pads, copper layers, through-hole pads and drill check.

Asides from these, a PCB’s quality check can be checked with respect to the application, and routing, thickness, punching, stencil paste, and stencil check is also considered. After this test, Valor will then differentiate between cold and hot points. These hot points will first be rectified, then tye cold points follow.

Also, Valor can handle calculations. A screen printing machine manufacturer should know the precise amount of solder paste applied on these stencils. Normally, the rate of transmission has to be at least 70%. Depending on the project’s size, it takes Value between 24 – 48 hours for calculation. Similarly, for other processes, there are some calculations required.

Users of Valor have to convert ERP or SAP, PCAD or CAD files, as well as other circuit board designs files and simulation files into the ODB++ format that is readable for valor.

Other Important DFM Tools


A tool, referred to as Apriori, offers a unique platform that allows manufacturers to be able to manage the cost of their products all through the development and manufacturing stages.

This begins from the stage of design and then to the manufacturing stage. This DFM tool is focused on the way the cost of the project would be feasible and allow quick iterations with respect to the changing market, availability, and cost.

Project Tracker

There’s another tool, project tracker that updates the tracking of different activities, events, assignments linked to the project. This assists the managers of the project in consistent execution of the project, improved utilization of resources, reduction in resource gaps, as well as operational frequency.

Also, it helps to facilitate decision-making and communication, allowing you to manage your project efficiently as well as deliver quickly. This makes the entire process budget-friendly and hassle-free.

Newly-created DFM tools like Cost-Out Analysis, Fast Works, as well as Should Cost Analysis works well for purchase and sourcing and are utilized by some top electronics conglomerates in America.

Monitoring the Cost During the Design Stage with Fast Works


Fast Works

An industry professional revealed that Fast Works functions well for developing new products inside a particular company. This allows you to get close to a customer, increase the chances of succeeding, and hasten the marketing as well as getting things done easily.

Most times, companies make use of Fast Work to cost during the development of new products, and then the launching of prototypes in a market place follows. This methodology has a stage whereby the team work is defined. This focuses on the weak points of the customer, thereby giving solutions as well as documenting the entire process.

Cost Saviors While Running a Product

Should Cost Analysis

This sets a proper benchmark for any cost negotiation. With this tool, designers will be able to get some clarity of the vendor’s pricing. This ensures that informed decisions are made with respect to the components’ cost.

This assists designers in reducing costs during the stage of design. SAP and Apriori are two significant tools used for the Should Cost Analysis. This analysis covers serviceability, price, customer satisfaction, quality, and technology.

For any product, companies utilize either Cost-Out Analysis or Should Cost Analysis. After this analysis, a designer might advise the customer to embark on a different project or give ideas for added features to the product. With this, you can manage design for manufacturing from its initial stage to the final stage

You might feel these tools are very important for a DFM’s success; however, this isn’t the case. Industry experts have revealed that tools such as Apriori, Valor, Project Tracker, and SAP are very important, some of them could be demanding and need rigorous training and a huge investment. Not every small-scale startup or manufacturing unit can purchase these. However, 3rd-party testing should always be an alternative.

An alternative here is a DFM rulebook which could be manufactured by experienced manufacturers and designers, which design engineers can use.


In summary, the DFM really touches on the part of the customer (because of product designs) as well as the part of the manufacturer (because of the manufacturing process). This is why the manufacturing and design teams must communicate constantly so as to refine the DFM guidelines. All you need to do is visit our contact page and then drop your details, which includes your Gerber files. We will contact you as soon as possible to discuss possible DFM problems that may arise.




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