Design for Manufacturing, or DFM, is the process of designing products for ease of manufacturing as well as creating a better, more cost-effective product. DFM is a vital product-development step that looks to simplify and optimize the design to ensure high quality and efficiency during production.
Successful silicone molded parts must be designed from the beginning to be manufacturable. The DFM process should occur early in the design phase of any injection molding project and should engage key parties including designers, tool fabricators, raw material suppliers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders. The goal is to tap into the experience of each of these experts. The team will scrutinize the current design from many angles with the goal of identifying a more cost-effective solution that maintains quality!
Part design should be focused on the ease of manufacturing because it can help reduce cost and lead to a robust and reliable process. Several aspects of the design will be considered during the DFM process: part geometry, location and shape of critical surfaces, size, and among others. Additionally, the DFM process should consider material selection, dimensioning/tolerancing, and the selection of critical dimensions as all of these factors impact manufacturability. By making the right material, color, durometer, dimension, and tolerance choices, OEMs can develop molded devices and components that can be reliably manufactured in large volume—while minimizing scrap rates and losses.
The Value of DFM
OEMs need to ensure the part is as easy to manufacture as possible! This will result in more efficient production, better quality, and lower cycle times. Below are some ways OEMs gain value from the Design for Manufacturing process.
- Save Significant Cost and Time: OEMs are often in a rush to get a new product to market so it is tempting to shorten – or even skip – the DFM process. However, it is important to keep in mind that changes to the design become exponentially more expensive and timely to implement as the product advances through the life-cycle. A thorough DFM upfront will allow any optimizations to be made or issues to be resolved before the changes significantly impact the project timeline or budget! When it comes to DFM, the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is very true!
- Optimize Functionality and Aesthetics: tooling for injection molds is often expensive to fabricate and costly to modify; thus, it is imperative to get the tool design right the first time! If the design is off even by a small margin, the product aesthetics and functionality will be altered. The DFM process typically includes computer simulations of the design so the team can fully visualize the product. Oftentimes, this step yields additional insights and optimizations that would have been lost if the DFM process was not performed – resulting in a more functional and aesthetically-pleasing product.
- Confirm Manufacturability: last but certainly not least, the DFM process ensures the part can be manufactured! This may seem obvious but there are more instances of products reaching production only to realize the product cannot actually be manufactured per its current design – what a nightmare! To avoid this situation, OEMS should partner with an experienced injection molder, like ProMed, that has DFM expertise. ProMed’s design and manufacturing teams are integrated to allow manufacturability issues to be identified and addressed during the design process instead of after the tooling is fabricated – saving customers significant development time and cost as well as innumerable headaches! ProMed works with customers throughout the product life-cycle, providing a cost-effective solution that meets the customer’s needs!
ProMed’s DFM Approach
Over the years, ProMed has evolved into a full-service provider of molded parts and assembled products, including molded silicone components, biomaterial grade plastic components, combination components (pharmaceuticals into silicone) and value-added assemblies. We have garnered a reputation as the world benchmark of implantable silicone components and assemblies – and are one of few companies in the world to provide contract manufacturing of drug-eluting products. Through multiple media platforms, ProMed’s collaborative DFM meetings include a diverse group of engineering experience that work to provide you with the best path that will meet your requirements, budget and timeline.
Our innovative processes range from simply molding components to automated assembly to providing complete devices. We utilize state-of-the art technology, draw from an experienced technical community, and take a creative systematic approach to provide you with a dependable, high-quality and overall cost-effective solution to your manufacturing needs. Let our team of experts take you all the way from concept to completion – or jump in anywhere in between. We offer complete in-house production and technical services such as:
- Design, tooling, molding and assembly
- Transfer, liquid injection, RTV, insert and compression molding capabilities
- Standardized tooling platforms
- IQ/OQ/PQ activities
Contact ProMed today at 763-331-3800 to discuss how we can help with your next silicone injection molding project!