Design for Manufacturing (DFM) is an engineering framework that optimizes the manufacturing process via design alterations to a product in the early stages of production.
What is DFM?
Design for Manufacturing (DFM) is an engineering framework that optimizes the manufacturing process via design alterations to a product in the early stages of production. Ultimately DFM aligns the product design with cost-effective, efficient manufacturing methods. When done correctly, DFM is a preventative measure, limiting errors and allowing for changes to be made early in the process. Specifically, DFM should occur once the product has been prototyped and the design has been established. It is cost-prohibitive if completed later in the process, so it is imperative to use proper timing.
DFM is gaining popularity among manufacturing engineers, mainly because it is one of the easiest ways to mitigate costs and save money throughout the production life cycle. Using DFM has become more common as mass production and globalization prove to be enduring trends in today’s marketplace. Moreover, it provides four key advantages.
1. Lower Production Costs: The majority of production costs are dependent on the decisions made about how the product will be manufactured. These are settled early in the process, remaining increasingly difficult to change at later stages in production. Spending time to review and implement DFM framework in the early design stages is the most effective way to save on production costs.
2. Improved Throughput: In addition to lower production costs, aligning manufacturing processes with product design will optimize efficiency.
3. Simplicity in Design: DFM methodology encourages simple designs. For instance, assembly steps can be lessened through the combination of parts—simple designs created through this framework work to enhance production and throughput.
4. Better Quality: Identifying critical features and establishing tolerances help ensure that the process is capable to meet these specifications with a 1.33 or greater Cpk. Capability studies can be conducted at the PPAP or IOPQ qualification protocols.
Getting Started with DFM
1. Take a Step Back.
Conduct a holistic review of your current manufacturing design process. Lay out each step in the process. Take note of the desired result and end goal. Highlighting these factors is the first step when assessing your project.
2. Look for Areas of Improvement. Identify areas where materials could be saved, enhanced linear motion could be incorporated, or product reorientation could be eliminated. Question how altering product design could lead to more efficient production, or work with Helix Linear Technologies (or your manufacturing partner) to determine what new technology could be implemented in the manufacturing process.
3. Conduct a Competitor Analysis. Every unique product will generate its individual challenges and unique solutions. Look to competitors and industry leads for new and innovative ways to design and manufacture your product. Additionally, look for shortcomings in their processes that could be used to your advantage.
4. Partner with Helix. Our team of specialized applications engineers can work with your team to optimize your next project during the design phase, meeting DFM requirements.