March 11, 2021

Designing for Manufacture

What does DFM Mean?

A topical word often thrown around by Product Designers is ‘DMF’. Although not normally recognised by clients of design firms, it is one of the most important factors of product design, to get from point A to point B, design to manufacturing.

DFM stands for ‘Design for Manufacturing or manufacture’, which simply means engineering/designing a product in a way so it can easily be made. A lot of clients, who don’t have prior knowledge in the design/engineering field, usually don’t understand the importance of this design stage, and are often naïve in thinking that once you have 3D modelled the design it can easily just be sent off for production.

This is far from correct. What needs to be understood is that DFM allows for the making of a better product at a much lower cost.

Before tooling can begin, a design needs to be looked at holistically. Is this cheap to make? Is this easy to make? What processes am I wanting to use? What needs to be redesigned within the part or assembly for this process to adequately work? Will this design work with a certain material? And so on…

The manufacturing design process. Let's break it down...

1. Identifying the Process

To identify the manufacturing process for your product it must be chosen correctly. You wouldn’t want to go through the process of creating tools for Injection Moulding or Die casting if you are only willing to make 200 units. Here you will quickly lose out on cost and have zero margins for selling your product at the price you wanted to. In this scenario you would look to cheaper manufacturing processes like Thermomoulding. Once you have chosen the right process you need to revise the design.

2. Design

The actual design of your product needs to be looked at closely for any changes that need to be made to it so it can be manufactured in the desired process. For example if you have chosen to Injection mould your part, things like drafts need to be added so the part can easily come out of the tool as well as removing undercuts. Further if parts need to fit into one another in an assembly you will need to add in tolerances so there is enough clearance for parts to fit together.

3. Material

Next the correct material needs to be selected. If you are thinking of injection moulding you will have the option to choose from several plastics. You will need to consider what the product is being used for as some plastics can’t be used for food grade products, some plastics are stronger than others, and some are more resistant to heat and so on.

4. Cost

Once you’ve identified your Process, design and material you might realise “This cost to produce is above my intended budget”. At this stage you can go back to the design, try and limit parts or remove material to reduce overall costs if feasible.

DMF is a critical stage within the product design process, and without the right knowledge or expertise you might run into some roadblocks when trying to bring your product into production. Get in Contact with us today so we can help you start your journey to manufacturing your design.

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