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What is Design For Manufacturing (DFM)?

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Consider this: around 70% of the manufacturing costs of a product can be derived from design decisions like materials and manufacturing methods—while the other 30% of the costs make up production decisions like process planning and tool selection. In this article, we will explore the concept of Design for Manufacturing (DFM), a strategic approach focused on optimizing these design and production decisions to guarantee both manufacturability and quality while keeping costs at a minimum. This article covers:


  • What is DFM?
  • 5 principles of DFM
  • Why is DFM important?
  • 9 outcome of an effective DFM
  • How to successfully implement DFM
  • DFM tips and rules for injection moulding design
  • How long does it take to do a DFM check?
  • Free DFM with HLH Rapid


What is Design For Manufacturing (DFM)?

Design for Manufacturability (DFM) is the engineering practice and process that focus on optimising the design of products or parts to make them easier with an end goal of making a better product at a lower cost. Adopting a DFM mindset ensures the materials and components are compatible and easily accessible throughout production. It also helps businesses speed up the product development process, which, in turn, speeds up the product launch.


The 5 Principles of DFM

The DFM process adheres to 5 key principles or set of guidelines: (1) Process, (2) Design, (3) Material, (4) Environment, (5) Testing. This section explains all five principles.


1. Process: Choosing a manufacturing method for your product. Analysing the process by which each part is made can lead to simpler setups and operations to reduce part cost. Well-designed parts should be optimized for their manufacturing process.

2. Design: The more complex the design, the higher the risk. Keep your designs simple. This is in terms of cost, manufacturing, assembly, use, and maintenance. Simplifying your design cuts down on the time and inventory needed to make your product, which correlates to its cost.

3. Material: Choosing the right materials in the early stages can save you time and money. Your choice of materials can impact your cost, part quality, and manufacturing method. Consider these points: What properties does your part require? How many cycles should it last? Are there any weight requirements?

4. Environment: Each part of your product must be designed for the environment it will be used in. You must take every operating condition into account. All parts of the product must be able to perform in these conditions.

5. Testing: Lastly, make sure to do proper and thorough testing. Ensure the product and its components comply with all industry standards. These standards can be industry, internal, or company standards, and must be considered in all stages of DFM.


Why is DFM important?

DFM plays a significant role in the success of a product in the market. Especially when it comes to tooling and injection moulding, DFM analysis is crucial for ensuring efficient production and high-quality components by optimizing the design for manufacturing and assembly.


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9 Outcome of an Effective DFM

Successful DFM analysis minimizes cost while retaining – or even increasing – the performance of a part or product, along with other long-term benefits. Here are the nine key benefits of DFM:


  • Cost Reduction (increased profits): By designing products that require fewer raw materials, less energy, and less steps or time to manufacture, DFM can reduce costs and increase profit margins.
  • Shorter Time to Market: By applying DFM principles, you can avoid common pitfalls that can delay your product launch and streamline your product development process.
  • Improved Product Quality: DFM aims to remove design features that are prone to manufacturing defects. By simplifying the design and minimising complex assembly steps, DFM can lead to higher product quality and reliability.
  • Enhanced Product Performance: DFM can lead to better product performance by optimising design features, materials selection, and manufacturing processes. This can result in products that meet or exceed customer expectations.
  • Reduced Scrap and Waste: By designing products for manufacturability reduces the likelihood of manufacturing errors and defects, which reduces scrap and waste during production. DFM not only saves money but also contributes to a more sustainable manufacturing process.
  • Competitive Advantage: By offering products with lower costs, better quality and quicker delivery time, DFM can give organisations a competitive edge in the market.
  • Streamline Production Scale-Up: The struggle of hardware development comes from scaling from prototype to production. Using rapid prototyping techniques and considering DFM from the beginning of the product development cycle ensures that the product meets design expectations and is ready for the manufacturing line.
  • Enhanced Innovation: DFM encourages creative problem-solving during the design process, which can result in innovative solutions that can differentiate a product in the marketplace.
  • Regulatory Compliance: DFM helps ensure that products meet regulatory and safety standards early in the design stage. This reduces the risk of costly redesigns or recalls later in the product lifecycle.

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How to Successfully Implement DFM

Here are the 3 key considerations for successful DFM implementation:


Start As Early As Possible

Ideally, DFM analysis needs to occur early in the design process, well before tooling has begun. Early collaboration between designers, engineers, and manufacturers also ensures that all aspects of the product lifecycle are considered. Good DFM then needs to be quickly followed up with effective communication for successful timeline execution.


Rapid Prototype and Test

Utilize rapid prototyping to refine designs iteratively and create a more robust final product. A big part of successful DFM involves fathering feedback from prototypes and initial production runs to make necessary design adjustments. Today, simulation softwares are also increasingly being employed to analyze and optimize the injection moulding process.


Identify opportunities for DFM techniques

Follow established Design for Manufacturing (DFM) guidelines to ensure the manufacturability of your design. This includes following recommended wall thickness, draft angles, parting lines, gating choice, etc., to optimize your part and minimize the risk of defects. Also, closely work with your designers and mould manufacturers to identify wastage in manufacturing and provide suggestions for more efficient and sustainable alternatives.


DFM Tips and Rules for Injection Moulding Design

Applying DFM to plastic injection moulding can be challenging because there are many different types of plastic resins with particular mechanical and chemical properties. Designers, therefore, need to work within the limitations of the resin as well as the material used to make the mould tool. Here are some DFM tips and rules for designing better moulded parts:


Material Selection:

  • Choose the right thermoplastic material based on your specific requirements, including strength, temperature resistance, chemical resistance, and cost.
  • Consider the material’s shrinkage rate during cooling to avoid issues like warping and dimensional inaccuracies.

Wall Thickness:

  • Maintain consistent wall thickness throughout the part to ensure consistent cooling and minimize the risk of defects like warping and sink marks.
  • Design wall thickness according to resin choice – generally, staying within a 1.2–3.0mm thickness is safe for most materials.

Draft Angles:

  • Increase draft angles for rough surface textures.
  • The draft angle may need to be adjusted based on the type of resin, any fillers used in the resin, and the mould steel.

Ribs and Gussets:


  • A boss is a relatively large mass of plastic resin. Whenever there is such a mass, it will be the focus of thermal stress as this area cools after injection.
  • Ensure that bosses have adequate thickness and support to withstand assembly stresses.

Gating and Runner System:

Ejector Pins:

  • Place ejector pins and knockout pins carefully to avoid part damage during ejection.
  • Ensure that they do not interfere with critical part features.

Surface Finish:

  • Understand the impact of SPI finish and grain on the part’s appearance and functionality.
  • Deciding on a finish based on criticality can save costs. It’s about balancing durability with cost-effectiveness.


  • The tighter the tolerance, the higher the tooling and production costs.
  • Specify appropriate tolerances for critical dimensions to maintain part functionality while minimizing manufacturing costs.

Assembly Considerations:

  • Design parts with features like snap fits, living hinges, and self-locking mechanisms to reduce the need for additional assembly components.
  • Symmetrical design, or clear guiding features for asymmetrical parts, aids in assembly.


How Long Does It Take To Do A DFM check?

It really depends on the quality of the design you start with. If the design is clean and no major issues are found, DFM feedback for tooling and injection moulding projects usually takes 1-2 days. But depending on the design complexity, number of questions, thoroughness of the answers, and how quickly both parties (manufacturer and client) are able to come to an agreement, you might be waiting a week or more. Once the design is deemed manufacturable and ready for the next step, tooling production will begin immediately.

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Injection Moulding and Free DFM With HLH Rapid

Submit your 2D and 3D CAD drawings to our site contact form along with your injection moulding project details and our engineering team will get back with a quote and thorough DFM prior to order.

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