Introduction to DFMA: Design for Manufacturing and Assembly

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The involvement of PCB in our lives has increased a lot in the last few decades. From the health industry to the traveling industry and more, everything has PCB in it. Moreover, the entertainment industry of today cannot exist without PCB. All this increasing need for PCB means one thing: the high production of PCBs.

While producing PCBs in high quantities has no issues, the increasing cost and time requirement can be huge hurdles. In all of these situations, DFMA service brings the best possible options. So, here we will be having a thorough introduction to DFMA service and its value for the PCB manufacturing industry.

The introduction to DFMA starts with two different methodologies of production. These are named DFM and DFA. So, we will start by briefly describing both.

What is DFM?

DFM means the design for manufacture. It is all about the designing process focused on the ease of the manufacturing process. It is all about choosing the materials, parts, and processes that will be cost-effective for production. In this way, the overall complexity for the manufacturing phase is reduced.

What is DFA?

DFA means to design for assembly. It is focused on the designing process for the ease of assembly process of a product. DFA is about choosing the right materials and the assembly operations to reduce the assembly cost.

What is DFMA?

When we talk about DFMA, it means that we are talking about the design that will focus on both manufacturing and assembly. In this way, the materials, parts, and processes are made cost-effective, and the assembly process reduces overall cost and time for the production of a PCB. However, DFMA Service is not all about these things.

It includes identification, elimination of wastes, and quantification in the whole manufacturing and assembly process for PCB making. In this way, the DFMA enables the elimination of all sorts of inefficient aspects of the production process, which helps in reducing the overall time and cost of a product.

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The Principles of DFMA.

While DFMA services make it amazingly quick and cheap to carry out the production process of PCB manufacturing, it is not that easy. The main reason for the difficulty is the need for high-quality products and a well-performing final product.

So, the principles of DFMA allow for making the product meet the standards and get as cheap as possible. Below are some of the basic principles of DFMA service.

Proper planning according to design

The first thing here is planning. Planning is the first principle of DFMA service to make sure that the first steps are placed in the right way. In the PCB manufacturing process, the first step is to design schematics and circuits.

So, at this step, professionals will do proper planning about taking your design and converting it into the design for PCB. Proper planning at this phase of the process brings important value for the coming phases: cost reduction planning here will benefit all the coming steps.

Make sure to get the best materials.

While the planning principle may involve some suggestions and involvements from the client-side, the next principle will not. This principle is more related to the manufacturing part, and it ensures to get the best material possible. Sourcing the best material also means the right opportunity for lowering the costs of the process.

Additionally, this part involves controlling the material in the right way with a bit of planning. For example, when the PCB is being made, laying out the design images on copper panels in the right way may produce more PCBs from one panel. So, it is also ensured to plan the right usage of materials.

Making the process efficient by all means

The next principle here is to make the process efficient. Process efficiency matters at every step and the slightest inefficiency can lead the whole production process to be inefficient. For example, automation used right, and all the equipment laid next to each other where possible can reduce the time to transport and manufacture.

Moreover, it can help in reducing human labor as even one person can carry out the whole process. So, the whole production process is made as efficient as possible in this part.

Standardizing the production process

To standardize the production process means that the production process will use some standard techniques and equipment. Using similar design files for different projects can also be a standardized approach. When automation is added to the PCB production process standardizing equipment can help a lot. Although a lot of phases of the process are not the same, some can be the same as the following:

  • Drilling the mounting holes
  • Routing the final shape and size of PCB out of the panel with CNC
  • Standardizing some parts of the PCB where solder paste can be printed in the same way

By doing such things in the PCB production process, things can be made better and quicker because most of the stuff will not require starting from scratch.

Maintaining all the standards.

No matter how low the cost and production time are, if the quality does not meet the standards, then there is no use in using DFMA services. So, the last principle is to maintain all the standards regarding the production of PCB.

An amazing example here is to have different testing stages and equipment to ensure that the process is going in the right direction after every few steps. In PCB manufacturing, some of the things that ensure higher standards are:

  • Testing the design before starting the manufacturing process.
  • Testing PCB after masking and etching
  • Testing after laminating(only in case of multilayer PCBs)
  • Visual inspection of solder paste after printing it on the PCB
  • Using CNC to make sure all holes and overall size of PCB is right
  • Final testing through digital equipment to make sure that the final PCB is good in terms of performance

With all of these tests done at different stages, the whole manufacturing process becomes better and meets all the quality and performing standards.

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Advantages of DFMA to know about

DFMA service brings amazing advantages and benefits for both the manufacturing factory as well as the client. While some of the benefits are related to the manufacturing and assembly parts, some are related to the overall usage of the PBC. Here are some of the advantages of DFMA.

High-quality production can be achieved at every stage

DFMA approach leads towards automation at different phases of the production process of PCB. Automation leads towards better quality at each step. While human hands can miss out sometimes, machines can never miss on something until or unless there is some issue. This makes the quality highly efficient with the least chances of errors.

The whole process becomes more sustainable.

With the right planning and production phase design, the whole PCB manufacturing process can be made more sustainable using DFMA. Whether it is about using the right types of energy or using the different techniques, the overall process can be easily made more sustainable.

Quicker production speed with shorter assembly time

The overall speed increases. When each step of the process is planned to be after the other, there is minimal time wastage because every piece of equipment is waiting for the material to come for processing. Although there is some waiting time between steps like lamination in PCB manufacturing, there is no unnecessary waiting time.

A huge role here is played by standardized assembly and manufacturing practices. When everything is done in a specific manner, speed can be enhanced in every phase of the production process.

Better reliability and safety

Not only the production process but the final product themselves are made more reliable and safer. Every step is carefully designed, and there are checks and tests that the material has to pass through. For example:

  • Solder paste inspection
  • Circuit testing
  • Design testing
  • Overall assembly testing and many more
  • So, top-notch reliability and safety can be ensured.
  • Low overall cost

Lastly, the process of PCB production can be carried out at a lower overall cost. Whether it is about the lower labor cost, lower material cost, low resources cost, or anything else, DFMA service makes sure to make things cost-effective at every step of the process.

Final Remarks:

When we talk about the mass production of PCBs, things need to be efficient by all means. It is because if there is any little inefficiency in the process, it will also affect the whole mass production process. That inefficiency can be related to the manufacturing process taking more time or the final product costing more.

Similarly, it can be about the product not meeting the quality and performance standards. To deal with all of these issues, DFMA service is the best choice. It enables the production process to reduce the time for manufacturing along with the cost of materials, parts, and processes.

At the same time, the best quality from the final product is made sure that the final product is exactly according to the client's requirement.

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