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What is Design for Manufacturability in Injection Molding?

Posted by Ken Glassen on Apr 8, 2020 9:57:50 AM
Ken Glassen

DfM in Injection MoldingGenerally speaking, Design for Manufacturability (DfM) — or Design for Manufacturing — is the process of consciously and proactively designing products to optimize all facets of manufacturing. 

DfM methodology aligns engineering and production in the design phase, ensuring cost and time efficiencies, superior quality, regulatory compliance, and end-user satisfaction. Problems are identified and addressed early in the product development process, preventing costly issues that could impact manufacturability: raw materials selection, tolerances, and secondary processing.

Within injection molding, successfully executing DfM for complex applications requires considerable technical expertise. This magnifies the importance of partnering with an experienced molder. A true depth of knowledge about DfM results in efficient design decisions and the following benefits.

1. INCREASED CONFIDENCE IN THE DESIGN PROCESS

As mentioned, DfM helps identify issues, catch mistakes, and avoid costly downstream changes. Detailed design is focused on both the shape and tolerance of a part. The ability to apply DfM to shape depends on the process, using design standards or advanced systems, while tolerance needs to be determined based on its effect on function.

Integration of Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)  is critical to product design and process analysis. When using FMEA during detailed design, each failure mode is evaluated, documented, and ranked by severity so corrective actions can be taken to control high-risk items. 

Whatever stage in the design process, DfM is a critical aspect of product development, resulting in ultimate confidence.

2. TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS ALIGNING WITH PROCESS CAPABILITIES

Moldfill analysis (mold simulation software) uses a computer program to analyze and predict plastic flow and cooling during all phases of the injection molding process. Moldfill ensures part design elements — wall thickness, draft, gate locations, geometries, etc. — are appropriate for the component’s process, tooling, and aesthetics.

Different analytical softwares are available. Selecting the right one for each project can help maximize production efficiencies that improve the processes as well as part quality.

Plus, quick adjustments (based on the analysis) can be made to see if changes to a part would result in an improvement.

3. REDUCTION IN CHANGES AFTER TOOL BUILD

You know DfM analysis uncovers opportunities for improving manufacturability, increasing speed to market, and reducing costs. One of the most obvious ways to reduce costs is to reduce changes needed after building the tool.

No one wants to incur the expense — or the potential for significant project timeline delays — caused by retooling. DfM analysis gives injection molding engineers project insights that save manufacturers time and money by identifying potential part moldability issues and solutions during the design phase.

Proper part analysis and any part design modifications that result from that analysis, help simplify tooling, reduce the molding cycle, and reduce costs. Minimizing changes after tool build is all about finding practical solutions to project impediments that could jeopardize successful outcomes.

4. FEWER COMPONENTS, LESS COST, SIMPLIFIED FABRICATION

Using the fewest number of components in a device/machine reduces materials, the need to order, and overall automation costs. Plus, it smooths out inventory challenges and makes end-user field service easier.

DfM provides opportunities to make appropriate materials substitutions to enhance part quality and reduce costs while meeting cosmetic specifications.

Simplified part fabrication and assembly is a natural way to achieve cost efficiencies that lower per-part prices. Designs that consider part geometries and eliminate unnecessary features or secondary processing can streamline fabrication and assembly, cutting production time and related costs.

WHO BENEFITS MOST FROM DFM?

The benefits of DfM are appreciated across industries and throughout various businesses. However, DfM’s upfront analysis and value is maximized within the new product development process.

Design engineers who may not be familiar with plastic part design gain the most from partnering with an experienced custom injection molder. New product designs are reviewed from a plastics manufacturability point of view, with DfM being the touchpoint for project collaboration.

Having (and sharing) professional expertise and technology quickly and efficiently elevates the communication between engineers, which is vital to the project’s overall success.

Buyers and purchasing/sourcing professionals use DfM for estimating price per part and overall manufacturability. Design aspects can be optimized to decrease costs and help create a production schedule.

There is a “sweet spot” for when to run a DfM analysis. It’s when the part is far enough along in design that the function of the part is well understood and there’s a basic structure of the part. Typically, a 3D model (CAD file) is available to get the review started.

Prior to general sourcing, you still have the flexibility to make changes (saving time/money and improving quality).

WHY LOOK TO KAYSUN FOR DFM GUIDANCE?

Whether your application is medical, automotive, or another industry, if it’s complex in nature, a DfM study by an experienced injection molder is a must-have step in the process. Upfront feedback goes a long way to help nail project specifications.

Yet remember, the best DfM analysis isn’t a procedure, it’s a partnership. This is the way the best solutions are discovered. That’s why Kaysun takes a full team approach to DfM for plastic parts: toolmakers, manufacturing engineers, CMM (coordinate measuring machine) technicians, tooling engineers and designers, and quality engineers.

As an industry leader in DfM analysis, Kaysun knows the processes necessary to achieve a successful new part design. We make sure our deep knowledge base aligns with your needs for a smooth process.

Want to learn more about how to get your injection molding project to market swiftly and efficiently? Click below to gain access to our guide, 5 Steps to Get New Injection Molded Products to Market Faster.

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Topics: General Manufacturing, Plastic Part Design

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