Design for manufacturability, also known as design for manufacturing (or DFM in short), is the engineering practice of designing products in a way that they are easy to manufacture. This general engineering practice exists in most engineering disciplines, of course implementation of DFM differs per manufacturing method.

What is design for manufacturability?

Design for manufacturability describes the process of designing or engineering a product in order to make sure the manufacturing process reduces manufacturing costs and increases manufacturability of the parts. Also, DFM allows for potential problems to be fixed during the design phase, instead of having to fix these costly problems later on.

Factors that affect manufacturability include:

  • Used raw material
  • Form of the raw material
  • Dimensional tolerances
  • Required post-processing (e.g. finishing)

There are many manufacturing processes and thus effective DFM is dependent upon different analyses for different products, including the used type of material or used machines.

Design for Manufacturability definition

In short, design for manufacturability is the general best practice for engineering and designing products to optimize their ease of manufacturing and reducing manufacturing costs.

Applications of design for manufacturability

Applications of DFM are numerous and are as varied as the different production processes. As such we will examine some high-level examples of design for manufacturing tasks:

  • Compare design alternatives to determine which is the least expensive and the most convenient for manufacturing.
  • Examining why a design is getting higher bids from supply chain partners than expected.
  • Identify product design features that will unnecessarily require additional manufacturing operations.
  • Prevent manufacturing issues in the later stages of the product design lifecycle.
  • Ensure a timely product rollout without hiccups.

Benefits of DFM

You want to make sure no manufacturing issues are still present when a product has already gone to production. With the right design for manufacturability tools this is possible. These can help identify issues during the product design process, which is a huge benefit in lower risks for product development.

Some of the best DFM tools will not only warn about manufacturability issues, they will also give recommendations on how to solve the issues. Luckily, in most cases a simple change in design can resolve the manufacturing issue.

Companies that design products themselves and outsource manufacturing can really benefit from DFM in order to speed up product development timelines and reduce time to market. Engineers no longer have to wait on feedback on manufacturability, they can analyze manufacturability in-house.

Examples of design for manufacturability

Let’s take a look at two examples of DFM for different manufacturing technologies.

Design for manufacturing for CNC machining

For CNC machining the cost is driven by time. The goal is thus that the design must minimize the required time to machine (e.g. remove material), but also reduce set-up time of the machine itself and programming the machine.

Design for additive manufacturing

Whereas CNC machining removes material, it is added with an additive manufacturing process. DFM best practices for additive manufacturing include speeding up post-processing, reducing or removing the need for temporary support structures and material selection.

How to design an optic for manufacturing?

Let’s take a deep dive into manufacturability of optics. We specialize in rapid prototyping and series production of custom optics, more about that in a bit.

The first step into DFM for optical design is to understand how a misaligned lens or too broad tolerance can impact the performance of an optical system. You could tighten the tolerances, but this is cost-expensive and luckily most optical systems do have some room for tolerances. The key is finding out the right balance. Optical design software, like Zemax, can help with this.

Let’s take a look at some steps to improve manufacturability of your optic designs.

Conduct a ray trace

In order to assess manufacturability of your optics design trace sequential (and non-sequential) rays through the entire optical system. This will give a better overview of stray light and scattering. This analysis can really help before moving on to physical prototyping.

Using prototypes: physical and virtual

Besides physical prototyping you can also use virtual prototyping. In this way an optic is not tested in isolation, but in an entire optical system. Virtual prototypes also include mechanical housing, so you can thoroughly analyze out-of-field rejections, if enough stray light is blocked and much more. Having a virtual prototype is a DFM best practice for optics design (check out Zemax Virtual Prototyping).

Addoptics, rapid prototyping and series production of optics

We specialize in manufacturing custom optics within the shortest amount of time possible. We can manufacture and ship most custom optics within a couple of working days. This will help you get your products to market faster and beat your competition.

Benefits of our prototyping and manufacturing technology:

  • Full design freedom
  • Industry-grade materials
  • Cost-effective prototyping for ready to use prototypes
  • Tangible design and product testing
  • Risk reduction for optics series production
  • Minimized investment in tooling

If you want to experience more design freedom in your optics design process, have shorter lead times, reduced risk and minimize investment in tooling, we urge you to contact us. We are looking forward to hearing about your latest project!

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