What Is DFM?

DFM is the manufacturer’s opinion on the manufacturability of products. What are the loopholes and complexities of the design? How to simplify them? Is the design even manufacturable? Or can it be designed to get it done in an optimized cost? A properly-executed DFM looks like an amalgamation of all the stakeholders including designers, engineers, contract manufacturers, and material suppliers. DFM ensures that the design is optimized and does not have unnecessary cost embedded in it.

Therefore, DFM is knowing the best design to fit your electronics in terms of both cost and complexity. DFM is an abbreviation for design for manufacturability.

Design-for-Manufacturing

This image is a real-time rendition of why we need DFM. The simultaneous impact and cost of a change in design as we go into the process actually defines the purpose of DFM in the PCB industry.

DFM is a term usually associated with PCB. But it is a general term in electronics. Design for manufacturability is an engineering practice of designing products in a way which is best in terms of manufacturability. DFM, as a concept, is quite widespread in every field of the entire engineering world. The difference is basically dependent on manufacturing technology.  It is a critical manufacturing tooling design and process development step before making a new product.

Coming together of all stakeholders early in the design process is easier if you’re developing a new product. But you must keep this in mind that even with an established product, challenging the original design is a necessary element of a thorough DFM. Too often, mistakes in the design are repeated by replicating a previous design. Question every aspect of your design. If done well, DFM will assure both quality and productivity.

PCB DFM

DFM for PCB is a set of design guidelines that attempt to ensure manufacturability. Imagine finding errors in the fabrication and assembly process in the final stage. That would be a nightmare!

But isn’t that a manufacturer’s thing. Why should the designer consider DFM?

You will be on your toes to submit your designs to a manufacturer and then wait at your door like waiting for that cheesy pizza that you had ordered. But it might turn out to be depressing when you find faults that could have been easily prevented. The big question: Was it your fault in the design or did the manufacturer spill some coffee during the process?

DFM is not only the manufacturer’s guide to a better fabrication and assembly but can also help designers. It’s true that manufacturers do use DFM or sort of a checklist to look for issues and fix them. But where this tradition tends to lose its content is, very often manufacturers do not intimate designers about the changes they made. And sometimes even the changes made are not on the same page with the design and its performance or electrical requirements. What do you think will happen if the design team sends what they think is the spec for the boards off to a new production line? The results can be devastating with PCB failing in some, most or even worse all of the finished products

Therefore, both designers and manufacturers use DFM. Or at least, they should. DFM analysis software can prevent many issues. This process basically compiles the PCB layout to ensure the design is suitable enough for PCB fabrication and assembly.

Why DFM?

First and foremost, it will ensure that you are not daydreaming! It means that your PCB design is actually manufacturable in the real world. Because there is a difference between daydreaming about something and that thing really happening. Therefore, it tests the design in a production facility condition, instead of in an R&D lab or a computer simulation. In fabrication, it tends to be extremely challenging to accomplish designed highlights of a section or execution of a framework. In the worst outcome imaginable, PCB configuration may not be manufacturable and it needs to return to the planning phase once more.

With ensuring the manufacturability of the product, it can change the way you envisaged your circuit board. It can affect the look, feel, precision, and function of your product. DFM incorporates all designs for the bill of materials (BOM) things and the final assembly, for example, form factors, tooling structure, and fabricating process structure. Just with effectively designed instruments, it is conceivable to accomplish the right look, feel, precision, and efficiency of your high-end PCB.

It can as well affect your timeline. Sometimes you just don’t consider DFM because it’s an extra thing to carry off during the product turn-out. It’s true that sometimes DFM can go back and forth from a week to several weeks, depending on the quality requirements and the complexity of a new product. And you feel that time is money, and rightly so in this PCB industry. Imagine going through the final stages in shipping your product to market when you come to find errors in the fabrication or assembly process. You then begin to think of everything that could have gone wrong. Was it the PCB layout? Was it the materials used? Was it in assembly or fabrication? Were the specifications given wrong? This will not only cost you money but ruin your reputation as well. Even with all the latest technology, things may still go wrong. So, eventually, DFM will actually cut down your time, rise up your precision and make you famous!