Why DFM/DFA is Business Critical

DFM/DFA Training
Manufacturing Engineering & Design

DFM/DFA is ultimately about designing a part, assembly or process to be more cost effective, better quality, and meeting schedule requirements. Utilizing proven DFM practices will ensure quality, reduce delivery lead-times and provide a reduction in the product cost. In this day of overbearing global competition where cost, quality and speed to market are the key to a successful product and organization, we often fall victim to simple mistakes that are costly to our organization and our customers that could have been easily corrected during the design phase.

The following are the major cost drivers for new product development:


  • Product scope, intent and complexity (specifications)
  • Time to market requirements
  • Market costing requirements
  • Product competitive environment
  • Organization infrastructure
  • Design, engineering and manufacturing tools
  • Staff experience and training
  • Quantity of end-item product (low, medium or high volume)
  • Organization Culture (To DFM/DFMA or not is the question!)


Design for Manufacturing (DFM): 

Designing a component, part or a process utilizing practices that will improve fit, form, function and the ability to manufacture at cost and schedule. This becomes quite relevant when producing high volume or parts that require multiple and/or progressive manufacturing steps and associated tooling. In low volume environments DFM helps to reduce non-reoccurring engineering (NRE) and gets the product closer to the final deliverable version sooner and with less prototype, change notice documentation and manufacturing effort.  Also, over-toleranced (tight) parts and complex or challenging to manufacture geometries can eliminated helping to reduce cost and schedule (read: people hours).

Design for Assembly (DFA):

Designing and managing a system of parts or end-item assembly where the processes and steps required are as cost effective and lean ;as possible. This could include designs that consider and integrate tooling, assembly methods, test-ability, procurement, maintainability and other critical items into the components, processes and product system/assembly. Other common definitions:

  • Designing for target capability or capacity
  • Designing for affordable rapid response
  • The DFA activity may also involve designing system components (sub assemblies) and manufacturing steps with an eye on reducing complexity and unnecessary steps to produce the end-item.

DFM/DFA Subgroups:

  • Management (program, project) for manufacturability
  • Design for machining
  • Design for sheetmetal
  • Design for moldability
  • Design for weldability
  • etc.

Notes about DFM/DFMA:

  • There is not a "one size for all" or one approach to DFM/DFMA within industry verticals or organizations. Volume, end-item costing, competitive business environment, industry, end-item complexity, product scope are just a few of the variables that may change the formula for an organizations DFM/DFA utilization.
  • DFM/DFA is also about business culture and practices. Designing the perfect part and assembly is an ultimate goal, however a design through manufacturing business environment that fails to execute optimally can be much more costly.
  • DFA is generally more cost effective than DFM (individual parts) in high volume applications though low volume end-items can and do benefit.
  • All design activities should minimize or eliminate as many individual parts as possible.
  • An often overlooked issue during product design is the performance of the manufacturing system at all levels, from supply chain to production line. The performance of these systems is disregarded or not considered because it is considered hard to model and designers don't know much about the manufacturing system.
  • Design should be the "first" manufacturing step or consideration
  • Identify product concepts that are easier or less expensive to manufacture

Benefits of DFM/DFA

  • Lower end-product costs
  • Reduced development costs (NRE)
  • Smoother transition to production manufacturing
  • Reduced part count
  • Simplified Assemblies
  • Higher Quality
  • Shorter design and development cycle
  • Greater product and process reliability
  • Lower service and maintenance costs
  • Reduction in manufacturing lead time - fewer schedules slips
  •  Ability to use common parts - economies of scale
  • Faster prototype and/or first article
  • Reduced errors in fabrication and assembly resulting in fewer engineering change notices
  • More suppliers capable of producing outsourced components and assemblies
  • Improved vertical or industry competitiveness

Additional Benefits

  • Improved design-manufacturing communication (concurrent engineering)
  • Promotes teamwork
  • Improved ownership throughout organization

Written by:  Kelly Bramble - Engineers Edge, LLC, www.engineersedge.com

For DFM DFA training information --> DFM DFA DFMA Training

Reference and training book --> Engineering Design for Manufacturing


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