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WHAT DOES DFM (DESIGN FOR MANUFACTURABILITY) REALLY MEAN?

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Design for manufacturability (DFM) is considered the most universal DFx methodology for the development of new products. The main reason is that DFM has direct implications on the costs derived from manufacturing the product.

Of course, the manufacturing costs have a close and direct relationship with the financial success of the new product, together with the quality of such product.

That said, we can also define the design for manufacturability as the method focused on reducing the costs without sacrificing the quality of the product. This is achieved by integrating different aspects during the new product development process.

But, what does it take to make sure that the DFM is applied successfully?

First of all, it is necessary to have access to different types of information, such as:

  • Sketches, drawings, product specifications and design alternatives.
  • Details on the available manufacturing processes and assemblies.
  • Estimated manufacturing costs, production volumes and market times and special requirements.

As you can see, to obtain the information mentioned before, it is necessary to have a product development team integrated by a multidisciplinary group of people, including individuals from different areas, for example:

  • Engineering
  • Finances
  • Production
  • Design
  • Marketing
  • Others

From the integration of these individuals, and based on the vision, values and final objectives of the company regarding the new product being developed, some design principles and guidelines are to be considered on the design for manufacturability. Here are some examples:

  • Minimizing the number of components: this helps reducing the assembly costs, eases the maintenance activities, eases the manufacturing automation, among other advantages.
  • Design to make parts manufacturing easier: this means it will allow using net shapes manufacturing processes, and it will avoid rough surface finishes that may require additional processes.
  • Forming parts and products to ease packaging: this will ensure the part or the product is compatible with automated packaging equipment, make delivery to clients easier and allow the use of standard packaging materials.

Of course, there will be more possible factors that will define the focus of the DFM, but in general terms, all of them have the same end reducing costs while keeping the quality, depending on how the DFM decisions will impact the entire organization.

To better understand this, here's a step by step example of the entire process:

  1. Product A has to be developed.
  2. A design is proposed.
  3. Estimation of manufacturing costs.
  4. One DFM decision is made, meaning one of these approaches are taken: Reduction of component costs, reduction of assembly costs or reduction of production costs.
  5. The impacts of the decisions are assessed. For example, impact on the quality, impact on the environment, impact on logistics, etc.
  6. The manufacturing costs are re-estimated. If the costs are acceptable, the design is acceptable. If not, go back to step 4.

This is a general overview of the process. If you want to learn the details of how to actually implement DFM during the design process, the best way is to learn directly from professionals.

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