In precision machining, there is often a gap between design and manufacturing. What looks good on paper doesn’t always translate easily to the shop floor. In these cases, customers often spend valuable time and money on revisions and extensive back-and-forth communication with their manufacturing partner.
DFM, or Design for Manufacturability, bridges the gap between what’s possible to design and what’s practical to manufacture.
When designers and manufacturers collaborate early on in the design process with DFM principles guiding them, the outcome is a part that’s cost-efficient to manufacture without sacrificing quality or performance.
What Is DFM?
DFM is the practice of optimizing the manufacturability of a part while maintaining its original design’s intentions. Designers and manufacturers combine their unique expertise to identify solutions that reduce costs and lead times.
The key to DFM is collaboration. The designer and the manufacturer examine the design in distinct but equally essential ways. The designer focuses on preserving the original design intent, and the manufacturer advocates for manufacturability.
Together, the two parties compromise on a design that minimizes cost while maintaining exceptional quality and performance.
A part designed without DFM best practices in mind might call for a 5/16”-diameter rod, which would need to be custom-ordered at the customer’s expense and could take weeks to arrive. A part designed with DFM best practices in mind would likely call for a standard 1/4”-diameter rod available in most precision machine shops.
The only reason a customer might need a custom-ordered rod is if the exact measurement is crucial to the part’s functionality—which is rarely the case. The chances of 1/16” making a notable difference are slim.
The Importance of DFM in a Precision Machine Shop
The purpose of DFM is to manufacture a better product faster and at a lower cost. This mutual win for customers and precision machine shops makes DFM an essential element of contract manufacturing.
DFM can also create solutions where there weren’t any before.
A customer came to Reata after a different shop couldn’t make their parts on time, and we couldn’t do any better—with the current design.
Instead of turning the customer away, we suggested changes that would streamline the manufacturing process. The customer signed off on our changes.
We delivered the parts in three days.
Key DFM considerations
DFM encompasses a broad range of unique manufacturing considerations, but customers can get a head start by considering these fundamental factors before engaging with a precision machine shop:
- Select suitable materials that are easy to machine and readily available.
- Design for standard tooling to eliminate the extra cost and time associated with ordering custom tooling.
Keep in mind that DFM best practices look different at every precision machine shop. Some shops have specific machining capabilities, like Reata’s multi-tasking machine, that simplify otherwise complex manufacturing processes, giving customers more design freedom from a DFM standpoint.
How to Choose a Precision Machine Shop that Prioritizes DFM
Choosing a machine shop that views each part as a collaboration between the designer and manufacturer is essential.
In the worst-case scenario, shops will manufacture parts as designed, no questions asked, and send customers extravagant bills without batting an eye. Thoroughly vetting prospective shops helps customers select a capable, collaborative machining partner.
Here are three factors that indicate a precision machine shop prioritizes DFM best practices:
- The shop is open to collaboration when modifying part designs to follow DFM principles.
- The shop has the necessary capabilities to manufacture the desired parts, as well as general capabilities like assembly.
- The shop has years of expertise in the contract manufacturing industry, including DFM experience.
Reata exceeds customer expectations
DFM plays an essential role in modern manufacturing, and choosing the right machine shop makes all the difference.
When customers work with Reata, we prioritize collaboration to ensure customers receive exactly what they request—or better. From a capabilities standpoint, our advanced equipment encompasses everything from Swiss turning machines to pallet systems for automated machining. And with 30 years of experience under our belts, we have the expertise to take on any project and provide smart DFM advice.
Request a quote to work with us.