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Why DFM is an important aspect of the PCB Design Process

Imagine going through the final stages in delivering your product to market, when you come to find errors in the fabrication or assembly process. You then begin to think of all the things that could have gone wrong—was it my PCB layout? Was it the materials used? Were my prototypes different from my original manufacturing files? DFM analysis software can help solve these problems. The term “DFM” stands for “Design for Manufacturability.” This process compiles PCB layout topology to reduce problems that can be encountered during the PCB fabrication and assembly processes required to manufacture an electronic system. Without DFM analysis software, determining if the problem is manufacturing or design related becomes an expensive guessing game.

 

But My Manufacturer Handles DFM, That’s Enough Right?

Often design teams look at DFM as a “manufacturing problem” and something handled by their contract manufacturers or downstream partners. In fact, many manufacturers will perform DFM analysis prior to production to identify and fix issues. Where this process tends to fall apart is manufacturers often do not share any changes they made back to the design team and changes made are done without a full understanding of the design and its performance / electrical requirements.  The results can be devastating when a design team then sends what they think is the spec for the previously manufactured board off for a new rev, a new production line, or second source partner and soon realizes the PCB fails in some, most, or all of the finished devices.  Performing your own analysis prior to the prototype could have detected those same issues and altered them in engineering, allowing you to incorporate the changes into the PCB design where they belong. Doing so would have lowered the cost, maintained design intent, and ensured follow-on builds also work correctly.
 
Integrated DFM Software for Design Teams

With DFM software you can detect errors that would normally go undetected and result in the rework of the design, or a total scrap of the product. The most typical DFM issues that pass detection in the CAD system, but result in PCB failures when manufacturing are: Starved Thermals, Acid Traps, Slivers, Insufficient Annular Ring, along with a few others. Having capabilities such as fabrication analysis in your DFM software is vital in detecting these errors, which is one of the many features OrCAD DFM Checker supplies. OrCAD DFM Checker provides an all-inclusive, easy-to-use PCB Manufacturing analysis technology which identifies specific design issues that could have detrimental consequences on PCB fabrication. OrCAD DFM Checker caters to the DFM focused capabilities needed to reduce scrap, increase yield, and prevent costly time to market setbacks. A few capabilities are Rule-Set-Drive, PCB Assembly Analysis, Fabrication Analysis, Error Charting, and is also integrated within OrCAD PCB Editor.
 
Know Before You Build
Thankfully, due to advances in technology and better understanding of manufacturing processes DFM tools are now more readily available in the market. By identifying manufacturing errors prior to production, you save time and money. Having DFM Analysis Software ensures your design not only electrically performs as intended, but can also successfully be manufactured in high volumes without increasing cost or risk.
 
For more information on OrCAD DFM Checker, click here.