Design for Manufacturing

What is Design for Manufacturing?

The term “Design for Manufacturability” (DFM) is widely used and relates to a series of decisions during the development process to aid in the ease of assembly for a given product. These DFM decisions or guidelines include the reduction in the number of components and fasteners used in an assembly, clever ways to use a single part to satisfy multiple functions, and optimizing materials selection and fabrication methods. At DCI, our offering and business model is to support customers through the development process and into volume production at our sister company and contract manufacturing organization, Columbia Tech (CT). Due to the nature of our offering, DFM practices are ingrained in the standard operations at DCI and are not just a catch phrase as DCI designs are constantly scrutinized when transitioned into new product introduction (NPI) at CT to be produced in volume.

Initial Development

During the initial phase of development at DCI, which includes the feasibility of meeting functional requirements, cost of goods sold (COGS), development costs and time frame considerations, trade-offs must be discussed with customers regarding DFM considerations. Component level solutions versus designs from scratch can have an effect on DFM options and COGS. For example, if time to market constraints force a decision to use an “off-the-shelf” component solution for a portion of the design, it can limit the options for integration into the product and may now be considered a replaceable unit forcing the engineer to locate the component in an accessible location that may not be ideal. A custom design typically provides more DFM options and flexibility for reduced COGS and allows the engineer more freedom to incorporate DFM practices during the development. The downside of a “from scratch” custom design is a higher development cost and typically a longer time frame to complete, however, an upside can be a significant COGS savings as volumes increase. There is a place for component level “off-the-shelf”” solutions, and they can often times be the best solution when the component has been standardized, is leveraged across multiple industries and manufactured at high volumes. A failure analysis at the design level to determine the likely serviceable components and potential failure modes can help guide the decision to eliminate a component from the design or determine if access for service is likely. DCI performs failure analysis services on a regular basis.

Best Design for Manufacturing Practices

The key to obtaining the best results of Design for Manufacturability practices and customer market goals begins with the choice of partnering with a company that will engage in an open dialog and understands what it takes to meet the objectives. DCI has positioned itself to lead the industry with what we call “Advanced Product Introduction” (API) which is the combination of a finely tuned development process, DFM practices, building and testing prototypes combined with proper documentation needed to transition a product cleanly into volume production. DCI’s API methodology benefits our customer base by providing speed and certainty through the development process assuring the results match the true needs of the customer’s requirements into production. If a true collaboration can be attained where trade-offs are understood at the design level, decisions are made in real time and implications are understood, iterations can be reduced allowing product plans to be realized meeting cost and time to market considerations.

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