Designing Your PCB for Manufacturability

When outsourcing your PCB manufacturing, keeping costs low is important. Adding a Design for Manufacturability (DFM) analysis to your project scope may seem like adding an extra cost to your project in the front end unnecessarily. However, a DFM analysis will often reduce the overall cost of your project. The time and money spent on the initial analysis and design adjustments will reduce your manufacturing costs and save you time in the manufacturing process. Bypassing the DFM stage of your production process will often cost you more in the long run, since redesigns later in the PCB manufacturing process can be expensive and time consuming. It may even delay your project timeline.

Close up photo of a blue PCB.

What is Design for Manufacturability?

Design for Manufacturability (DFM) is a process that will look at your design from the manufacturing perspective. This process will help catch and prevent mistakes, as well as look at material selection, layout, and other specifications that can slow down the manufacturing process or increase your costs. DFM looks at your current design and makes the right adjustments to work with the right materials, components, layout, and manufacturing techniques to ensure a more efficient and cost-effective manufacturing process. A design that follows the manufacturing process is streamlined to create a reliable and cost effective end product.

Advantages of DFM

Using DFM before production begins has many advantages. While it may seem like an additional step, a DFM analysis can actually speed up your timeline. Any errors in design will be caught early in the process, before manufacturing. A DFM analysis will look for incorrect footprints, component spacing, overlapping components, and components too close to the board edge. An engineering team will also look at the project’s bill of materials (BOM), ensure there are correct and complete fabrication and assembly drawings including pad geometry, human interfaces, flex circuits, board to board connections, cabling and wiring.

DFM ensures the buildability of each individual component as well as ensuring that all components will work together in the final assembly. DFM will clarify that all the parts ordered are available and the best options, that components have sufficient space and are oriented correctly, and the board is set up with a test strategy that includes accessible test points. Additional points, like accessibility, mechanical fit, adequate clearance, and electrical connectivity will also be assessed.

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Using a Turnkey ECM with DFM Capabilities

When you use a turnkey ECM who can work with you on every stage of your product, you will have access to engineers who can look at your design and incorporate a DFM analysis. Your ECM’s project management team will understand your project from both the design side and the manufacturing side and can incorporate the right set up and materials to get your project all the way through production in the most efficient and cost-effective way, without sacrificing any quality or functionality. Using a turnkey facility with on-site engineers and DFM capabilities ensures that your project will move efficiently through the entire process. Confirming your design will move through the manufacturing and assembly process with ease before production even begins will give you a better understanding of your project timelines.

Turnkey ECMs are set up to do full box builds in addition to PCB manufacturing, and this single-vendor approach will centralize your project management, parts procurement, design reviews, prototyping, and testing.

When you are looking for an ECM for your PCB design, manufacturing, and assembly needs, a domestic turnkey ECM with DFM capabilities and on-site engineers is well worth the investment. DFM analysis can save you both time and money, as well as ensuring that your product will be manufactured in the best way possible for a positive end user experience. If you’re looking for a reliable turnkey electronic contract manufacturer capable of design support, contact Levison Enterprises today for a quote on your next project.

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