East West Manufacturing Blog

5 Factors That Affect Design for Manufacturability (DFM) [VIDEO]

Written by Patty Rasmussen | July 27, 2017

You say potato, I say po-tah-to...

Whether you call it Design for Manufacturing, Design for Manufacturability or DFM — and we've called it all three — the goal is the same: How do you design a part so that it's easy to produce at the lowest possible price without diminishing quality or functionality?  

Take a look at this short video featuring Jeff Tadin, Senior Project Engineer at East West, for a rundown of five factors that affect DFM:


Look: Your goal is to have your part/product made to the highest quality standards at low cost. Our goal is to help you do that, hence our commitment to a good DFM analysis. In product design, simple wins the day every time.

Compare early cell phones to today's sleek smart phones.

Anytime you add additional parts, movements, finishes, materials, you're increasing the chances that something will break or go wrong. As Jeff said, the goal of DFM is to reduce manufacturing costs without reducing performance, and that includes breakage and wear. 

In addition to the five factors that affect DFM from Jeff, here are more principles of design for manufacturing and design for assembly to keep in mind: 

Minimize part count

Reducing the number of parts in a product is the quickest way to reduce cost because you are reducing the amount of material required, the amount of engineering, production, labor, all the way down to shipping costs.

Standardize parts and materials

Personalization and customization are expensive and time-consuming. Using quality standardized parts can shorten time to production as such parts are typically available and you can be more certain of their consistency. 

Material is based on the planned use of the product and it's function. Consider:

  • How should it feel? Hard? Soft?
  • Does it need to withstand pressure?
  • Will your part or product need to conduct heat, electricity? 

Create modular assemblies

Using non-customized modules/modular assemblies in your design allows you to modify the product without losing its overall functionality. A simple example is a basic automobile that allows you to add in extras by putting in a modular upgrade.

Design for efficient joining

Can the parts interlock or clip together? Look for ways to join parts without the use of screws, fasteners or adhesives. If you must use fasteners, here are a few tips:

  • Keep the number, size and variation of fasteners to a minimum
  • Use standard fasteners as much as possible.
  • Use self-tapping and chamfered screws for better placement.
  • Stay away from screws that are too long or too short, separate washers, tapped holes, round heads and flatheads.

Minimize reorientation of parts during assembly and/or machining

Parts should be designed so that a minimum of manual interaction is necessary during production and assembly.

Streamline the number of manufacturing operations/processes

The more complex the process of making your product, is the more variables for error are introduced. Remember what Jeff said: All processes have limitations and capabilities. Only include those operations that are essential to the function of the design.

Define ‘acceptable’ surface finishes 

Unless it must be trade show grade, go with function rather than flashy for your surface finish.

It's been said that 80 percent of your product development cost is tied up in the design, especially at the early stage. If that's the case, you want to be sure you're expending that cost to create the very best possible product for your customers. DFM is one way your contract manufacturer can make goal that a reality. 

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