So, you have launched your startup and are entering the production process. During this time you might hear the term DFM thrown around a lot and it can be embarrassing to ask what it is, especially when all of the industry professionals are throwing it around like it’s the most commonly used term in the world. That’s what we are here for at Rad Sourcing, to simplify the complex process that can be setting up your manufacturing. So, what does DFM stand for? It stands for Design for Manufacturing which is the process of designing your product with the goal of making manufacturing easy and efficient. This is obviously valuable to any company but especially to startups who have to make every dollar count.
What is DFM
DFM is an essential manufacturing tooling design and process development step that you have to take before producing a new product. You should make sure you take an active role in it, especially when you are working with manufacturers abroad. When DFM is done correctly it can assure both quality and productivity in your manufacturing. This is done by optimizing all of the manufacturing functions including: fabrication, assembly, test, procurement, shipping, delivery, service, and repair. Furthermore, it functions by assuring the best cost, quality, reliability, regulatory compliance, safety, time-to-market, and customer satisfaction. This is done by ensuring that the new product is designed to work as efficiently with the manufacturing processes already in place. In the event that new processes are utilized, then the product and the process should be developed concurrently. Considering DFM at the start of your product development cycle is a great idea because it decreases the amount of redesign work, speeds up your time to market, and improves product quality. This makes scaling from prototype to production will be a lot easier if you think about DFM from the start. Most startups consider where they want their product manufactured based on price. For example, Chinese manufacturers are very commonly employed because of the low labor cost there, so make sure the design of your product keeps costs down as well.
The Basics of Effective DFM
Roughly 70% of the manufacturing costs of a product derive from design designs for emape the materials and the manufacturing method that is employed. The other 30% come from production decisions like tool selection and process planning. Employing effective DFM reduces both of these costs but how do we do it? First of all, standardization is absolutely key! Simply put, It cuts costs by reducing the amount of materials and parts you will need to produce your product. Some ways you can do this are: Design parts that serve multiple functions within your product or are shared between product lines. Make sure your product designs are modular to simplify product changes or redesigns. Use standard components instead of a custom-made ones whenever you can.
Another essential component of DFM is design simplicity which help cuts down lead time and costs. This is done by using multi-functional parts to minimize assembly steps and components. When possible use quick securing methods like snap fits other fastening techniques like bolting or glueing take longer to secure. Also, take advantage of 3D printing to quickly test your improved designs, if you are able to. Alignment and compliance are also very important when it comes to effective DFM. When there are errors in your alignment parts and equipment can end up being damaged, which can reduce efficiency or even cause your assembly line to temporarily shut down. Alter your designs to take into account misalignment, tolerance stackup, and slop.
DFM can also reduce your lead and setup time by minimizing the amount of operations required per part, or simplifying assembly with workflow improvements. You can do this by: Reducing the number of setups or rotations required per part or assembly or by upgrading your line with better tools and work stations.
To successfully set up your Design for Manufacturing you need good communication not only at the top but with the people on the factory floor as well. They often can help you improve your design by explaining any issues in the production process that they experience first hand. Make sure that your components are optimized for their manufacturing process and simplify your process as much as possible. When choosing what materials to use think about; What properties does your part require, how many cycles will it last, are there any other specific requirements? The final component you need to consider is your infrastructure, do your best to ensure that your entire production workflow is optimized in your manufacturing facility.