DFMA stands for Design for Manufacturing and Assembly. It is an engineering methodology that focuses on optimising the manufacturing and assembly aspects of a product. Both of these aspects have a high impact on the final product’s quality and cost.
Factors such as raw materials, manufacturing processes, volume, machinery, tooling, precision, number of parts and their complexity, labour and skills, automation potential, etc, are all very influential in product development. By optimising these factors alone, companies can drop the initial cost estimates by over 50%. This is the main intention of implementing DFMA principles.
In DFMA, the product design is continuously modified while keeping certain end goals in mind to arrive at a product that requires less time, money and effort to produce.
The Need for DFMA Methodology
Why do we need DFMA when we already have DFM and DFA? Let us start by reviewing our understanding of each.
Design for Manufacturing is concerned with maximising the manufacturing ease of a product. It employs techniques that make manufacturing faster, cheaper, and easier by improving the design and the manufacturing process.
On the other hand, Design for Assembly works to simplify, shorten and mistake-proof the assembly process. Principles such as poka-yoke, combining and standardising parts are all examples of DFA application.
Both DFM and DFA have similar objectives. They both aim to reduce material requirements, cost and time-to-market. But there are times when the two may work against each other. A net gain from DFM could lead to a net loss in DFA, essentially making the gain worthless.
Let’s take the example of combining parts from DFA “guidebook”. If fewer individual parts lead to a part that is expensive or difficult to manufacture, we gain little benefit from this DFA technique as DFM is affected negatively. Similarly, many DFM guidelines can reduce the effectiveness of a DFA technique.
To avoid such occurrences, it was prudent to look at the two methodologies of DFM and DFA together. This is how DFMA came to be. It uses DFA and DFM in tandem to arrive at an optimum product design. DFMA can help us leverage the advantages of both these methodologies without the disadvantages of either.