Design for Manufacturing (DFM): Solving High Costs

Design for Manufacturing (DFM) offers guidelines for improving the manufacturing process to make a good product with less cost. Achieving this involves optimizing and streamlining product design. Basically, it involves all the strategies that are needed to manufacture a product, from the initial idea to the assembling of parts. 

Most of the costs of manufacturing a product (labor, materials etc.) are related to the original design. As the decisions that go into the design of a product affect its costs, it makes sense to design a product with built-in cost-effectiveness. 

Global Six Sigma offers Six Sigma certification and helps companies to make processes more efficient, cut costs, eliminate waste and increase customer satisfaction. Peter Peterka, an expert in Lean Six Sigma, advises keeping it simple when designing a product, from its directions to its use. 

The following Design for Manufacturability guidelines can help designers to reduce the costs and difficulty of manufacturing an item. Creating a timeline can be difficult because it depends on the complexity of a product and quality requirements. 

It is important to have every detail verified and confirmed and this can take some time. Eliminating potential mistakes and making a product cost-effective from the start could save plenty of time and money in the long run. 

The rules for DFM

Reduce the total number of parts. Reduction in parts makes inventory, handling, processing time and many other aspects of manufacture easier and less expensive. The trick is to minimize parts without losing quality or value. 

Use components. When you use components, you can easily take them apart for an inspection and then re-assemble them. When it comes to updating a product, redesigning is easier when using components. A modular design is easier to test, update, redesign etc. 

Use standard components. Custom-made components are expensive to replace. High availability of standard components reduces product lead times and reliability is well ascertained. 

Multi-functional parts. Multi-functional parts keep costs down because you can reduce the total number of parts in your product. For example, a part could be a structural member and a heat-dissipating element. 

Design parts for multi-use. If components have the same use for different products or different use for different products, this can simplify the manufacturing process. 

Minimize assembly directions. All parts should be assembled from one direction. If possible, the best way to add parts is from above, in a vertical direction, so the effects of gravity help the assembly process. 

Design for ease of fabrication. Minimize overall manufacturing cost by selecting the optimum combination between material and the fabrication process. Commonly found problems that result in higher than necessary production costs involve excessive tolerance or surface-finishing requirements. 

Maximize compliance. Due to variation in the dimension of parts, it is important to consider compliance in part design and assembly as errors can easily occur and cause damage to parts and equipment. A simple solution is to use high-quality parts with built-in design compliance. 

Minimize handling. Use symmetrical parts where possible to make orientation easier when positioning or fixing a part or component. If this is not possible, exaggerating the asymmetry and using external guiding features can help with the orientation of a part to avoid failures. 

When designing a product, it is important to try and minimize the flow of parts, material waste, and so on, in the manufacturing process. Use a minimalist approach and you can reduce the costs and the difficulties involved. If you do this well, you can be assured of both productivity and quality.