To create a truly optimal design solution, you need more than engineering know-how—you need an engineer with a creative mind.
It sounds a bit like a unicorn, doesn’t it—an engineer with broad and intimate knowledge and experience with the manufacturing process, yet who also has that creative gleam in thinking that’s usually reserved for artists and designers.
But sometimes, a unicorn is precisely what you need.
A Difference for DFM
Design for Manufacturability (DFM) is the process of designing a part, product, or component to optimize its manufacture, providing customers with the greatest overall value. In evaluating a part, DFM looks at process, design, material, environment, and compliance/testing.
Whether for a new design or an established part, true DFM goes beyond producing the art as designed, instead challenging the design at the beginning. “Applying DFM generally starts during the product design stage. Our team of seasoned engineers uses TFC ‘Team Feasibility Commitment’ to design a process that achieves overall process capability and customer value.,” says LMC engineering VP, Kevin Suellentrop. “Up front is the point when it’s most cost effective to develop a solution that reduces manufacturing costs, both by identifying and preventing potential mistakes or discrepancies and by looking for opportunities to re-think the requirements of a part and find ways to achieve all the things that part needs to do, but maybe in a slightly different way.”
This is where creativity—imagination and vision—play a significant role in improving production of the part.
Art and Science
“Most manufacturers know about what they do as they consider DFM.” Says LMC CEO, Paul Lemke. “But LMC has a wider view on manufacturability, one that extends out past just the part and the machines to produce it.” Producing a part, he continues, requires material and machining. Producing a part efficiently and cost-effectively requires imagination and vision—some art to occasionally guide the science.
Applying creativity to solve manufacturing problems can save both time and money. For example, consider a simple set-up where there is a hole in a part, used to connect it to another part with a bolt. This hole-and-bolt system might be very secure, but also expensive when it comes to the tooling and die/mold maintenance costs associated with maintaining the necessary precision needed to ensure that the two parts align and perform as designed
But what if a hole-plus-bolt is just one of several possible solutions to the challenge of securing one part to another? Maybe changing one hole to a slot, when there is a little tolerance for where the two parts are positioned and aligned, while meeting design integrity can create some significant savings both in the tooling and the procedure to manufacture the part.
That kind of a solution doesn’t come from an engineer taking part specs and kicking the design into the tooling process. It comes from an expert engineer who not only understands the manufacturing process and has the engineering experience to know the possibilities of how to get parts to align and meet design integrity intent, but also the imagination and inventiveness to spot and suggest such opportunities for improvement that meet our customers’ product performance intent.
The LMC Creative Advantage
Creative thinking is what drives innovation in an engineering effort such as DFM. It’s what takes a manufacturing project beyond what’s known and expected to create new advantages. As the National Academy of Engineering stated in its 2004 report, “Creativity… is an indispensable quality for engineering, and given the growing scope of the challenges ahead and the complexity and diversity of the technologies of the 21st century, creativity will grow in importance.”
To ensure manufacturability success with the greatest ROI, LMC engineers are not only skilled and knowledgeable but creative—a quality we specifically seek out when hiring for our engineering team. Our investment in staff as well as equipment positions us uniquely to determine opportunities for enhancing designs and configuring equipment to do things that others have never thought to do. We put the right minds together in the room to find the best solutions.
We bring you the unicorn you need to solve your unique manufacturing challenges.
If you’d like to learn more about how LMC can help you with a new or even an existing stamping or molding program, contact us online or call us at 636.282.5214.