DfM, DfA & DfMA – What’s the Difference?

September 19, 2019
DfM, DfA & DfMA – What’s the Difference?

In today’s competitive landscape, contract manufacturers (CMs) need to do more than just fill orders that meet product specs. Top-tier CMs work with their OEM partners to ensure that everyone is on the same page and aligned to produce the best outcomes — from the engineers and designers to materials specialists and those working on the shop floor.

Opportunities for improving a final product abound, but it requires a DfMA approach — a combination of Design for Manufacturing (DfM) and Design for Assembly (DfA). How are they related and how do they differ? More importantly, how can deploying a DfMA philosophy get you the results you need? Watch the video to learn more.



Albert Einstein once said, “The best design is the simplest one that works.”

It’s critical to examine a product prior to and during manufacturing to look for opportunities for improvement. These improvements are often put into two buckets: DfM (which is Design for Manufacturing) and DfA (or Design for Assembly).

DfM and DfA are different, though they share several attributes. Together, they form DfMA, or Design for Manufacturing and Assembly – a set of guidelines developed to ensure that a product is designed and revised so that it can be easily and efficiently manufactured and assembled with a minimum of effort, time and cost. It also has a positive effect on product quality.

DfA by itself revolves around simplifying the product structure, since the total number of parts in a product is a key indicator of design quality; fewer parts result in a more efficiently assembled product. DfA also examines the parts for ease of assembly, using keyed parts or things that can only go together in a correct orientation. At an individual part level, DfA also looks to ease the handling of parts during assembly and examines size, weight, ease of dispensing, fragility and flexibility.

DfM concentrates on minimizing the complexity of manufacturing operations. DfM looks more deeply into the cost of fabricating individual components. Reducing the features on a machined component, for example, will make it less expensive, increase quality and lend itself to further DfA activities. Like DfA, DfM also works to ensure a smooth transfer from prototyping to manufacturing.

When these two philosophies are combined to form DfMA, dialogue between designers and the manufacturing engineers is inherently encouraged. This means that teamwork is improved and the benefits of simultaneous or concurrent engineering can be achieved. Additional benefits include lower cost, increased reliability and a shorter time to market once the first revision of a product is ready.

Other aspects of product design that are core to DfMA include incorporating a modular design, the favoring of standard parts over custom parts, and designing parts that are multi-functional and economical to fabricate. Both philosophies also encourage the elimination of as many as possible of the fasteners, further reducing component cost and manufacturing time.

With the wealth of benefits of DfMA, it’s critical that you engage a contract manufacturer that understands the value of these philosophies and incorporates them into its standard processes. Whether you plan to transfer a product as built-to-print or have engaged a manufacturer early in pre-production, the long-term value of DfMA activities will reap benefits over the complete lifecycle of your  product.

Choosing a supplier with an active DfMA culture will make things easier, faster and less expensive. At GMI, we think about these things every day and we have a robust group of technical minds that have been assembled to drive these benefits into all of our OEM customers’ products. It’s what we love doing and it’s in our collective DNA.

Work with the DfMA experts at GMI Solutions to not only serve as a trusted contract manufacturer, but to truly partner with you to improve your products and your bottom line. Simply click the link below.

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