Design for Manufacturing (DFM) is a process that helps optimize your board, translating the concept into a design that is ready for large-scale production.
This critical step can save you on overall production costs — and not to mention headaches— by identifying inefficiencies and potential challenges you may not discover during prototyping. For example, you may have only needed to source a small amount of a certain precious metal to create your prototype. But, what happens when you multiply that amount by thousands, or hundreds of thousands? Will you be able to source that product easily? Will it be cost-effective? Can you purchase it locally or will it be shipped from overseas? Each of these questions presents a possible challenge later down the road. DFM can help identify these roadblocks in advance and present solutions that will make the manufacturing process as simple and streamlined as possible. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four of the top benefits of DFM.
During DFM, engineers review your board through the lens of large-volume production. Their goal is to identify potential snags and obstacles that will slow down the process and reduce the overall number of “touches” needed during production. This could be simplifying a complex design, eliminating the need for a hand-placed element or proposing a modified joint connection. With large-scale production, repeatability is key. Standardizing elements of the design helps with this aspect and allows for a more seamless transition to production.
2. Cost Savings
Once the design is simplified, the hours required to complete each unit decreases. This allows you to save on labor costs in the long run. DFM engineers also look for costly and hard-to-source components, materials and parts. This may include rare or outdated parts, materials that are in high demand or used by a major competitor, or components that would require additional time to finetune or hand place. The goal is not only to identify which components may have high costs, but to find cost-effective alternatives for each one.
3. Quality Control
Quality control happens on the macro and micro levels during DFM. As mentioned above, engineers are reviewing for big-picture challenges that will impact the logistics of sourcing and production. However, they are also reviewing for smaller, but equally important, errors such as misalignment in your design and even typos or inconsistencies in your Bill of Materials (BOM).
4. Shorter Production Time
The simpler a design is, the faster it can move through production. Not only are there fewer likely obstacles to hold up production or cause downtime, but the process itself will be streamlined. Ultimately, incorporating DFM in the product development process allows you to bring your product to market more quickly.
Many large companies have in-house DFM engineers, dedicated to reviewing board designs early in the product development process to ensure efficiency when it comes to manufacturing. As a full-service electronics contract manufacturing (ECM) provider, Alert Tech SMT has experienced DFM engineers on our team. We believe this is an essential step in setting your project up for success at all stages of development — from design to production. If you’re ready to scale up your production, let’s talk. Our team is on deck and ready to help.