Design for Manufacturing, or Design for Manufacturability (DFM), is the process of designing parts for ease of manufacturing as well as creating a better, more cost-effective product. DFM is a vital product-development step that looks to simplify and optimize the design to ensure high quality and efficiency during fabrication. The goal of DFM is to reduce manufacturing costs and avoid costly disruptions without sacrificing quality or performance.
DFM saves OEMs significant time and money. Companies are often in a rush to get a new part fabricated so it is tempting to shorten – or even skip – the DFM process. However, it is important to keep in mind that changes to the design become exponentially more expensive and time-consuming to implement as the product advances through the life-cycle. A thorough DFM upfront will allow optimizations to be made or issues to be resolved before the changes significantly impact the project timeline or budget.
The design for manufacturing process is especially crucial for heavy fabrications as these projects are typically large or oversized structures that are very heavy. Successful heavy fabrication projects must be designed from the beginning to be manufacturable. The DFM process should occur early in the design phase and often involves engage key parties such as designers, fabricators, raw material suppliers, OEMs, and other stakeholders – with the goal being to tap into the experience of each of these experts.
Several aspects of the design will be considered during the DFM process: part geometry, location and shape of critical surfaces, size, and among others. Additionally, the DFM process should consider material selection, dimensions, thickness, radii, surface finishes, and the selection of critical dimensions as all of these factors impact manufacturability. Additionally, the DFM process often includes computer simulations so the team can fully visualize the final product. Oftentimes, this step yields additional insights and optimizations that would have been lost if the DFM process was not performed – resulting in a more functional and manufacturable product.