What is Design For Manufacturing (DFM)?
Design for Manufacturing or Design for Manufacturability (DFM) is the optimisation of a part, product, or component’s design, to create it cheaper and more easily. DFM involves efficiently designing or engineering an object, generally during the product design stage, when it is easier and less expensive to do so, to reduce manufacturing costs. This allows a manufacturer to identify and prevent mistakes or discrepancies.
Principles of DFM
DFM occurs early in product development, before tooling and the assembly process, when the product is being designed. Doing so will make manufacture less time-consuming, which will reduce cost and increase ease of manufacturing. The exact process of DFM will depend on what product is being designed and produced. General principles of DFM include designing objects for efficient assembly, the standardisation of materials and components, reducing the number of parts, and minimising the amount of manufacturing operations required on parts during assembly. Other basics of effective DFM include standardisation of parts to save on part cost, design simplicity, which may reduce the complication or number of parts required, and setup time reduction.
What is Meant by Design for Manufacture?
Often, when this phrase is used it is referring to Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA), a more holistic term for an engineering methodology that intends to optimise time-to-market and limit manufacturing process production costs during early design phases. However, previously, this referred to two distinct practices, DFM and Design for Assembly (DFA). Design for Assembly prioritises the ease of the process of assembling an object, and is concerned with reducing the cost of the assembly process, whereas DFM has a wider focus on concepts such as the parts’ design, and so is able to also reduce the manufacturing cost of the parts themselves.
Why is Design for Manufacturing Important?
For any business looking to make money and create products that are profitable, DFM is vital for efficiency, speed, and high rates of production. It is thought that approximately 70% of the manufacturing costs of a product derive from design decisions made in the early design stages, such as materials used or method of manufacturing. DFM therefore has great cost-reduction capabilities. A focus on the design stage, available through DFM, would significantly reduce the final production cost. It can also enable the identification, quantification and elimination of waste or inefficiencies at various points throughout the manufacture and production process. It may additionally be used as a method of benchmarking and, in doing so, a company can assess the products of competitors.
- Products made with DFM will have a lower production cost
- Quicker time-to-market
- Shortening of the product development process
- Production will be up to speed sooner
- Parts may be combined to reduce assembly steps and quantity of parts
- Catches and removes mistakes or faults
- Higher quality of a product, as design can be refined and enhanced at every stage
- As construction activities can be removed from a site and placed elsewhere, DFM can create a safer working environment
How Long Does DFM Take?
Naturally, the time taken for any process will depend on the product, parts, manufacturing process, and the complexity of operations required. However, on average, a DFM process will take around two weeks to complete. This number may increase to three or even four weeks for more complex products.
Design for Manufacture Examples
- Components with joints can be manufactured using snap fits, an efficient form of fastening two parts together that saves time and money in production, reduces material costs, and improves ease of assembly – with additive manufacturing, the joint can be 3D printed for additional efficiency during production stages
- DFM can be used in casting, where it can enable the casting process and minimise casting defects by optimising the shape and geometry of products
- In a recent real-life case, DFM was applied to a design for a gun sight of an American tank developed by Texas Instruments Inc. which reduced the number of different parts needed for assembly from 24 to 8, and rapidly decreased the production time