The concept of “design for manufacturability” (DFM) is something we talk about quite a lot in the metal fabrication industry. However, “design for assembly” (DFA) is just as important, if not as well-known. Starting in the 1960s, designers and engineers began to experiment with different rules around what would eventually evolve into modern DFA standards. However, it wasn’t until 1977 that the modern design for assembly method began to gain real traction, when UMass professor Geoffrey Boothroyd developed three basic criteria that in 1981 he expanded upon with Dr. Peter Dewhurst and introduced to the manufacturing world, which can be summarized as follows:
- Does the part move with respect to other parts already assembled?
- Must the part be made of a different material or be isolated from all other parts already assembled?
- Must the part be separate from all other parts already assembled because necessary assembly or disassembly would otherwise be impossible?
In the 80s and 90s, GE Hitachi also took up the design for assembly cause (relabeling it Assembly Evaluation Method or AEM) as did Westinghouse and several others, but all methods, regardless of origin, are now referred to as DFA.
How do industrial designers and engineers utilize design for assembly principles in sheet metal fabrication projects?
So, what is Design for Assembly-focused metal fabrication? When a product is designed from the start with its eventual assembly in mind, it means that it has been optimized to take into consideration all aspects of how an item fits together and how it will affect the overall manufacturing process. This, in turn, will help keep costs down by minimizing both material waste and waste that is the result of lost time.
Some questions industrial designers and industrial engineers must ask themselves as part of the design for assembly process include:
- How will the product be assembled (by machine or by hand)?
- Is the product one that stands alone or will it be integrated into a larger assembly?
- Will the product still function even if it is assembled incorrectly?
- How can the number of parts in the product be minimized to decrease the chances of incorrect assembly and keep costs/waste down?
- Are there ways to design the component pieces so that they are easier to manipulate and therefore makes assembly faster/easier?
EVS Metal’s designers and engineers take Design for Assembly standards and criteria into consideration from the very start of every project. This ensures that we are able to decrease waste across the board, resulting in cost savings for EVS that we are then able to pass down to our customers.
Want to learn more about how EVS’s focus on design for assembly can help you with your next metal fab project? Get a fabrication quote online, or call us at 1-888-9EVSMET.