Producing Diverse Designs in Concert With Manufacturing

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There is a new acronym bubbling up in the design world: DWM, which stands for “design with manufacturing.” Why is this different than design for manufacturing, or DFM? With DWM, the emphasis is on integration between the design team and the manufacturers during the design process. DWM is much more than that.

As an engineering service company, we provide design services to companies that require additional capacity to meet time-to-market objectives or technical expertise that may be beyond the experience or core competency of the company we are supporting.  

Whatever the reason, we are tasked with producing designs that meet various technical requirements, yet are cost-effective and manufacturable. We provide this service to hundreds of customers who have varying degrees of processes, tools, and manufacturing partners. Given this diversity, we have recognized the importance of designing with manufacturing to achieve the product development goals of manufacturability and technical excellence.   

Our business revolves around printed circuit board design services. We are not an OEM and we don’t develop products; therefore we start with customer-supplied data. The depth of the data varies depending upon the customer and the project, but we are receiving inputs from the customer to start the process. This is when the most important part of the process starts: communication. It’s important to understand the technical and tactical requirements. Besides the typical technical product development questions, there are several questions that we will also flush out early in the process:  

  • What are the product specifications that must be met?
  • Are there geographic or ITAR restrictions?
  • What are the projected prototype and production volumes?  
  • Do you have an approved vendor list (AVL), incumbent board fabricators, and/or contract manufacturers?
  • Does the product require RoHS compliance?
  • Do you have any single source components or custom components on your bill of materials (BOM)?
  • What is your project’s target completion date?

Addressing these questions helps identify all the DWM stakeholders so that we can begin communications to assure that we are in sync. The goal is to validate the decisions early in the design process rather than later, or during fabrication or assembly when problems are much more expensive to resolve. It is important to match the technical requirements with manufacturers whose process capabilities are well aligned with the technical requirements. 

Communication: Saving Money, Resources
For instance, receiving guidance from your PCB fabricator on laminate material options, costs, and availability issues is very beneficial. Establishing a board stackup that meets the technical requirements and is manufacturable is a prerequisite for successful high-performance or high-volume designs. 

Identifying coupon requirements, testing, panelization, thieving, and assembly rail requirements helps to streamline the PCB fabrication process and promote efficient assembly of the printed circuit board. Designing with blind and buried vias can increase the fab processing time but it may enable a PCB to be designed in fewer layers, which can more than offset the increased processing timeThis could be very significant for high-volume products. Addressing these requirements upfront enables the design to move smoothly through the fab and assembly processes.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the June 2022 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.


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