Design for manufacturing (DFM) as the definition suggests, makes the parts manufacturable. It is a process of high importance in many manufacturing industries, including plastic injection molding. Since design influences each step of production, including costs, timing and even customer experience, DFM implementation results in a significant cost decrease while maintaining the quality of the product and manufacturing simplicity. DFM processes include the following steps: analysis, design and material selection, testing.
Benefits of DFM
DFM yields many benefits for manufacturers and customers. Products are made at lower cost with higher quality and improved performance. They are more easily produced, tested, inspected, and arrive in the market much faster, especially when rapid injection molding is incorporated as well. Since they have fewer parts, they are more reliable and easier to service and maintain. Companies using DFM typically have lower capital equipment costs because machinery is used more efficiently.
• Overall production costs reduction
• Quicker time-to-market
• Shorter product development and production processes
• DFM may simplify the final assembly if parts are combined
• Higher quality of a product, as mistakes may be detected and corrected at every stage of production
Around 70% of the manufacturing costs of a product are applied from design decisions like materials and manufacturing method. The remaining 30% of the costs make up production decisions like process planning and tool selection. Thus, high concentration on design for manufacturing processes optimization is a step to take to minimize overall manufacturing expenses.
Main rules to optimize DFM processes
Minimize the number of components
There is always a probability of defects or assembly errors occurring for every part manufactured. Thus, the more components, the lower chance to produce the flawless result. However, not only does the chance of failure increase, but also fabrication costs and the level of complexity.
Design for Ease of Fabrication
A designer must set constraints regarding producing (material, volume, etc.) requirements and make sure to detect and correct all the violations before fabrication processes start.
Opt for design modularity
Modular design, an approach of dividing parts into modules so they could be processed separately (which makes customization easier), is gaining more and more popularity among different industries since it provides flexibility in terms of time of product development as well as cost optimization.
Produce multifunctional components
Multifunctionality is a feature that benefits industries in many ways: cost reduction, time efficiency, increase in productivity and waste minimization. The same applies to multi-functional components designing which allows to use the same part for many purposes and sometimes even many products which highly optimizes (and minimizes) the total number of parts.
Choose standard parts when possible
Undoubtedly, custom-made items are always more expensive and less available than standard components. Therefore, opting for standardization may save costs and decrease the lead time. Moreover, characteristics of the latter products and reliability indicators are usually defined in more detail.
Apply a downward assembly direction
While adding up parts vertically, gravity supports assembly processes and make them the most efficient. However, if downward assembly is impossible, single direction must still be remained during the whole process in any way.
Use even fasteners
In case of the need for the use of fasteners, the standard constraints should always be applicable. The fasteners must be even in their types and sizes.
More information on design for manufacturing and its applicability for micro injection molding may be found here.