How Optimising Product Design Can Drastically Reduce Your Manufacturing Costs

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Product creators are always looking to cut costs, but not at the expense of quality. There is so much focus on optimising processes, inventory management, looking for cheaper suppliers and so on. But did you know that product development determines up to 80% of the product cost? Therefore, it makes sense to start here when looking at reducing manufacturing costs as this has the highest impact of all manufacturing cost reduction strategies. This blog highlights some of the top techniques to consider for product cost optimisation. 

1. Material and Component Selection 

Material and component selection is probably one of your most significant expenses when it comes to the cost of making your product. Yet, you don’t want to reduce material costs at the expense of product quality. Don’t worry – our top tips will ensure that you save money on material costs while keeping your product quality up to par. 

Consider Mechanical Attributes and Aesthetics 

First and foremost, with any material selection, it is important to consider the mechanical properties of that material and how that material will match the design intent. The material you select must satisfy functional requirements, the objective of the design, yet be a cost-effective material. It can sometimes be a balancing act between the function, appearance of the material and the cost. Your goal is to find the lowest cost material that enables the product’s performance. So how is it that you do this? 

  1. Identify the design requirements – Clearly lay out the purpose and function of the product design. Identify the key mechanical material attributes that need to be satisfied to deliver the desired performance of that product. That way, you will be able to identify the key components that will make a successful product and will be the basis for creating your material selection criteria. The output of this exercise should be a draft CMF, a document that outlines the colour, material and finish.
  2. Identify & evaluate candidate materials – Assess the suitability of a range of candidate materials. KD goes through numerous testing and conducts a rigorous material evaluation to select the right materials for each and every part of the product. 
  3. Select materials – Select the materials that satisfy all the materials selection criteria at the lowest cost. At this point you have a confirmed CMF document that can be shared with manufacturers that can then fully understand what your actual requirements are.

Eliminate Unnecessary Product Features

More features translate into a better product for your users, right? Actually, in most cases, the answer is no – they won’t. 

This phenomenon is known as feature creep, a problem that crops up time and time again for many entrepreneurs. Adding excessive features to your product design not only increases cost and manufacturing complexity but also worsens the product usability.

You must determine what is important to your customers. That way, you can prioritise and select the elements that are not as important to reduce cost.

Another good way to prevent feature creep is to be aware of possible scope changes. Rather than reacting down the road, this will allow your team to proactively prevent needless feature additions.

2. Design for Excellence (DFx)

Design for excellence (DFx) consists of several standards for creating better quality products at the concept design phase. In turn, this leads to optimising your product cost. DFx can be as extensive as you need it to be (design for test, design for cost). In this section, we identify two different practices that together share the common objective in the DFx process: design for manufacturing (DFM) and design for assembly (DFA)

Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA)

Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) is the combination of two processes: DFM and DFA. While DFM focuses on selecting the most cost-effective processes and materials to be used in production and minimising the number of assembly operations, DFA is more concerned with reducing product assembly cost and minimising the number of assembly operations.

Using DFM and DFA in tandem ensures that your product is efficiently manufactured and assembled cost-effectively. Here are some of the top principles of DFMA that can help you to achieve product optimisation:

  • Reduce the number of parts – reducing the number of components and eliminating unnecessary features can minimise assembly cost and simplify automation processes.
  • Design for ease of part fabrication – minimise the manufacturing cost of your product by selecting the optimum combination between the material and fabrication process. 
  • Design for ease of assembly – a design is not complete without consideration for how each and every part is assembled, whether top down, bottom up or otherwise. Consideration for the number of operators required, number of assembly steps and the complexity of the defined process will dictate the assembly cost of your product.
  • Where possible a product should be designed with a base component for locating other parts quickly and accurately. 


Final Words

Employing best practice design for manufacturing as part of your product design is essential to its manufacturability and product cost optimisation. Our DFM services ensure your mechanical and electronic designs, product materials and assembly methods are feasible and optimised before spending money on tools.

KD Design For Manufacturing Solutions

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