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Design for Manufacture and Assembly

Xiaofan Xie

Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah

ABSTRACT: Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) technique has

been utilized extensively in industry field these days. This paper is a
detailed review which will discuss the development history of DFMA,
compare some other “DFMA -like” theories, and good stories about the
successful implementations of DFMA in real-word product design.

1. DFMA and its development history

1.1 Traditional design paradigm

In order to survive and develop in the market, the enterprises have to present their
new product to the public rapidly and continuously. Meanwhile, they must keep
their products with the low price and high quality. So, developing the new product
to satisfy the costumes requirements and make them appear in the market as
soon as possible becomes the key to share more part of the cake of the market.

The tradition manufacturing method follows the developing cycle shown as figure
1. Following the conceptual sketches of the parts completed on the CAD
workstation, the design engineers create the detail drawing and assembly
engineer create the assembly plan. The workshop makes the prototype and gives
the feedback, which accords to the sample test, to the design engineers and
assembly engineers who will redesign the product, the assembly and the
manufacturing process. The same cycle repeats again and again until arriving at
competitive design.

This kind of process makes the design and manufacturing been performed
independently. “In this scenario, the designer designs a product and ‘tosses it over
the wall’to the manufacturer to produce. [1]” The design engineer and the
manufacturing engineer works individually and what results is that the final
products have many d isadvantages such as poor characteristics in manufacturing,
assembly, maintenance; long developing period; high cost; and unguaranteed


Fig 1. Traditional Manufacturing Process

Some of the famous manufacture such as Boeing, Motorola, HP, have employed
the new techniques during the period they develop the new products. One of the
most widely used techniques is DFAM (Design for Manufacturing and Assembly)
which combines the traditional manufacturing techniques with the modern
computer techniques and considers all of the factors that will affect the final
outputs in the early stage during the whole period of the products developing. By
using this technique, they try to make out the successful products by just one

1.2 What is “DFMA”?

The Term “DFMA”comes with the combination of DFA (Design for Assembly) and
DFM (Design of Manufacturing). The basic concept of it is that the design
engineers apply the DFMA paradigm or software to analyze the manufacturi ng
and assembly problems at the early design stage. By this means, all of
considerations about the factors that affect the final outputs occur as early as
possible in the design cycle. The extra time spent in the early design stage is
much less the time that will be spent in the repeatedly redesign. And meanwhile,
the cost will be reduced.

DFM is that by considering the limitations related to the manufacturing at the early
stage of the design; the design engineer can make selection among the deferent
materials, different technologies, estimate the manufacturing time the product
cost quantitatively and rapidly among the different schemes. They compare all

kinds of the design plans and technology plans, and then the design team will
make revises as soon as possible at the early stage of the design period
according these feedback information and determine the most satisfied design
and technology plan.

There are three goals in DFM:

1. Increase the quality of new produces during the developing period, including
design, technology, manufacturing, service and so on.
2. Decrease the cost, including the cost of design, technology, manufacturing,
delivery, technical support, discarding and so on.
3. Shorten the developing cycle time, including the time of design, manufacturing
preparing, and repeatedly calculation.

DFA is considering and resolving the possible problems in the assembly process
at the early stage of the design which can make sure the part will be assembled
with high speed, low cost and productivity. DFA is a kind of design paradigm with
which, the engineer use all kinds of methods such as analyze, estimating,
planning and simulating to consider all the factors that will affect the assembly
process during the whole design process; revise the assembly construc tions to
satisfied the characteristics and functions of the final products; and meanwhile,
lower the cost as most as possible.

DFA is a kind of design method that can be used in two ways--- a tool for
assembly analysis and a guide for assembly design. The former usage is that at
the time after the beginning of the product design, the engineer makes estimation
of assembly possibility by analyzing all the factors that can affect the assembly
process, and give suggestions. The second one is that collecting the knowledge
and experience from the assembly experts and recording them as design guides.
By the help of these guides, the engineer can choose the design plan; determine
the product construction such as under the guidance of those experts.

1.3 Development history of DFMA

If we trace the history of DFMA, we can even find it before the Second World War.
Ford and Chrysler use the DFM philosophy in their design and manufacturing
process of the weapons, tanks and other military products.

Dr. Geoffrey Boothroyd and Dr. Peter Dewhurst who founded the Boothroyd

Dewhurst, Inc. (BDI) in 1982 are the first persons doing the research job in this
new technology at the beginning in the early 1970’ s. Actually, the “DFMA”is a
trademark of their company. They created and developed the DFMA concept
which is used in developing the products of their company --- DFMA software
system. Currently these programs are used to help the design in almost all the
industrial fields including circuit boards [2], with manual assembly, with robotic
assembly, and with machining. They also do a lot of work examining the economic
justification of each design revision [3].

2. Alternative “DFMA-like”theories

There are many “DFMA-like”paradigms available. Some of them are discussed

below. Most of the theories mentioned here are based on the discussion of the
paper by Sanjay Ramaswamy, Arizona State University. [4]

(1) The Lucas DFA methodology

The basic construction of Lucas DFA is very similar to the DFA of BDI, it is the
result of the cooperation of Lucas Organization and the University of Hull in U.K.
Now, the logic of Lucas DFA has been integrated in the engineering analysis
software “TeamSet” which is the product of CCI (check it at
http://www.teamset.com/ ).

Lucas DFA separates the product design process into three stages: FcA (Function
Analysis), HA (Handing Analysis) and FtA (Fitting Analysis). The relations of these
three stages are shown as figure 2.

Before the manufacturing and assembly process, the PDS (Product Design
Specification) occurs which change the requirements of the customs into
engineering specifications. After that, the design engineers perform the design job
according to this information. This is a kind of process to change the engineering
specifications into the real design and meanwhile, all the requirements should be
satisfied. The Function analysis in Lucas DFA theory is to separates all the parts
of the product into the essential parts and the non essential parts that employs
very similar adjustment standard used by BDI DFA. Following the function
analysis, comes the analysis of handing. Same as the function analysis, Lucas
DFA separated the handing analysis into the automatic handing analysis and the
manual analysis. During the fitting analysis, the sequence of parts assembly will

be determined first, and then according to the assembly flow chat, analyze the
gripping and the fitting process. After finishing the whole DFA analysis process
mentioned above, the inadequate of the design will be highlighted, the revisal job
occurs at this time.

Fig 2. Lucas DFA method

(2) CyberCut

In summary, the technology used in CyberCut is DSG (Destructive Solid Geomety)

developed at UC Berkeley. The mean feature of t his system is that using a feature
based design system in conjunction with a knowledge based process planner to
promote design for manufacture [Wright and Dornfeld, 1998]. After using this
technology, the complexity of planning is reduced by removing the non essential

features from a solid block and leaving these features to the CNC machining
process. The design tool is developed by Java language and the whole system is
based on Internet.

(3) The Nippondenso Method

Nippondenso is a big Japanese car parts provider that gets huge orders for
various parts from many famous car producers. They divide their products into
sub-assemblies and make them interchangeable. And one of their standards is
that none of the products should have the jigs and fixtures.

(4) Producibility Measurement Tool

Producibility measurement tool uses Producibility Assessment Worksheets

(PAWs) which is based on the knowledge and experience of the persons doing
the evaluation. The worksheets use numeric values to determine the ease of
producibility for the elements that make up the process which when averaged
produce a measure of the probability of successful production, i.e., producibility.
Depending on the total program being measured for producibility, tens or even
hundreds of PAWs may be needed to produce a valid measurement of

(5) Feature Based Manufacturability Evaluation

This manufacturing evaluation method is built up by Gupta and Nau. The most
important steps for it are shown as followed. First, generate all the possible
features for the design part; each feature representing a machining operation [4],
and get rid of the parts which are not machinable. And second, a FBM (Feature
base model) which contains no redundant features is created. After that, the same
process yields again and again, the best plan is pick up at last.

(6) Taguchi Method

Taguchi Method is an advanced statistical technique which used for design of

experiment to find the best parameters or conditions in different manufacturing
process. By employing Taguchi Method, manufacturers can upgrade stability and
quality of their products. Taguchi method is useful for shortening the time to find
the best conditions for making new products in large number.

Except the technology mentioned above , there are a lot of “DFMA-like”theories
such as:

l Failure-Mode and Effects Analysis (A method which is used for preventing of

anticipated failures.)
l Group Technology (A method that it improves the design efficiency as well as
product quality.[4])
l Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is a detailed planning technique used to
translate the customs’requirements into company specifications at each
major stage of the product developing process.
l Design to Target Cost (DTC) is the managed process of monitoring and
controlling manufacturing cost at the product specification stage..

3.Post-Boothroyd attempts at developing similar techniques

After the huge success in developing the DFMA technology and software, Dr.
Boothroyd and his fellows keep doing the research in this field.

DFS (Design for Service) was

released in 1994, which is used in the
early stage of the product design
process to check the cost of the
maintenance and the maintainable
ability. In many cases, an easy
assembly product is not a easy
maintenance. For example, a nut that
is so easy to be assembled in less
then 20 seconds is very hard to be
released when it is rusted.
Fig 3 DFS software [6]

Cooperated with TNO and used the cost estimation model developed by this
Holland research center, BDI released DFE (Design for Environment) in 1996.
This product provides a method which estimates the cost of environment of the
product at its early design stage. This software make it possible that a custom o
has not the ecology background can consider the environment factors in the
design process. DFE is one of the earliest software used in the analysis of
environment cost.

Fig 4. DFE software [6]

There are several other software in the BDI’s series of products such as DFT
(Design for Test), DFD (Design for Discarding). All of these computer tools are
very useful in the product design.

4. Stories about the successful implementations of DFMA

4.1 Development of the BagEasy III.

The BagEasy III is a manual resuscitator designed for “single patient use”(to be
used multiple times on a single patient) by medical personnel in emergency rooms,
ambulances and other treatment locations (Figure 3) [7].

Fig 5 BagEasy III

A design team was founded and the goal of the team was to finish the design with

a concept what would meet the product requirement and meanwhile, improve the
manufacturability of the product. They used Boothroyd-Dewhurst DFMA as the
framework during the whole design process.

Throughout the whole design process, every member of the team shared the
ideals with each other. They communicated every day and the team meeting
happened anytime as needed. This resulted “breaking down the walls between
functions”[7] and achieving parallel design method which focused the team on the
object. Every member knew their product and what the product was going to be.

Supplier took part in the team activities and answered the questions from the
designer on how the parts could be produced. The feedback comes so quickly
instead of long time waiting as usual.

After the concept design finished, models generated in CAD was used for analysis.
As details of the design created, the concept was turned into real-word models.
The team members met the supplier at this time, reviewed the part design and
developed a better one.

The results of these efforts are that the new product is greatly simplified; the
improvement of assembly is 84%, of assembly cost is 74%.

4.2 DFMA Applied to analysis of Swingline ® Classic 747 stapler.

One of the projects for my DFMA class in this semester is the manufacturing and
assembly analysis of the Swingline® Classic 747 stapler. The group was made up
by five people and our goals for this project is that by using DFMA paradigm in the
real-world product analysis, we can be familiar with the DFMA method; know the
advantages we can obtain by DFMA in product design.

This product has been in the market for over 30 years and it seems that the
design of every part is classic and require no change. However, during the period
we applied DFMA paradigms in simulating the whole manufacture process for this
product, we found we may make some changes in some of the parts. According to
our analysis by DFMA means, these changes could either shorten the
manufacturing time or reduce the tool cost.

We focused our efforts on the analysis of material selection, assembly process,

and the sheet metal working of the parts. Five parts were redesigned from a
manufacture point of view which reduced the time and cost of manufacture. An
added bonus to those changes was a time and cost saving at the assembly stage.
However, most of the components, from the point of view of both material
selection and manufacture, and of assumed assembly methods of the stapler,
proved to be very acceptable. Figure 6 is the results we got from the calculation of
sheet metal working by DFMA means.

Fig 6. Comparing of the manufacturing cost

There are many other stories about the applications of DFMA in all kind of
industrial fields, such as “Design-cycle time for mass spectrometer slashed from
48 months to 16 months [8]”, “Application on the design of AH64 helicopter [9]”
Interested reader may check the BDI’s website (www.dfma.com) to find more
implementations of DFMA.


Following the preceding discussions, DFMA is a good method to increase the

productiveness, decrease the cycle time and the cost of manufacture and
assembly. Meanwhile, the DFMA software is helpful to finish these jobs faster and

DFMA software combines the knowledge of product design, assembly process,

material selection and manufacturing technology. An independent designer can
use it to make the feasible decision instead of collection tons of related materials
or consulting the experts. Every members of a product developing team can
thinks the same problem at the same time. Comparing with the traditional design
methods, DFMA shorten the manufacturing time, decrease the cycle time and
keep the high quality of the products, and meanwhile, make design more creative.

From the point of view of manufacturing, assembly and maintenance; DFMA

software provides a program which can analyze the developed plan, design, and
technology. Designers use the program to analyze the cost of manufacturing,
assembly and maintenance in order to make the final products low-priced, reliable
and easy assembly.

However, three shortcomings should be highlighted of DFMA method.

1. Insufficient scientific base. As a matter of fact, what Boothroyd and his fellows
do is adding all kinds of data (such as the parameters of materials, the
functions of calculations of cost and cycle time, the components that can or
cannot be assembled and etc.) to the database of their software, and let the
computer find out all the possible selections to a certain mission. By
comparing all these results, an optimal plan is picked out and put into effect.

2. DFMA method has little efforts at the conceptual design stage, where most of
the product cost is fixed.

3. Another Insufficiency of this method is the inability to provide redesign

suggestions to modify shapes in the case of an unsuitable design [4].


[1] Boothroyd, G.., Knight, W., and Dewhurst, P. , Product Design For
Manufacture and Assembly, 2 nd Edition, Marcel Dekker, Inc., 2002

[2] G. Boothroyd and W. Knight, ‘‘Manufacturing À La Carte: Efficiency:

Design for assembly,’
’IEEE Spectrum . Sept 1993, pp. 51-53.

[3] G. Causey, “Elements of agility in manufacturing”, Ph.D. Dissertation

(Mechanical Engineering), CWRU, January 1999.

[4] Sanjay Ramaswamy,”A Survey of DFM Methods”, Arizona State University

[5] BMP (http://www.bmpcoe.org), ‘‘

Application of Producibility Measurement

[6] http://www.extech.com

[7] Miles Parker, “Breathing easier with DFMA”.

[8] Nelson O. Weber, “Product Development Teams and Tools Applied to the
Aircraft Industruial”, World Class Design to Manufacture, Vol. 1 No. 6, 1994,
pp.20-26, MCB University Press, 1352-3047

[9] Alfredo Herrera, “Design for Manufacture and Assembly Application on the
Design of the AH64 Helicopter”, Presented at 12th International Forum on
DFMA, June, 1997, Newport, RI.