Why is DFM the most helpful for Invention and New Product Development?
DFM is Design for Manufacturability, or Design for Manufacturing.
Understanding the manufacturing processes from the very beginning of Design Development saves huge amounts of dollars and greatly reduces wasted time.
Lack of DFM at the beginning:
Too many new products have to be redesigned and re-engineered because DFM was neglected early on. Designing something stunning and innovative by itself is folly if it cannot be made that way, or has to be modified, or started over.
If the designers and engineers understand fabrication, manufacturing, production tooling and molding processes, as well as custom fixtures usage and assembly line efficiencies, they will truly do the best overall work for you. Understanding manufacturing processes takes time and real hands-on experience, across industries. It is not really something you can read about in a book or take a class to learn.
Important DFM Factors:
Imagine a product that will be mass produced at high volumes of say, high hundreds of thousands of units per year, versus the same product that will be manufactured for a host of reasons, in the low thousands of units per year.
Different manufacturing processes could be used and the product would be designed and engineered along those lines. Similar yes, but many details would be unique.
What if a product needed to be a certain low price to be marketable, in order to be successful? Tradeoffs discussions about quality and premium aspects would ensue, but if price was the overriding factor, then the design development focus and the associated manufacturing options would be different.
The Cool Design Dilemma
Of course breakthrough design and innovative mechanical design and engineering solutions to make things work uniquely and appear amazing is important. The dilemma is that most people and companies do not have budgets like Apple, Google, Samsung and Ferrari.$ 25 million for research, $250 million to “design explore”. These companies can even invent new manufacturing processes and capital invest in new plant and equipment to make their new design ideas viable.
Trust us…In very few cases Design is Everything.
Most new products have to be made in an existing system of manufacturing and production, with tight budgets, cost targets, and efficiency goals.
Listen for DFM
The next time an experienced engineer says that part does not have any draft on it, or the wall thicknesses are way too thick, or it would have been better to make that differently, or that big part should be in 2 parts, or that it won’t come out of a mold….ever…or that part should be stamped vs. CNC’d….or that part could have been 50% less expensive….that’s DFM talking!
What is the best way to design and manufacture this idea/concept? What are the pros and cons?
Is every part and piece of this design engineered to be manufacturable?
If a part or mechanism works better, but costs more to make, what should you do?
Which manufacturing process has the least errors and defects?
Which manufacturing process is the least expensive and most expensive, and why?
What is acceptable quality (to the buyer) and why?