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Design for Manufacturing (DFM)

Key Takeaways

  • DFM can be described as the combination of two methodologies: design for fabrication (DFF) and design for assembly (DFA).

  • DFF and DFA ensure products are designed to be manufactured and assembled efficiently and easily.

  • The three phases of the DFM process are the design phase, the component placement phase, and the wire routing phase.

DFM intends to challenge the design stage at all levels

A PCB designer must consider the standards and limitations of the PCB manufacturer to ensure the design and manufacturing process goes smoothly. The design for manufacturing (DFM) process in PCB design should adhere to all the requirements of board design. In this article, we will explore DFM best practices for printed circuit boards. 

Design for Manufacturing (DFM)

DFM is closely related to design for fabrication (DFF) and design for assembly (DFA).

DFM venn diagram

DFF and DFA ensure the product is designed for efficient manufacturing and assembly. DFM best practices are followed by product development companies to prevent, detect, quantify, and reduce inefficiencies and waste in the PCB manufacturing process.

Design for manufacturing (DFM) involves optimizing a PCB layout, ensuring a smooth fabrication and assembly process. All problems associated with PCB design can be mitigated through proper DFM processes.

When optimizing the product development process, one of the major areas to improve is the PCB layout design for manufacturing. If the PCB is designed with DFM principles in mind, it undergoes necessary design changes aimed at reducing manufacturing costs and ensuring compliance with manufacturing, fabrication, and assembly rules, thus streamlining the production process.

DFM intends to challenge the design stage at all levels. The DFM process checks the accuracy of the design at the system level, sub-system level, and component level. These all-level process checks ensure the design is optimized and cost-effective. 

Advantages of Following DFM Practices

1) Fewer Iterations 

When it comes to PCB manufacturing, money is often wasted on redesigns. DFM reduces the number of iterations and redesigns by taking into account all the limitations and challenges of the vendors and cost parameters from the start. 

2) Shortened Time-to-Market

Assembly and installation take less time when DFM principles are followed. DFM reduces the need for manpower and eliminates the need for redesigns and iterations. With DFM processes, more products are able to be manufactured in a shorter span of time. Incorporating  DFM aspects into PCB design provides alternative component choices, considering the availability of the original component selected. In this way, DFM processes decrease lead time and product time-to-market. 

3) Quality Products

DFM improves the quality and performance of products by providing superior PCBs that meet all specifications and standards and overcome limitations and challenges that could reduce the quality of the PCB. Product value can be improved by applying DFM principles, ensuring high-performance yet low-cost products.

Three Phases of the DFM Process

The three phases of the PCB DFM process are:

1) Design Phase 

2) Component Placement Phase 

3) Wire Routing Phase

1. Design Phase

2. Component Placement Phase

3. Wire Routing Phase

Focuses on developing PCB layout design with correct footprint and component packaging.

Focuses on component placement by following the placement rules.

Focuses on properly routing wires by considering wiring standards.

By following these three phases of the DFM process, it is possible to accelerate manufacturing, with benefits such as minimum material wastage, increased productivity, reduced production time, and scaled-up production - all at a reduced cost.

Cadence’s PCB design tools allow the designer to run DRC and real-time DFM checks, which help the designer adapt to design challenges while meeting the requirements of the manufacturer. Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. If you’re looking to learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts or subscribe to our YouTube channel.