DFM or design for manufacturing operations has to do with the process involved in the designing of products, components, or parts to ensure manufacturing operations come easy. The end goal is to have a better product and reduce manufacturing costs. You can achieve this by refining, optimizing, and simplifying your product design. At times, DFMA, which is also design for manufacturing and assembly process can be used interchangeably with the DFM.
There are five main principles you should examine when dealing with DFM. These include process, material, testing/compliance, design, and environment. Ideally, DFM needs to take place very early during the manufacturing design process, even before you start tooling. Furthermore, a DFM that is well executed will have to include the entire stakeholders, which include the contract manufacturer, designers, engineers, material supplier, and mold builder.
What is DFM?
The intention of the design for manufacturing method is challenging the design stage. It will check the design at all levels. These include the system, subsystem, holistic levels, and the component. This is to make sure of the optimization of the design and that no cost is embedded into it.
As there is a progress in the design through the lifecycle of the product, changes will be more expensive. Also, implementing it will be more difficult. With early DFM, it allows the quick execution of design changes, at a location that is least expensive.
The pulling together of stakeholders early during the design becomes easier when developing the new product. However, even if you are handling a product that is established, a very important element of a well and thorough DFM is challenging the initial design.
In many cases, errors in a specific design can be repeated when the previous design is replicated. Look into all aspects of the design.
- Check the initial or original drawings
- Next, tear the product down
- Check out near-neighbor and competitive products, as well as lead users like automotive and medical
- Speak with the contract manufacturer. He or she may have solved a similar issue with another customer
- Has this problem ever been solved in a different way by someone else?
- Anyway to make this better?
So much effort, time, and thoughts goes into a DFM.
There are different reasons why the use of design for manufacturing is very invaluable as far as today’s competitive market is concerned. Let’s consider how the design for manufacturing principles can help deliver efficient designs as well as additive manufacturing setup. Below are the things you can achieve with DFM.
- Building of a realistic cost model coupled with the objectives of the product
- Reduces issues related to manufacturability, ensuring the quick manufacturing of the product and to achieve this more economically.
- Creation of a good and efficient design which allows for potential changes in the design in the end or latter stages excluding the huge cost.
- Determination and elimination of design features that are not necessary, but only add to the cost.
- Drive down the bids of suppliers via the design modification making use of DFM principles.
What are the DFM Principles?
Here, we will be discussing the avenues that the designer has to focus on, during the creation of any DFM-friendly product.
When you optimize each of the areas, it will make sure that the entire product becomes the best vision possible. The five major areas of focus include product material, additive manufacturing processes, product design, compliance, and testing with different standards and service environment.
Making use of the right or best manufacturing processes plays a huge role in the product’s success. There are factors you need to look into, which includes the surface finish, volume, product material, cost, post-processing tolerances and needs to choose the best manufacturing process that suits the product.
Take for instance, the choice of injection modules for a product that should be manufactured in little volumes is not sustainable as a result of the large upfront overheads and investments. For cases like this, an individual may prefer thermoforming or additive manufacturing processes.
The processes make cheaper manufacturing possible with lesser or fewer parts instead of putting huge investments in tools and molds.
A company must complete the processes involved in manufacturing very quickly because the four factors left out depends on them.
Furthermore, for the right manufacturing process, the product design might suggest many options. You must analyze each choice making use of DFM principles to ensure optimum selection.
Also, the viability overall is useful as a determinant rather than as manufacturing cost. Also, it could happen that the manufacturing process features a lower cost of production in contrast to another. However, the total cost could rack up greatly all through the distribution.
Furthermore, another aspect which could affect the cost of the end product is the tolerances, which is usually assigned onto the product. In addition, specifying tolerances that are unnecessarily tight could raise production costs taking the form of additional machining time. Also, it may include the need to get a different and secondary machining process.
In some cases, the company could alter the process of manufacturing in order to work in line with certain specifications. In addition, the designers have to set the loosest possible tolerances when meeting the product’s fundamental requirement.
Design of the Product
Probably, this is one of the major factors having huge implications on the operation’s feasibility. With efficient designs, there will be a remarkable reduction in production costs, as well as lead times. At times, this may happen through minor modifications. Moreover, the opposite can happen and also hold true.
So many things may go wrong when designers don’t understand what manufacturing is; one reason why design for manufacturing tools are really needed by the designers in analyzing how their choices of design affects production.
Let’s take for instance, a plastic product, which has been designed with the help of different wall thicknesses. When you take a first glance at it, this may seem like it is a good or wise decision to reduce manufacturing costs and the costs of raw material wherever possible, so far there are no compromise difficulties present with plastic product manufacturing with different thickness, you’ll soon see that maintaining uniform thickness is much more feasible.
The Material of the Product
Engineers have to choose raw materials, the form, and grade very early during the process of developing the product. This selection is dependent on the product’s expectations.
Different aspects like surface finish, opacity, flammability, electrical/thermal resistance, machinability, and strength guides the engineers to have a better choice. As this material becomes harder, there is a reduction in the machinability. Furthermore, when picking the right model, the form and material grade may have a huge impact on the cost of the final part.
When we talk of the form, we refer to the size and shape of that raw material before taking it for machining. For instance, metals can become supplied as sheets, strips, bar stocks, and plates. Usually, you can make use of more than one form. However, there are differences in their properties and rates. For example, the cost of bar aluminum is just half that of the aluminum plate when referring to weight. Therefore, it is very important and necessary to evaluate and check how the preference of one form of raw material over the other will affect the true scheme of everything.
One important step to ensure that the DFM process is conducted effectively is by evaluating that particular service environment that aids in creating a very functional product that will cost low in production. A product meant to function in dusty areas cannot come with the same specifications as that designed to work under water.
Furthermore, DFM indicates seeking product quality coupled with the usual working conditions the product uses. You must consider the effect and intensity of the environmental factors like abrasives, moisture, salt, wind, snow, and rain during the DFM process.
In addition, it is necessary to know the difference between unrealistic and realistic expectations so as to reduce the costs of manufacturing. Products utilized in dry areas alone throughout it’s lifetime will not require marine-grade specifications.
Take for example, the 5083 aluminum (marine-grade) is very important for marine applications. This is because of its superior resistance properties , especially to corrosion. However, it will not be rational to utilize this grade in any environment having medium or low chance of corrosion.
When DFM is on, you consider the usual operating conditions alone in order to get rid of manufacturing costs that are unnecessary.
Compliance and Testing with Different Standards
While conducting design for manufacturing (DFM), the manufacturing engineers have to continue compliance and testing requirements. This should be kept in our minds in order to avoid issues later. Products manufactured at a fraction of the initial cost but fail to pass certifications won’t get to the market.
Different certifications and standards exist. These include 3rd-party standards, industry standards, as well as standards that have been set by a specific company to ensure high-quality products.
Furthermore, for a good number of products, the regulatory agencies can set these regular standards. To comply with these standards needs the manufacturer to possess the testing capabilities for each and everyone of them.
In addition, when working with design for manufacturing (DFM) procedures, you should test the design of the product for compliance even before you start mass production. If you wait till the end before developing the product can result in huge costs. Also, you may have to return this product to its design stage.
What are the Main Benefits of DFM?
Companies investing in DFM may find poor manufacturing and design decisions in the products, which could have been avoided with ease. Some of the main benefits of DFM include
- Quick time to the market
- Reduction in costs (increase in profits)
- Improvement in the quality of the product
- Streamlined product development process
- Smoother process of manufacturing
- Easy scale up of production
Quick time to the market
Most manufacturing and design issues are usually addressed during the beginning stages of your design. There will be fewer issues during the actual process of manufacturing. Also, it consumes less time. This ensures quick time to the market for the new product.
Reduction in costs
Design for manufacturability (DFM) can reduce costs of production significantly. This successful operation that is cost-effective can also improve profitability. It will achieve this by raising the ROI. Alternatively, these companies could transfer this low cost benefit to customers in competitive markets.
Improvement in the quality of the product
DFM makes sure that your product meets or works in line with the necessary quality standards that have been set in the design phase. It ensures that the tolerances, surface finish, performance, conformance, perceived quality, serviceability, durability, features, aesthetics, and reliability of the product matches the expected specifications.
Streamlined process for product design
DFM begins with having the big picture already in mind. This defines or explains the part’s manufacturing process, ease of distribution, component materials, final quality, design, etc. This leads to a production process that is well-managed and considers all aspects. Therefore, designing products with DFM helps in creating a solid plan for the product development process.
Smoother process of manufacturing
This is the main goal of DFM. Due to a proper and in-depth planning of the entire manufacturing process, contract manufacturers and/or manufacturing companies are usually clear on what they deliver. This leads to a very smooth setup for production.
Easy scale up of production
When there is an effective DFM process, this makes sure that when you are set to raise the production levels, you will easily scale up the manufacturing setup. Working with the guidelines ensures that you can source the components utilized for the assembly easily. Also, it ensures that the line of production can deliver an assembly process that comes with increased qualities and uninterrupted manufacturing.
By now, you should understand what design for manufacturability is. We have also explained its benefits. This is very necessary to ensure you come out with the best product possible.