What is DFM?

Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFM or DFMA) optimizes the industrial design specifications of your product based on its manufacturing and assembly operations. Combining product design requirements with assembly and manufacturing processes reduces costs while enhancing product quality. Using DFM production methods is vital to product development and makes parts easier to produce.

By optimizing design, DFM offers significant advantages throughout the assembly and manufacturing stages. The process considers multiple complex design elements and offers the most efficient method of producing a product to meet specific application requirements.

Adhering to design specifications when using DFM allows manufacturers the flexibility to create products that not only adhere to industry standards but also withstand the environments they will be subjected to. DFM also offers lower manufacturing costs, shorter product development cycles, improved product quality, and a shorter time to market. These benefits help create industrial products that are easier to scale for efficient manufacturing and assembly.

Here you’ll learn more about DFM and the advantages it can offer your production process.

Principles of DFM

When implementing DFM, consider these four main principles:

When determining the right DFM process, it is essential to factor in the following:

  • Required quantity of parts
  • Type of material(s)
  • Surface complexity
  • Required tolerances
  • Need for secondary processes

There are more risks involved when a product design has more complex elements. A simple design is typically a better option in terms of cost, use, maintenance, and manufacturing requirements. Every design should adhere to basic manufacturing principles and include the following details:

  • Desired thickness
  • Tolerance specifications
  • Texture
  • Consistency requirements

Talk to your contract manufacturer about design specifications. They can ensure your design conforms to the recommended principles for the chosen manufacturing process.

All products must be designed to operate in their intended application. This means being able to withstand the application’s normal environmental conditions, such as specific temperatures, pressures, chemical exposure, or UV exposure.

Products must be tested to comply with industry standards, third-party standards, and internal company-specific standards relating to quality and safety.

Advantages of DFM

About 70% of a product’s manufacturing costs come from decisions made during the design stage, including material and process selection. The other 30% is incurred when deciding on tools and process planning. Therefore, by optimizing product design, DFM can significantly reduce the total cost of production.

Here are some other benefits of DFM.About 70% of a product’s manufacturing costs come from decisions made during the design stage, including material and process selection. The other 30% is incurred when deciding on tools and process planning. Therefore, by optimizing product design, DFM can significantly reduce the total cost of production.

Here are some other benefits of DFM.

Lower Manufacturing Costs

Evidence of the developing tech world includes the growth of smart devices, shortening product life cycles, and dynamic consumer needs. While an indicator of economic growth, these rapid changes pose challenges for manufacturers, who are increasingly struggling to keep up with complex supply chains while maintaining competitive pricing and compliance with strict industry standards.

As industrial products become more complex, DFM allows manufacturing companies to design high-quality products that meet required safety and quality standards with a much faster turnaround, leading to lower manufacturing costs overall.

Shorter Product Development Cycles

DFM is useful for shortening product development cycles by helping manufacturers identify and eliminate design flaws. They can avoid issues like costly product design changes that occur later in the production cycle. By deciding on every design specification early on, DFM can shorten product development cycles and lower costs.

Improved Product Quality

Quality standards established in the design phase can be easily met using DFM tactics. Manufacturing companies can make sure the following factors of the product match the desired specifications:

  • Aesthetics
  • Conformance
  • Durability
  • Features
  • Perceived quality
  • Performance
  • Reliability
  • Serviceability
  • Surface finish
  • Tolerances

Shorter Time to Market

If most design and manufacturing concerns are addressed early on in the design process, issues are less likely to appear during the manufacturing process. DFM makes manufacturing less time-consuming, improving the time to market for new products.

Easier to Scale

When manufacturing companies want to increase production levels, DFM makes it easy to scale up a manufacturing setup. Following DFM guidelines ensures components are easily sourced and production capabilities can increase output uninterrupted.

Examples of DFM

Benefits Of Custom Manufacturing

Selecting the optimal design for a given manufacturing process saves cost and plays a vital role in the efficiency of the entire production cycle. For example, injection molding may subject finished plastics to breakage if they are ejected via shear. Implementing DFM best practices helps manufacturers avoid this issue by using strategically placed ejection pins instead.

DFM works best when implemented early in the design stage, which is the best time to make changes and manufacturability analyses. It can be difficult and extremely costly to make design changes later on in the manufacturing process, especially when tooling changes are required.

Performing a thorough DFM evaluation of the design and identifying any flaws in manufacturing operations will reveal the necessary areas for improvement. Designers and manufacturing specialists should work together to clearly define waste in the process and offer suggestions for more efficient alternatives.

Another example of the effectiveness of DFM is for designing components that have joints. These parts can be made with snap fits, an efficient method of connecting two parts and offering the following advantages:

  • Saving time and money during production
  • Lowering material costs
  • Improving ease of assembly

When using additive manufacturing, the joint can be 3D printed for improved efficiency throughout the production stage.

DFM is also beneficial in the casting process, minimizing possible defects by optimizing the geometry and shape of the part.

In a recent example, Texas Instruments, Inc. used DFM to design a gun sight for an American military tank. The DFM method helped reduce the number of individual parts in the assembly from 24 to eight, significantly decreasing production time.

Design for Manufacturing by Source International

Founded in 1988, Source International provides low-cost sustainable manufacturing outsourcing to businesses throughout North America. We are a U.S.-owned company with offices and manufacturing partners in Vietnam and China. Rigorous operating procedures set us apart from the competition and allow us to provide award-winning supply chain solutions for a wide variety of industries.

Source International has extensive DFM expertise and works with a dedicated network of contract manufacturing facilities, handling a vast array of products, materials, industries, and manufacturing processes.

We match our customers with qualified factory partners that provide plastic injection molding, sheet metal fabrication, CNC machining, aluminum extrusion, metal forging, gear hobbing, and other services. Our Supply Information System (SIS) cloud platform gives customers 24/7 end-to-end visibility of their supply chain while protecting their intellectual property and personal information.

To learn more about our capabilities, request a quote, or schedule a call, contact us today.