Design for Manufacturing & Assembly

blog, Product Development

You’ve spent months – years, even – designing, prototyping, and refining your product. You’ve begun the process of transferring your design to a manufacturer for production. But you can’t find a manufacturer who can recreate your design’s unique features. Or maybe you’ve found one who can get the job done, but it will cost ten times what you can afford. Suddenly, the probability of realizing your product is looking less and less likely.

You can avoid this scenario by implementing the core principles of Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA) as early as possible in the product development process. Here are a few of Goddard’s best practices to integrate DFMA into your design timeline.

Design for manufacturing and assembly (DFMA) is a set of principles that centers around designing components, products, and/or systems for ease of manufacture and assembly. By prioritizing the eventual manufacturing and assembly methods early in a product’s design process, product developers can ensure that the end result is an effective, manufacturable solution.

Practicing DFMA enables product developers to make the leap from having an interesting product idea to a product that can be made at scale.


So when should developers begin considering design for manufacturing and assembly in the product development cycle?

It’s important to establish a viable path forward as soon as possible – so the sooner you ground your design in reality, the better.

Phase One of the product development process is where your team will want to begin DFMA work, as you begin investigating the design of your product. In Phase Two, your product’s designs move from the proof-of-concept stage to Alpha prototypes to evaluate how core functions of the product line up with a selected form factor. This is also a good time to consider manufacturing and assembly, that way you’re not scrambling to make design changes when the design is more solidified in later phases. 

This work should be completed before you begin formal verification & validation testing, where your team is evaluating the product’s selected design against initial design inputs. V&V testing includes assessing your product’s intended manufacturing and assembly processes.


Learn More: Download our guide to Verification and Validation Testing


What’s the risk of ignoring DFMA work? 

Perhaps the biggest risk of ignoring design for manufacturing and assembly is that you might be designing features that can’t be made. You might discover that while the features can be made, they’re too expensive or they have a high scrap rate. And by the time you learn that the features you’ve designed can’t be made within your targeted budget (or can’t be made at all), it will cost you time and money to go back to the drawing board. 

It’s also critical that you know, as early as possible, what equipment you’ll need to make and assemble your product so that you can consider lead times and production processes. If you don’t have a clear picture of how your product will be made and assembled, you could make it through your design process only to discover that a piece of equipment or a part to manufacture or assemble the product is back-logged for weeks. 


How does Goddard practice DFMA?

Goddard’s team of product development experts are skilled at DFMA and we’ve gleaned a number of key learnings from our experiences over the years. Here are some of our top tips:

  • Engage all stakeholders when you’re developing design inputs – including manufacturing and assembly engineers
  • Get relevant suppliers (especially your contract manufacturing partner) involved as early as possible so that you’re all in the loop regarding lead times and capabilities
  • Take risk reduction seriously – tolerances, Process Failure Mode and Effects Analyses (PFMAs), and lifecycle evaluation are all a part of making sure that your final product is designed and manufactured with quality. 


Working with Goddard

Design is interdisciplinary and when it’s done in a silo, you could end up creating something that never has a chance of seeing the light of day because it can’t be made. Luckily, Goddard’s team of experienced designers and engineers is skilled at integrating DFMA into the product development process, ensuring that the products we create are functional and manufacturable. 

Goddard’s reliable developers can help guide you through the product development process or plug into existing projects as needed. 

If you’re looking for a skillful partner to help get your next project started, check out some of our Featured Projects or dive into Our Process to learn more about how we approach product development.


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