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As you bring a product to market, the electronics manufacturing partners you rely on should help you achieve your ultimate goal — product optimization. “Design for Excellence” (or “DfX”) is a phrase they may have used to describe their services. But what does it mean for Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA), and the product design and manufacturing process? On this page, we take a look at how it affects your ability to get a top-quality product to your customers when they need it.
Design for Excellence (DfX) is a product engineering methodology. It’s a systematic approach to optimizing the product development process to achieve your target objectives. For PCBAs, this means guaranteeing the manufacture of a quality product at a cost-effective price, delivered to the deadline.
DfX helps manufacturers define the quality of a product before production begins. It’s an integral part of any New Product Introduction (NPI) process — think of it as a safety check when bringing an electronic product to mass production, and then to market.
DfX consists of a series of methods, guidelines, standards, and checks at various stages of a product’s life cycle. It’s a series of constituent processes that analyses the way your product is designed. These include: Design for Manufacturing (DfM), Design for Cost/Procurement (DfC/DfP), Design for Assembly (DfA) and Design for Testability (DfT). Let’s take a closer look at what these entail:
This is where you and your EMS partner will ensure the manufacturability of components, and that the complete assembly process lies within the EMS company’s capability. Design for Manufacturing can involve the following steps:
Every project managed with a DfX ethos should go through a Design for Manufacturing (DfM) stage. The aim here is to create a high-quality product at an optimized manufacturing cost and to reduce the risk of failure or inefficiencies at the assembly stage. Further benefits include an improved PCB yield, better performance and cost, and improved production stability and predictability.
DfC/DfP consists of several cost-controlling techniques applied across the manufacturing life cycle. A DfC/DfP review aims to identify and qualify alternative component parts which perform the same function as ones already identified. When doing so, it considers both engineering and process managing requirements.
Having known, pre-qualified alternatives:
At the End of Life (EOL) of a product, Design for Procurement also safeguards against including an obsolete component in your manufacturing plan.
Your product will need to be tested while in mass production. The Design for Testability (DfT) process analyses the test coverage of your PCB layout and develops the right tools to efficiently test the boards while in production.
DfT is critical to the manufacturing process and ensures your products meet predetermined quality standards. Your EMS partner will design and apply checks and balances to ensure your product functions properly.
An effective DfT process:
Design for Assembly (DfA) shares common objectives with the Design for Manufacturing process but focuses on optimizing your product’s ease of assembly. DfA ensures a smooth assembly of your PCB and that its physical layout rules are met before the prototype is built. Mechanical items such as plastic casings and enclosures, sheet metals, or CNC machining parts are optimized during the DfA phase of production.
Despite increasing rates of automation, your product (or parts thereof) can still be assembled by people. Investing in DfA:
A number of challenges have to be carefully addressed before manufacturing can begin. Partnering with a DfX-oriented Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS) company means your product will be optimized through critical review at each stage of its lifecycle. This minimizes the risk of product failure and means you can expect your product is created efficiently. DfX is your guarantee against unusable products, inflated costs, and missed deadlines. In short, you get a better product that costs less.
Key benefits of a DfX service include:
DfX is an integral part of any PCBA design and manufacture. Design excellence lies at the heart of any electronic contract manufacturing company, and the DfX method lies at the heart of optimized design.
By employing DfX across the whole design and production process, your PCBA design service can identify any challenges you’re likely to face in the mass production phase upfront. How these challenges are addressed depends on what they are, but overall you’ll strengthen the product design, reduce time to market, and increase the product’s competitiveness.
Ultimately, DfX will positively impact the value of your product: finding the most efficient balance between optimal performance and minimized cost. A PCBA design service that’s experienced in DfX can help you determine what function, need, or feature is critical to your product design, and balance these performance needs with the necessary costs of material, labor, testing, and logistics to deliver it.
At Asteelflash, for instance, we partner with you to generate unique solutions that improve and optimize the design and manufacture through our network of in-house design centers. Read more on how our international team of EMS experts applies DfX to our PCBA design services.
Working with an EMS company or PCBA design service that’s built DfX into their method of production helps avoid common product development mistakes. These can include:
Ensure you’re getting the best of DfX when bringing your product to market:
Lack of collaboration between departments, or different phases of the manufacturing process, a poor understanding of supplier capabilities or limitations not meeting customer expectations in terms of product reliability, lifetime or it’s context of use
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