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Observations of Applying DFM(A) in MW Mechanics

and Sheet Metal Work

Mika Lohtander, Harri Eskelinen, Juha Varis
Lappeenranta University of Technology
Lappeenranta, Finland

AbstractIn this paper, approaches to apply DFM(A) (Design for Integrated DFM(A) approaches aiming to control and
Manufacturing and Assembly) in practice are reviewed based on manage both the product design process and its costs
both the research results of the areas of MW mechanics and sheet
metal work achieved at Lappeenranta University of Technology. It is interesting to notice that behind the faade of the
These results are supported by a literature review. In this paper, development of DFM(A) approaches also two main question
we present five view-points on how to apply DFM(A) in practise have been presented: 1) how to design a product for easy
in the previously mentioned research areas. The view-points are manufacturing and 2) how to develop manufacturing
as follows: applied DFM(A) rules for sheet metal work, technology for easy production. At LUT, scientific research
utilization of lists and forms to analyze MW constructions, dealing with DFM(A) approaches in MW mechanics and sheet
development of traditional design methodologies, development of metal work has been carried out to answer both of these
manufacturing technologies for easy production, integrated questions. The main observations supported by a literature
DFM(A) approaches which aim to control and manage both the review are presented in the following sections.
product design process and its costs.

Keywords- DFM(A); (CE )Concurrent Engineering; II. APPLIED DFM(A) RULES FOR SHEET METAL WORK
manufacturability; sheet metal; design rules The following observations of LUT focus on sheet metal
work. When the viewpoints related to sheet metal work are
I. RESEARCH examined in general, we discover that there are a large number
of different individual design rules as well as actions aiming at
New challenges in aiming towards easy manufacturing and
improving the manufacturability of individual products [16]. In
assembly have emerged due to the fast development of new
addition to this, it is widely known that significant investments
materials, e.g. ceramics, composites, and nanomaterials and
have been made to develop design methods to increase the
also training in mechanical engineering and assembly [1]. Also
speed at which a product becomes ready to be manufactured.
business-oriented aspects have been integrated with DFM(A)-
As well as scientific literature, there are a large number of
(Design For manufacturing and Assembly) aspects. This has
commercial brochures and instructions available with the aim
led to DFM(A) approaches which aim to control and manage
of improving the productivity of sheet metal machinery.
both the product design process and its costs simultaneously.
Examples of them include Mate-tools, Finn-Power, Amada and
Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) has focused LVD.
on studying manufacturability and DFM(A) aspects for
If we continue to consider the study area from the point of
decades, and results presented in this paper are derived from
view of scientific research, we discover that there is an
that scientific background [2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7]. Within
abundance of mathematical methods for optimisation and
DFM(A) research, the engineering design and
calculation related to it. No literature search has been
manufacturability of sheet metal products has gained an
conducted in this field, nor is it otherwise discussed in this
important role [8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15]. In this
study. It can be noted that mathematicians have made efforts to
paper, the main approaches to apply DFM(A) to practice are
create various optimisation algorithms and strive to develop
divided into the following five groups based on the results
them further. Similarly, the use of computer-aided methods has
obtained in LUTs DFM(A) research projects:
grown, making it possible to implement many different
Applied DFM(A) rules for sheet metal work measures related to production using various computer-aided
Utilization of lists and forms to analyze MW (Micro
Wave) constructions A. Problem Solving with CAE
Development of traditional design methodologies Companies responsible for design make use of CAD
(Computer Aided Design), CAM (Computer Aided
Development of manufacturing technologies for easy Manufacturing) and CAE (Computer Aided Engineering)
production systems that are extremely versatile and whose functionality is
top class. However, these systems together cannot take into benders. The next category of bent sheet metal parts consists of
account various manufacturing technology viewpoints, and non-linear bends. These refer to parts in which the bending line
thus it remains the task of the designer to estimate them. reproduces the arched shape of the parts bottom. The third
Thereby, the key question invariably remains this: How can a category in bent parts consists of spatial parts whose bending
designer observe and know the manufacturers plant and lines are depicted as 3D arcs. According to the classification by
equipment for sheet metal parts, the tools and production Greska et al. [18], deep drawn parts also have three different
resources available, or how one product can be designed to be categories, which include bent parts with straight bending axes,
easily adaptable to production by different device resources? bent parts with crooked bending axes and flat deep drawing
The engineering design of mechanical products, such as the parts.
CAD-based design of sheet metal parts, is technically easy.
This technical ease of design, however, causes problems in the According to the reviewed literature in this section the
manufacturability of sheet metal parts in deplorably many solution is to put together different kinds of shapes and
cases. It is always important in the engineering design phase to manufacturing process capabilities using for example design
take into account the manufacturing techniques which will be and manufacturing features. At present, this is not possible
used to produce the product and to consider the consequences because there is no formal description of sheet metal
the choice of a particular technique will have. For this reason, manufacturing processes or classification between design and
engineering designers must have either a sufficient amount of manufacturing features.
experience or assisting systems to make the product as
manufacture-friendly as possible. [13] III. UTILIZATION OF LISTS AND RORMS TO ANALYZE MW
In the manufacturing metal industry, the classification of
production can be based, for example, on forms [17], [18] that Probably the most traditional way to analyze the assembly
are analogous and consist of the same elements, i.e. features. aspects of a construction is to measure and summarize time
By making good use of this information, unnecessary and intervals used for each manufacturing and assembly stage. By
multiple work can be avoided both in the design phase and in writing the results into e.g. an Excel-based table it is
production. Furthermore, according to [17] and some later convenient way to find targets for further development of a
studies [18] [19], a systematic classification facilitates co- construction and suggest some improvements.
operation between design and production because they then Another question is, how to evaluate if the DFM(A) design
share common factors. Lanz [20], van Holland [21] and van der rules were obeyed or not. The utilization of various types of
Net [22] have classified elements required in, for example, lists and forms to describe and analyze the properties of the
assembly in manufacturing. Thus, the modelling tree familiar construction for easy assembly is basically an evaluation table.
from CAD software can be used as the basis of classification. Typically, manufacturability aspects are presented as items
Furthermore, the designed shapes can be divided into either in rows or columns of this table, which aims to score
production-technical features [16], and deductions can be made how many difficult parts of assembly stages the construction
based on the forms [19] which allow us to use this information includes. One shortened example of this type of evaluation
in production planning. table made by the authors is presented in Table 1. The analysis
For example, the shapes of sheet metal products can be starts by listing parts in the order they are assembled. The
divided in several ways. One such means of classification to second step is to note and mark the design rules that are
divide bent and formed parts has been presented by Greska violated in each step. Then the total number of boxes noted is
[18]. This classification divides sheet metal bending and calculated and the result is filled in the score column. Also
moulding further into three subclasses by their main method. some product maintenance design rules are checked at this
The parts to be bent may have straight bendings which, placed stage. The fourth step is to note product maintenance design
in a modern production environment, means forming them with rules violated.
press brakes, automatic bending machines and automatic


List of parts 1N
Tool required

High joining

Need leads,

Needs pilot


to be assembled
Spring or






Part 1:
Part 2:
Part N:
Sub-score (parts to be assembled)
Product Access ports and test points not labeled
Maintenance Difficult access to key maintenance areas
Cannot see display while adjusting
Overall score
Finally, the overall score is calculated. One serious problem process proceeds, and it is difficult to execute many of its small
with the use of these types of evaluation tables is that they do steps concurrently.
evaluate the assembly aspects, but the feedback to design is not
guaranteed. B. Shortcomings of Concurrent Engineering Design
A practical example of LUTs MW research on how to Researchers have currently no common view of the most
utilize forms or questionnaires to ease the manufacturing of important aspects within concurrent engineering (CE) design,
MW filter designs is presented by the authors [2] (Table 2). and this leads to different emphases in the treatment of the
The questionnaire helps to establish the tolerance and surface topic. According to literature [23], process management is the
roughness requirements of a microwave filter and to decide most important of the CE processes. According to Asiedu and
what types of tools and production technology fit the Gu [24], the point of view of the life cycle cost (LCC) is the
requirements. For example, the required Ra equals 0.8 m and most important in concurrent engineering, and therefore,
the dimensional tolerance grade is at least IT 5 if the operating designers need LCC analysis to support their decision-making.
frequency of the MW filter is 500 GHz. However, the Hoffman [25] points out the meaning of quality product-
manufacturability aspects of the filter construction described in oriented decision making during the CE process. Portioli and
Table 2 would be difficult to achieve. The manufacturability Singh [26] claim that when using CE, too little attention has
rules are over-ruled by the functional requirements of the filter. been given to production management issues. According to
However, according to the results achieved at LUT, the Portioli and Singh, the focus has been too much on process
appropriate manufacturing solutions and required tooling could design. Stahl [27] suggest that there is a lack of methods
be collected in the columns of Table 2. supporting the planning of production systems when using CE.
Brookes and Backhouse [28] present that the most important
challenge in widening the use of CE is understanding how to
tailor the concept to suit different companies. Duffy and
Salvendy [29] suggest that the proximity of team members is

confirmed as a key to success in CE. According to Willaert




[30], CE, in principal, is more a management and engineering


philosophy to conquer the market pressure than a design tool.


300-600 0.8 m IT 5 C. Suggested Improvements to Traditional Design

Perpendicular charts

150-300 1.6 m IT 6 Methodologies

precision casting
Milling or high

75-150 3.2 m IT 7
35-75 6.4 m IT 8 To handle these problems which might take place if the
15-35 12.8 m IT 9-10 principles of the systematic design approach or CE are
followed to the word, several efforts have been made during
the past decades. At least the use of specialized tolerance
analysis, support from virtual prototyping or reversed
engineering, the utilization of integrated product teams and the
IV. DEVELOPMENT OF TRADITIONAL DESIGN development of collaborative-concurrent design etc. have been
LUTs DFM(A) research has revealed a few aspects of Different studies support the use of tolerance analysis in
traditional design methodologies that require development. In DFM by presenting various models for the designers to define
this section, we present a brief literature review which supports the rules to choose the appropriate tolerances [31]. Also the
the authors ideas on how to improve the most common design principles for modular design as a part of DFM are dealt with
methodologies to fit better with DFM(A). One interesting area especially from the point of view of functional modules. The
in the field of developing DFM(A) is the criticism against authors suggest two solutions to solve this problem: either
some traditional design methodologies. Probably most of the stating design rules or using mathematical what-if models to
arguments were presented against VDIs systematic approach set tolerances concurrently, choose processes and take into
during the 1980s and 1990s. consideration capacity constraints.
One effective tool to improve the possibilities of DFM is
A. Shortcomints of Systematic Design Approach the use of integrated product teams (IPT). As an additional
In the systematic design approach, according to the VDI aspect to IPT, from the point of view of process planning a
2221 standard, the functional design of a product and its multi-disciplinary team work environment is presented by
modular construction are followed by the documentation for Medhat and Rook [32] to be integrated with the strategy of CE.
manufacturing and assembly. Because these two stages are not
parallel, it is possible that the designer does not give enough Gavankar and Rao [33] have presented an outlined
attention to manufacturing aspects during modularization. framework based on fuzzy cognitive maps to couple design
According to Miller, VDI 2221 [23] is good for inexperienced features with manufacturing constraints. The framework will
designers, and produces gradually improving designs. Miller make a design easier to manufacture.
underlines that its primary disadvantages are that it tends to The literature review presented in this section can be
have a result which comes from compromises occurring as the summarized into the following solutions to improve the
methodological content of DFM(A): (1) variant-based VI. INTEGRATED DFM(A) APPROACHES WHICH AIM TO
concurrent engineering would improve the utilization of VDI CONTROL AND MANAGE BOTH THE PRODUCT DESIGN PROCESS
2221, (2) an efficient CE process should include LCC analysis AND ITS COSTS
and production management issues, and (3) such detailed
In this paper, the authors analyze the integrated DFM(A)
improvements as tolerance analysis and the use of IPTs would
approaches based on a brief literature review.
make DFM(A) more effective.
CAD systems focus more on the management of geometric
At LUT, these solutions have proven to be accurate when
data, whereas CAM systems concentrate on describing
designing MW components.
production process-specific properties, such as those presented
by, for example, [36], [37] and [38]. On the other hand,
V. DEVELOPMENT OF MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES according to Lee [39], CAD models cannot be used directly in
FOR EASY PRODUCTION FE analysis, for example, because they often require an
Traditionally, the manufacturing industry has attempted to abstracted model, whereas CAD models are detailed solid
improve manufacturability by increasing and developing models.
automatic process control equipment [34]. In many cases, The rule-based analyzing system concerning production is
however, increased automation leads to a kind of saturation the earliest method of treating manufacturing data [16]. Most
point where flexibility is lost. In many cases, increased often these rules are IFTHEN clauses based on a certain
automation also denotes large investments whose profitability hierarchy. Ramanas [16] article also presents some
is not always guaranteed. Consequently, many companies have instructions on the design of sheet metal products. In addition,
adapted a method that is called DFM(A). By means of this the article introduces a system which is intended as a low-cost
method, a product can be altered and designed from the assisting system that can be applied and developed according
beginning to be as manufacture-friendly as possible. In to different needs.
principle, it allows designers to increase productivity without
further investments. The foundation of a DFM(A) project is to According to Lutters [40], a simple integration of
avoid the known drawbacks of a product and its manufacture. manufacturing processes in connection with a life cycle model
Instead, the manufacturing problems already known are set is insufficient to attain true integration in product development.
aside with no attempts to solve them, and the product is For this reason, the main attention should be focused on the
designed in such a way that these drawbacks are avoided [34]. information that is used and created in manufacturing
processes. If all of the information from separate processes
By using the tools and key elements of a DFM(A) project, could be made visible throughout the development project, it
the process can be accelerated from product design to finished could be used to control entire manufacturing chains. In order
goods and on to be marketed. With these tools, designers can to gain the full benefit of the new, modified role of product
collaborate with the rest of the organization and arrive at an development, respect and the right attitude towards
objective decision which strikes a balance between product manufacturing processes is required. The key starting point of
design and manufacturability [35]. the [40] study is that the stages of the manufacturing process
DFM(A) is commonly used for three purposes: (1) as function as instruments throughout the production chain. This
instruments in concurrent engineering facilitating the means that the manufacturing processes should be seen as
simplification of product structures and productivity and generically as possible.
establishing the necessary improvements, (2) as a If the descriptions of the common systems required in
benchmarking tool facilitating the investigation of competitors manufacturing can be defined at an adequate level, each part
products and establishing the problems of manufacture and can be considered an independent module and each can
assembly and (3) assisting in determining the products price, perform its own task without being tied to the sequence of the
making it possible to use the information in delivery price system. Following this, each module must be able to develop at
negotiations. its own pace, and this development should be independent of
In the 2000s, the interest in research on individual DFX the content of other modules. As a result, the interfaces and
methods has abated from the 1990s. A probable reason for this data exchange of the modules should be arranged so that new
is that at this moment, interest is directed at finding solutions properties within each module can be brought into use
for effectively describing and developing the functions of the independently.
product life cycle. At present, terminology such as engineering According to Ramana [16], the analyzing methods of
design knowledge, managing knowledge on manufacturing, automated manufacture allow designers to analyze
integrated design knowledge and product-service manufacturability as part of the CAD system. There are two
environment are widely in use. types of systems: rule-based and plan-based. In the former,
The solution to the problems and open questions described rules are used to control processability with the help of direct
in this section is, according to the authors of this paper, that an instructions. The purpose of the latter is to examine the whole
overall picture and full understanding of the meaning of the production chain. Evaluation systems can also be classified
target, the product itself and the manufacturing process must be into three systems: (1) manufacturing verification (2)
correctly constructed. manufacturability quantification and (3) manufacturability
optimization. The first system tells us whether the form or
product is manufacturable in the first place. The inspection is
performed using attributes, which makes it possible to make Scientific research carried out at LUT has verified these
the necessary changes. In the second system, establishing observations [15].
manufacturability is usually based on quality, time and costs. Knowledge engineering

And in the third, the optimization of manufacturability often Knowledge setup interface (wiki)
involves the optimization of time and costs. Most of the
previously conducted research has focused on developing just
one evaluation system. Part
Mfg time
and cost
data model
model process

Based on previous studies, Ramana [16] has listed some of

data Knowledge Base

the most important classification principles in sheet metal CAD


design. The article provides instructions in support of design.

model selection

The traditional way to examine the manufacturability of a Feedback


product has involved a great deal of manual calculations and User interface

decisions which have usually been made in accordance with

experience or practical situations without any software or
computers. Designers, production planners and mould Figure 1. Qualitative and quantitative analysis is needed for solving
designers have also spent a great deal of time making various manufacturing issues in a digital framework [43],[15].
calculations and decisions before achieving a functioning
model. Manual operations take a considerable amount of time
and very rarely guarantee an optimal result. For this reason, VII. CONCLUSION
Kumar [41] states that there should be a low-cost and easy to In the opinion of the authors of this paper, it seems that CE
use knowledge-based system with which to provide industrial in its traditional format could be seen more as a summary of
designers with intelligent instructions. This could be best practices in product development than the adoption of a
implemented, for example, with AutoCAD using the AutoLISP radically new set of ideas for improving DFM(A) aspects.
language. Kumar considers a system such as this user-friendly.
The feedback the system provides includes recommendations The main DFM(A) observations dealing with MW
which the manufacturing process requires. The system is mechanics are according to LUTs experts as follows:
flexible and, according to [41], can be expanded to suit new Questionnaires are useful if they are tuned to fit the
methods, or tailored factory-specifically. specific operation frequency range.
According to Streppel [42], comprehensive integration
Both the systematic design approach and concurrent
would also provide feedback for complementing the product
engineering design can be tuned better to fit an MW
through the standpoints of the DFM process. In practice, this
mechanics design if tuned evaluation tables for easy
would mean that a designer could provide descriptions of the
assembly are applied.
products functionality and use this information in eliminating
potential manufacturing methods. Finally, the system would The main DFM(A) observation dealing with sheet metal
suggest a part that corresponds to the minimum requirements work are according to LUTs experts as follows:
based on the constraints of potential manufacturing methods. In
such a case, the system could, in principle, report the reason To improve DFM(A), advanced feature based
why the opening is where it is. modeling should be utilized.

Figure 1 presents a system adapted from Zhaos view [43], The future challenge is how to construct a formal
where knowledge required in production is collected into description of sheet metal manufacturing processes; in other
databases. By combining knowledge about the part with words, how to classify design and manufacturing features
resource data using a qualitative and quantitative analysis, it is unambiguously.
possible to present the necessary information for the
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