What is Design for Manufacturing? In a modern manufacturing environment, engineers and designers provide novel and innovative products designs in order to satisfy a demand for finished goods. These products are usually complex in nature with many interlocking parts and subassemblies. In order to provide cost effective design solutions for creating these products, engineers and designers should follow a set of design criteria often referred to as “design for manufacturing.”
Design for Manufacturing is the practice of creating products with a particular focus on ensuring that the manufacturing process minimizes complex assemblies and difficult-to-machine parts. This practice may incorporate techniques such as Lean, Six Sigma, and 5S. By minimizing expensive design practices, the overall product cost may be driven down. Furthermore, by avoiding complex design practices, the overall effort to assemble each product may similarly be driven down.
Another advantage of Design for Manufacturing is a more durable design. For example, in additive manufacturing, some forms of 3d printing perform poorly when certain requirements are placed upon them. Whenever performing extrusion printing, rasterized wall thickness must be carefully considered when making complex curving shapes. Not following the wall thickness guideline for each material and extrusion method may result in additive manufactured products which are either unstable or cannot meet tolerance requirements.
In addition to reducing manufacturing flow times, part manufacturing costs, and improving overall product durability, maintenance costs may also be reduced with the inclusion of more simple assemblies. This is due to the maintenance technician having to disassemble fewer parts of the assembly in order to reach the required part. An example of this could be moving a gear box from deep inside of a machine to a more user serviceable area in order to prevent the technician from having to disconnect piping in order to open the gear box cover in order to lubricate a planetary gear set for a yearly maintenance item.
Design for Manufacturing techniques should generally be incorporated wherever possible in the design process. Early incorporation of DFM can drastically reduce costs as up to 70% of manufacturing costs are incurred in the initial phase of product design according to some studies. By eliminating wasteful design decisions in the earlier parts of the product development lifecycle, future complications may be completely eliminated before they manifest.
Ultimately, Design for Manufacturing can be thought of as a cost elimination and flow time reduction technique. Through incorporation of special design criteria, product costs can be reduced while simultaneously reducing non-value added labor. As a design team grows in experience using Design for Manufacturing, products will continue to become more innovative without a subsequent proportional rise in manufacturing complexity.