What is Design for Manufacturability?

I’m sure logically you could figure out what Design for Manufacturability means in a broad sense, but what does it really mean for you and your product? Design for Manufacturability, or DFM for short, is where Design meets Production. The DFM process takes a design and produces a final design that can be manufactured properly, and at the desired cost. This step is often skipped by those developing their first product, and ends up costing more time and money than it should to correct DFM issues later down the line. We’ll go over some of what DFM does for your product and why it is a very key component to developing a great product.
Manufacturability – This is the first step in DFM. An engineer or designer takes a design, and then through both tools and experience, reviews the design to ensure the product can be manufactured as efficiently and effectively as possible. Draft angles for injection molded parts, machinable areas for CNC, stacking tolerances, fit checks, and many more items are part of this DFM check-list.
Costing – This is where things can get interesting, such as actually increasing part count, decreasing reusable parts, etc may be required to put a product into a certain price window. Costing looks at every cost of a product, from hardware selections, country of production, materials, and how each part needs to be made. A Sourcing Agent, read more here, when used, is closely tied into this part of the process, and works with the designer through this process.
Part Count – How many parts does it take to make your product? I’ve worked on products ranging from just one into the thousands. Part count is a balancing act, sometimes you can make 4 parts into 1, but the cost would be 10 times greater. Part count is an easy way to estimate product complexity, assembly costs, et. Usually more is more expensive, and so a lot of work can be done to decrease the part count, make assembly easier and take less time.
Reuse and Replacement – For those businesses who are sustainably minded, which every business should be, designing a product for reuse is something that happens in the DFM stage. Which components can be reused, which need to be replaced, even what parts can be recycled or not are also influence in the DFM process.
Material and Finish – DFM also looks at what materials and finishes are used in a product. Sometimes a material might be chosen that doesn’t work well with a certain manufacturing process, or is extra expensive. Changing a material, or finish can change the perceived quality, actual quality, and the cost of a product drastically. Lead time is also influenced by finishes as they add extra time to production.
Lead Time – Lead time of a product determines how quickly a business can turn its manufacturing investment into a profit. If it takes 10 weeks to produce a product, that means a business is going to wait at least 10 weeks before it gets paid. Decreasing lead time also falls within the DFM process. Shorter lead times means quicker product turnaround, as well as usually less cost. Through selecting processes, materials, and finishes, the DFM process can save businesses from having long costly lead times on their products.
At the Peterman Design Firm, we provide DFM to our clients to ensure our clients have products that are manufacturable and cost effective. These points cover just the basics of what goes into full DFM. Your product should go through this process, it’ll save you time and money in the long run to do it right the first time.

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