Design for Manufacturability Research Paper Starter

Design for Manufacturability

(Research Starters)

Design for manufacturability (DFM) is the concept of creating a product that can be consistently manufactured without problems, at minimal cost. This article outlines the benefits of DFM; summarizes the features of available DFM technologies; notes how specific companies are incorporating DFM into their manufacturing processes; and provides a glossary of relevant DFM terms. Although products may be manufactured from raw materials by hand or by machine, this article focuses on manufacturing by machine.

Keywords Additive Manufacturing (AM) Technologies; Computer-aided Design (CAD); Computer-aided Engineering (CAE); Concurrent Engineering; Global Vehicle Architecture; Design for Manufacturability (DFM); Poka-yoke; Product Lifestyle Management (PLM)



The manufacturability of a product refers to characteristics that make the product suitable for reproduction (manufacture), usually on a large-scale basis.

Manufacturability is dependent upon two conditions:

  • The ability to consistently manufacture a reliable product without problems
  • The ability to manufacture the product at minimal cost
  • Design for Manufacturability (DFM)

    When the two conditions for manufacturability — the ability to manufacture a reliable product without problems, and at minimal cost — are given foremost consideration during the design cycle of a product, the concept is known as design for manufacturability (DFM), also known as design for manufacture.

    The principle behind DFM is to create the ability to economically manufacture a reliable product into its initial design rather than to fix problems later in the manufacturing process. This principle expands the idea of "do it right the first time" into "do it right the first time, but as inexpensively as possible."

    DFM generally relies upon standardization practices; it incorporates manufacturing processes that use standard parts, reduce the number of parts, and minimize handling during production. However, the most sophisticated DFM strategies allow for a range of product customization. (Examples of customization of DFM practices are cited in "AM Technologies — Applications" in the "Applications/Further Insights" section of this article and in "Case Study — General Motors (GM) — Reaching for the Market and Cost Saving Benefits of DFM by Adopting Global Vehicle Architecture Practices" in the "Further Insights" section.)

    DFM practices may result in both direct cost savings and indirect cost benefits for the manufacturer.

    Direct cost savings for the manufacturer using DFM practices may result from:

    • Eliminating the extra materials and labor needed to correct mistakes
    • Reducing the overhead associated with extra materials and labor
    • Minimizing wear and tear on machinery
    • Shortening the development and manufacturing cycles, thus hastening time-to-market of the product
    • Lowering the number of product returns

    Indirect cost benefits for the manufacturer using DFM practices may result from:

    • Lowering employee turnover due to higher satisfaction with output
    • Improving customer satisfaction due to offering a more reliable and economical product
    • Gaining industry status as a manufacturer of reliable, economically-priced products

    Since manufacturers' success and profits usually rely upon producing reliable products at the lowest possible cost and in the shortest possible timeframe, the concept of DFM is an attractive one.

    Depending upon the product or manufacturing process, DFM may incorporate one or more of the following solutions:

    • Additive Manufacturing (AM) Technologies (also known as "rapid prototyping")
    • Computer-aided Design (CAD)
    • Computer-aided Engineering (CAE)
    • Computer-aided Manufacturing (CAM)
    • Concurrent Engineering
    • Poka-yoke
    • Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)


    This section outlines the important features of specific DFM solutions and notes how certain companies are applying some of these technologies to their manufacturing processes. DFM solutions generally involve computer technology. In addition, many of the computer technology solutions are used in combination, leading to such common practices and acronyms as CAD/CAE and CAD/CAM.)

    The following DFM solutions, along with specific company applications, are summarized:

    • Additive Manufacturing (AM) Technologies
    • Computer-aided Design (CAD) and Computer-aided Engineering (CAE)
    • Computer-aided Manufacturing (CAM)
    • Concurrent Engineering
    • Poka-yoke
    • Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

    Additive Manufacturing (AM) Technologies

    Additive Manufacturing (AM) Technologies, also known as "rapid prototyping," allow a manufacturer to fabricate customizable parts of any shape from complex materials. (Rapid prototyping refers to quicker-than-average production of models for the purpose of working out problems.) Because of its intent to tackle the manufacturing issues involving the complexities of shape and materials, AM technologies have the potential to move beyond providing cost-cutting benefits to actually achieving new, higher manufacturing capabilities (Rosen, 2007).

    Rosen (2007) explains that hearing aid manufacturers Siemens, Phonak, and Widex, are making hearing aid shells with AM machines that enable custom manufacturing of thousands of parts, and Align Technology is using AM to produce clear braces. In contrast, Rosen mentions how Boeing uses AM technology to produce rapid prototypes for fighter jet parts that are intended for low volume manufacturing.

    Computer-Aided Design (CAD)

    Computer-aided design (CAD) is routinely used by designers to produce digital drawings and designs. In manufacturing, digitally-stored CAD designs are often the basis for computer-aided engineering (CAE), which is the analysis of a product's structural integrity and performance.

    Proctor & Gamble employs CAD/CAE to develop virtual prototypes of products; evaluate their suitability and effectiveness; and determine their ability to be manufactured economically. For example, through CAE, Proctor & Gamble is able to ensure two important features of their products:

  • Reliability of the products' containers: The containers won't break or crack if dropped, the lids won't leak, and the products will flow properly from their containers.
  • Performance of the products: The products function as intended during consumer use for persons with a range of human physical characteristics (Dodgson, 2006).
  • Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM)

    Computer-aided Manufacturing (CAM) uses computer technology to control the manufacturing process.

    Longhorn Machine Inc. is a Houston-based company that manufactures small quantities of large, complex parts for offshore drilling and oil servicing customers. The parts are very expensive to build and specifications are so precise, that deviations of more than a few ten-thousandths of an inch are unacceptable to customers. In addition, the parts must be delivered according to a rigid schedule so that customers don't lose money waiting for the parts. To meet these strict requirements and maintain a profit, Longhorn needs to make the parts correctly on the first try. In 2005, Longhorn replaced their older CAD system with a software package called EdgeCAM, which allows two programmers to run all their machines. As a result, programming time dropped from 250 hours per job to 10 hours ("Using CAM," 2007).

    Concurrent Engineering

    Concurrent Engineering is a method of product or process design that includes simultaneous input from everybody with a stake or role, including engineers, salespersons, support personnel, vendors, and customers, throughout the entire design...

(The entire section is 3964 words.)