In recent years Design for Manufacturing (DFM) has gained popularity as manufacturers around the world continue to compete, pushing the entire industry to pursue best practices and operate more efficiently. DFM is also closely related to the concept of Design for Assembly (DFA). Both DFM and DFA involve the integration of production process planning and product design.
For the month of July SigmaNEST has put together a series of guidelines you can apply when designing for you shop processes. Before discussing specific applications, let’s explore important best practices that surround DFM:
1. Reduce the Number of Components
The best way to keep manufacturing costs down is to reduce the number parts in a product. Using fewer parts requires less inventory, equipment and management. In all, fewer parts equate to a lower level of production complexity. A common way to reduce part count is to determine whether parts need to be made from different materials. One common time waster within the design process is using two or more materials within the same product without rhyme or reason. Some parts must be made out of different materials because the material type affects the products ability to function. Every time you switch from “material A” to “material B” it costs you time and ultimately money. Whenever possible try to reduce the number of materials used. The trend of one piece /material structures is helping manufacturers reduce cost and production time.
2. Design Using Modules
Utilizing modules in product design helps simplify all manufacturing activities including inspection, testing, assembly, purchasing and redesign. One benefit of a modular design can be seen when redesigning or updating a product. Modular design allows the use of standard sub-assemblies to minimize product variations, saving your shop time and money.
3. Design Parts to be Multi-Use
Within the same plant, there are numerous different products that could share components if they are designed for multi-use. To take advantage of this best practice, it is first necessary to identify the parts that are similar within your assemblies. For example, all the parts used in your shop (purchased or made) can be organized into two major groups: the first group containing all the parts that are rarely customized between products, the other containing parts tailored to customers’ specifications. The goal is to minimize the number of categories, the variations within the categories and the number of design features within each variation. As a result, you are left with a library of standard sub-assemblies that can be cross-referenced when generating new design concepts. After organizing all the parts into groups, the manufacturing processes can be standardized for each part family, allowing you to skip redundant designs that are not required.
Did these best practices make you think about your design process?
Stay tuned next week for tips on design for manufacturing using SOLIDWORKS.