DFM – Design For Manufacturing means fully integrating manufacturing considerations in the design process. Manufacturing equipment & practices vary greatly from factory to factory, especially if that factory is in another country. It is very important to involve the factory as early as possible, to prevent expensive re-design cycles delaying the New Product Introduction process.


Read the 9 Key Principles of DFM, see the preview below

The DFM concept is applied throughout all of the product development process stages but implementation varies widely.


Design for Manufacturing is abbreviated as DFM and sometimes also referred to as Design for Manufacturability, all three terms refer to the same concept, design something that is easy to manufacture in the most cost-effective way.


Reduce Manufacturing Costs with DFM


The ultimate goal of DFM is to manufacture products at a lower cost, without jeopardizing product quality and keeping all basic design requirements intact.


The manufacturing cost of a project will vary greatly based on its complexity, the design process, the assembly process, manufacturing technology used, material cost, the level of quality control desired, whether the factory floor has the necessary tools or custom tooling is required is another factor.


manufacturing operations


For all the reasons mentioned above, plus other factors, it’s not possible to come up with a DFM process that will work for any product you want to manufacture in any given quantities.


We haven’t even talked about manufacturing methods and other product technicalities like assembly fixtures, snap fits, tapped holes, the various tolerances that will be applied, how many assembly steps are necessary, mechanical properties, etc.


They’re all key factors when trying to reduce cost.


If you’re an engineer and you’re going deep into DFM here’s a guide that will help you achieve that design simplicity you’re after.


How to DFM Electronics – Design Guidelines


The way to reduce cost is by tackling each and one of the factors that affect design for manufacturing in your project, it’s all very circumstantial.


However, there are some basic factors to keep in mind when doing DFM.




1- Product Complexity


The more complicated the product is, the more mechanical and electronic parts will be needed, this increases the production difficulty.


2- Product Variants


Do you need one production line or two? Allow me to explain.


Smartphones; every time Samsung Or Apple comes out with a new series of phones they have 2 or 3 tiers; this means more than one assembly line is needed.


what affects dfm - reusable design


Companies create products for different market segments, it’s good from a business point of view, but manufacturing-wise is challenging as the number of operations required increases; more and different materials need to be procured, assembly becomes more time-consuming.


This product variation might also create a need for different firmware or setting up different tooling, it will all depend on how different the product variants are.


In the end, the factory will have to put a greater engineering and manufacturing effort into the production so to keep the original design and its requirements intact.


The extra costs of all of the extra processes that come with dealing with more than one production and assembly line will have a toll on your DFM efforts.


If you have to launch more than one product at a time here are a couple of basic recommendations to make manufacturing and assembly processes easier to handle.


  • Design parts that can be used on both/ all product variants.
  • Understand the relationship between part design and the tools they need for handling – ideally, you’ll only need the same tools.
  • Aim at using the same materials and components, such as camera modules, to make assembly easier, you can limit functionality with different firmware.


3- Components Availability and Price


Getting all the electronic components you need to keep production lines running is a challenge, lead times vary from days to weeks.


If you designed your PCB with components you did not check lead times for, you might be in trouble when mass manufacturing comes.


The price of components it’s also something that may vary widely based on your suppliers.


Having assembly lines on hold because of lack of inventory is a sure way to waste money and increase time to market, which will most likely result in a loss of profit.


So remember, when you’re designing products, check for lead times.


4- Reusable Design


 Strong engineering expertise is key here.


Whether a previous design is reusable or not will impact DFM, there’s a reason why every new iPhone looks a bit like its previous version, because the design was intended to be reused for ease of manufacturing.


what affects dfm - Product Variants


If Apple wanted to come out with totally different phone shapes every year, they would have to invest heavily in R&D, tooling, and molds; this wouldn’t be DFM friendly.


5- Regulatory Requirements


Every product has to comply with quality standards and certifications depending on the environment where they’ll function and country location.


So, if a product needs to work say, in underwater conditions, then conformal coating for PCB will have to be added to the design. 


This means an extra step in manufacturing, time, and costs will have to be calculated for this.



Every product and its respective manufacturing facilities and technology are different, so coming up with DFM guidelines that can apply to all products is not possible.

However, there are a couple of things you should always keep in mind.




The process you choose must be the most adequate for the part, material, and volume you’ll be working with.


For example, if you’re going to mass manufacture some sort of radio, injection molding is your best choice, injection molding will give you flexibility with surface finish and colors.


The thing about injection molding is that making the molds is expensive, this is why it is suitable only for mass production.


DFM Choose the best manufacturing process


For lower manufacturing volume thermoforming or even 3D printing might be a better fit.


If you’ll be working with hard metals, CNC machine manufacturing will be needed.


The manufacturing process you’ll need for your product must be clear early on in the design stage, and make sure your manufacturing partner can do it.




You have to make sure the product design is as simple to manufacture as possible.


Things like a uniform wall thickness for a product part, avoiding unusual hole sizes that would require custom tools, and avoiding similar shape product parts are all part of a good design for DFM.


For more DFM guidelines please click the following link DFM Guidelines 




Metal or plastic and specifically, what kind of metal or plastic?


This is important as there are different and specific DFM guidelines you should apply depending on what kind of material you’ll use.


DFM Guidelines for Plastic Injected Parts

DDM Guidelines for Metal


The material selection depends on the requirements of the product.


metal or plastic material for DFM




The product requirement sheet or matrix will specify the kind of environment the product will have to withstand.


As you might expect, a device that is meant to work in extreme heat conditions will not be designed following the same guidelines as one that has to work, say, underwater.


Conformal Coating for PCB 




Your product won’t succeed unless you do all the proper testing before mass manufacturing.


Any kind of product you manufacture will have some safety and quality standards to comply with; knowing exactly which certifications a product will have to pass before it hits the market is vital.


The certifications will have to be considered in the early design stages of the product or risk major drawbacks as, you’ll think, you’re nearing the end of the product development process.


DFM and testing


In electronics for example, if a device can not pass a certification due to a PCB interference signal, it could mean having to do a whole redesign of the PCB, pretty much going back to the first steps of product development.




When DFM is done right, you’ll ensure your product hits its market window when it has to and maximize profit, something that won’t happen if you design a product without taking into account the manufacturing plant capabilities and technology -a non-DFM approach.


 DFM is important because 


  • It drastically reduces production costs.
  • It makes sure your product goes from Proof of concept to mass manufacturing.
  • It reduces setup time for the factory.
  • It leads to a shorter Time to Market.




Perhaps you’ve already heard this: Hardware is a Cash Flow Business; here at Titoma we back up that statement.


 According to Cb Insights, 29% of new hardware ventures fail because they run out of money.


Why is DFM important (2)


That’s not going to happen to my company; I have millions raised to develop and manufacture my product – you might be thinking.


Congrats on having all that money, but sometimes not even $118 million is enough to make it.


Airware, despite raising $118 million, ran out of money after trying to manufacture its hardware.



additive manufacturing drone



The main reason for this failure- apart from poor leadership – was trying to develop and manufacture every single part of their hardware (a drone); they wanted to be proprietary owners of it all.


Around 70% of the manufacturing costs of a product come from design decisions, which includes components and parts selections and manufacturing method. 


Notice how I wrote, “component and parts selection,” now what more if someone has the brilliant idea to manufacture all parts and components from scratch.




Scaling up is when you go from one prototype that works to thousands of end products that deliver expected functionality and meet established costs.


When you’re doing a couple of dozen prototypes you can use any and as many components and parts as you want, but when the time comes to build thousands, they might turn out not to be the best choice regarding costs and lead time.


And what if on top of that, the manufacturing plant doesn’t have the capacity or technology to handle the components you chose for your design?



DFM and scaling up


Take Juicero as an example.


It consisted of 400 custom parts and dozens of components and subsystems, it’s as if they wanted to make the device as difficult to manufacture as possible.


It was not DFM-friendly.


The bottom line, if you designed your product without considering your manufacturing plant’s capabilities and components availability, you’ll have a hard time scaling up.




The advantages of DFM are


  • High-quality products
  • Fast Time to Market
  • Lower production cost
  • The faster product development process
  • Smoother transition between prototyping and mass manufacturing
  • Smooth product manufacturing
  • Higher profits




DFM will take from 3 months to 6-9 months, this will depend on the expertise of your engineering team, how well they communicate with the manufacturing plant, and the complexity of the product.


DFM is a design and manufacturing approach that happens along with every product development stage until the product reaches mass manufacturing and packaging.



how long does DFM take


With an experienced team, DFM for your first prototype will take 3 months, for a works-like-looks-like prototype DFM will take 6-9 months.



The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance produces 49 different vehicle models.


All their electronics, such as the displays, the radios, the safety devices, HVAC, etc., are 99% the same, the only difference is the logo, and sometimes a part of the housing and the firmware.


DFM example 2021 


Here’s a possible scenario in your manufacturing process and a good DFM example.


You are using screws to fasten your PCB on the housing, a different screw type to attach a sensor on your electronic product, and another kind to fix a heatsink to a transistor; you have to


Instead of having 5 type-A screws and 7 type-B, and 3 type-C, you will have 15 screws, but all of them type-D, improving your volume effect, your manufacturing logistics, etc…. And then reducing your product cost!


Design for manufacturing example

Design for Manufacturing Conclusion


The DFM process aims at making a product easy to manufacture while achieving high-quality standards and save money.


Everything done in the design stage affects design for manufacturing.


From the way the printed circuit boards were designed to the several components that were chosen; plastic parts, metal parts, tight tolerances, part cost, it all affects DFM.


  • If to create your products many parts are required, then all assembly lines will become time-consuming operations- a lengthy assembly process.
  • If your product requires CNC machining, then your manufacturing processes will have to account for the cost of having CNC machining.
  • Environmental factors will play a role too; if your printed circuit boards need conformal coating it will add up to the cost.
  • If the materials you chose for your machined parts are hard, then the production process will certainly be longer and more expensive.
  • If your device can be assembled in one direction only, this will speed things up, making assembly processes faster, good for DFM.
  • Tooling, if during the design stage you decided to go with some custom parts and fasteners, then custom tooling will be needed in the production lines, that and teaching the operator how to use them, is not good for DFM.