Master the Art of Communication With Manufacturers


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Design with manufacturing (DWM) emphasizes the important aspect of the true intent of design for manufacturing (DFM). The intent of DFM is to consider the manufacturing process during the entire printed circuit design process starting at the earliest stages of the design cycle, when the project first begins, and continuing to the end of the product lifecycle.

As mentioned in the May issue of Design007 Magazine, design is performed, at times, in a vacuum. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Whenever circumstances allow, design should be performed by communicating with all stakeholders throughout the design process, hence the emphasis on the word with in DWM. Communication can occur through personal correspondence such as email and voice conversations or through more formal design meetings—in person or through videoconferencing. No matter which means of communication you prefer, it’s important to communicate early and often with stakeholders involved in the downstream processes as you bring your project to realization.

There’s No ‘I’ in Team

Unlike the word “team,” there is an “I” in design with manufacturing, but that doesn’t make it a singular process. Rather, DWM requires involvement of a cross-functional team with the designer as the key stakeholder who communicates regularly with the team throughout the design process. This communication includes receiving feedback early from other stakeholders and implementing any improvements they suggest.

The higher-level structure of DWM takes effort but yields superior results because it helps the designer avoid delays while lowering manufacturing costs and maintaining a high-quality finished product. For example, deadlines are more likely to be met by communicating early with the assembly team on bill of materials component availability. For those designers using revision control, communicating early can help avoid the costly process of rolling a revision for minor last-minute design changes. Communicating with the fabrication team before beginning assembly can help lower manufacturing costs and turn times by discovering cost reduction opportunities, such as combining similar drill sizes.

DWM seeks to unify all stakeholders of the circuit board design and development process, including the designer, fabricator, and assembler. For components with specific requirements, DWM may also include involving the component manufacturer. The final complete data package sent to the assembler includes drawings, specifications, requirements, ratings, a bill of materials, Gerber, and drill data, etc. 

DWM thus requires contributions and feedback from members of the team most familiar with the different documents of the data package. The designer should review preliminary Gerber and drill data with the fabricator to ensure the design is manufacturable. They should also discuss the bill of materials with the assembler to make certain that all components are available for purchase. Each document of the data package should be reviewed by an expert in the corresponding process.

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

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