Design for manufacturability

Depending on various types of manufacturing processes there are set guidelines for DFM practices. These DFM guidelines help to precisely define various tolerances, rules and common manufacturing checks related to DFM.

While DFM is applicable to the design process, a similar concept called DFSS (Design for Six Sigma) is also practiced in many organizations.

In the PCB design process, DFM leads to a set of design guidelines that attempt to ensure manufacturability. By doing so, probable production problems may be addressed during the design stage.

Ideally, DFM guidelines take into account the processes and capabilities of the manufacturing industry. Therefore, DFM is constantly evolving.

The most important yield loss models (YLMs) for VLSI ICs can be classified into several categories based on their nature.

After understanding the causes of yield loss, the next step is to make the design as resistant as possible. Techniques used for this include:

All of these require a detailed understanding of yield loss mechanisms, since these changes trade off against one another. For example, introducing redundant vias will reduce the chance of via problems, but increase the chance of unwanted shorts. Whether this is good idea, therefore, depends on the details of the yield loss models and the characteristics of the particular design.

The objective is to design for lower cost. The cost is driven by time, so the design must minimize the time required to not just machine (remove the material), but also the set-up time of the CNC machine, NC programming, fixturing and many other activities that are dependent on the complexity and size of the part.

Unless a 4th- &/or 5th-Axis is used, a CNC can only approach the part from a single direction. One side must be machined at a time (called an operation or Op). Then the part must be flipped from side to side to machine all of the features. The geometry of the features dictates whether the part must be flipped over or not. The more Ops (flip of the part), the more expensive the part because it incurs substantial "Set-up" and "Load/Unload" time.

Each operation (flip of the part) has set-up time, machine time, time to load/unload tools, time to load/unload parts, and time to create the NC program for each operation. If a part has only 1 operation, then parts only have to be loaded/unloaded once. If it has 5 operations, then load/unload time is significant.

Lastly, the volume (number of parts to machine) plays a critical role in amortizing the set-up time, programming time and other activities into the cost of the part. In the example above, the part in quantities of 10 could cost 7–10X the cost in quantities of 100.

Metals come in all forms. In the case of aluminum as an example, bar stock and plate are the two most common forms from which machined parts are made. The size and shape of the component may determine which form of material must be used. It is common for engineering drawings to specify one form over the other. Bar stock is generally close to 1/2 of the cost of plate on a per pound basis. So although the material form isn't directly related to the geometry of the component, cost can be removed at the design stage by specifying the least expensive form of the material.

A significant contributing factor to the cost of a machined component is the geometric tolerance to which the features must be made. The tighter the tolerance required, the more expensive the component will be to machine. When designing, specify the loosest tolerance that will serve the function of the component. Tolerances must be specified on a feature by feature basis. There are creative ways to engineer components with lower tolerances that still perform as well as ones with higher tolerances.

Additive manufacturing broadens the ability of a designer to optimize the design of a product or part (to save materials for example). Designs tailored for additive manufacturing are sometimes very different from designs tailored for machining or forming manufacturing operations.

In addition, due to some size constraints of additive manufacturing machines, sometimes the related bigger designs are split into smaller sections with self-assembly features or fasteners locators.

A common characteristic of additive manufacturing methods, such as Fused Deposition Modeling, is the need for temporary support structures for overhanging part features. Post-processing removal of these temporary support structures increases the overall cost of fabrication. Parts can be designed for additive manufacturing by eliminating or reducing the need for temporary support structures. This can be done by limiting the angle of overhanging structures to less than the limit of the given additive manufacturing machine, material, and process (for example, less than 70 degrees from vertical).