The marketplace for product creators is extremely competitive. Nowadays, for product creators to design innovative and successful products they must ensure they are designed for manufacturability and assembly. Every product creator needs to minimise costs to achieve the margins they need to survive. This is where Design for Manufacturing (DFM) comes in. DFM is something every product creator must consider. Companies that have applied DFM have realised substantial benefits. This is because around 80% of manufacturing costs of a product (materials, processing and assembly) are determined by design decisions early in the development process. Production decisions such as process planning or machine tool selection, on the other hand, are only responsible for 20%.

What is Design for Manufacturing?

Design for manufacturing (sometimes known as design for manufacturability or DFM) is primarily concerned with decreasing part production cost to minimize the complexity of manufacturing operations. DFM is the general engineering practice of designing products in a way to ensure that the product is easy to manufacture. Design for Manufacturability can reduce many costs since products can be quickly assembled from fewer parts. Thus, products are easier to build and assemble, in less time, with better quality.

Design for manufacturing is also a way of thinking and should be carried out throughout the entire product development process. It is a way of designing and engineering a product in order to facilitate the manufacturing process to optimize your product for success. Early consideration of manufacturing issues shortens product development time, minimizes development cost, and ensures a smooth transition into production for a quick time to market.

Design for Manufacturing aims to:

Reduce material, overhead and labour cost
Shorten the product development cycle
Focus on standards to reduce cost

Key Principals in the DFM Process:

  • Select the correct materials and processes
  • Minimize part count
  • Standardize parts and materials
  • Design in workable tolerances
  • Create modular assemblies
  • Design for efficient joining
  • Design for testing & validation
  • Optimise part design to reduce unit cost
  • Optimise part design to reduce tooling cost
  • Control product cost and margin (BOM)
  • Minimize re-orientation of parts during assembly & processing
  • Simplify and reduce manufacturing operations
  • Create a quality test plan

DFM vs DFA

DFM is the method of design for ease of manufacturing of the collection of parts that will form the product after assembly. DFA is the method of design of the product for ease of assembly. DFA is a tool used to assist the design teams in the design of products that will transition to productions at a minimum cost, focusing on the number of parts, handling and ease of assembly.

Design for Manufacturing (DFM) and Design for Assembly (DFA) are commonly be referred to as a single methodology, Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA).

Differences
  • Design for Assembly (DFA) is concerned only with reducing product assembly cost and minimizing the number of assembly operations. Individual parts, however, tend to be more complex in design.
  • Design for Manufacturing (DFM) is concerned with reducing overall part production cost and minimizing the complexity of manufacturing operations. Uses common datum features and primary axes.
Similarities
  • Both seek to reduce material, overhead, and labor cost.
  • They both shorten the product development cycle time.
  • Both seek to utilize standards to reduce cost

The key to success is to adopt DFM early in the new product development process.

Design for Manufacturing may require additional effort early in the design process. However, adopting the DFM approach early will result in a more producible product to better meet customer needs, a quicker and smoother transition to manufacturing, and a lower total program/life cycle cost. In an increasingly competitive world, effective product design and customer service may be the ultimate way to distinguish a company’s capabilities. It will be the key to achieving and sustaining competitive advantage through the development of high quality, highly functional products that are effectively manufactured.

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Oliver McDermott

Oliver McDermott

Co-founder and Managing Director of Blender Design. He lives and breathes innovation and is passionate about using design to create products that make the world a better place.

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