How Important is DFMA for PCBs

In this highly competitive market, where OEMs continually develop new products for widening their customer base, they must also remain vigilant about the quality of their products. Properly planning is necessary before they can develop high quality products in less time at lower production costs, which ultimately translates into more sales and greater customer loyalty. Design for manufacturing and assembly (DFMA) is an important step in this direction, and Rush PCB offers simple guidelines for their customers to follow for PCBs.

Why Design for Manufacturing and Assembly

One of the most important advantages of following the DFMA methodology is reduction of the time-to-market. By eliminating multiple revisions and design changes that typically occur during PCB design, DFMA techniques help produce designs that are more comprehensive and efficient to produce, while being able to meet the customers’ requirements the first time. In turn, a shorter time-to-market results in lowering the development costs. By applying DFMA methods for PCBs, our customers can:

  • Shorten PCB assembly times
  • Lower PCB assembly costs
  • Eliminate process waste
  • Increase PCB reliability

Performing Design for Manufacturing and Assembly

Rush PCB recommends integrating the DFMA methods through design and manufacturing teamwork. In practice, two different classifications make up DFMA—DFM or Design for manufacturing, and DFA or Design for assembly—with slightly different goals for each.

The techniques of DFM focus more on reducing or eliminating expensive, unnecessary, and complex features, which would make them difficult to manufacture.

The techniques of DFA focus on standardization and reduction of parts, sub-assemblies, and assemblies, with the aim of reducing the assembly time and cost.

Rush PCB recommends integrating DFM and DFA into DFMA, as combining them prevents one from causing negative effects on the other. For instance, the designer may be able to reduce assembly steps by combining parts. However, if the part is difficult or expensive to manufacture, the process will not produce any gain. The goal must be to work together to:

  • Simplify the PCB design
  • Design the PCB for ease of fabrication
  • Design within known process capabilities
  • Use common parts and materials
  • Mistake proof the design for assembly
  • Design the PCB for ease of assembly
  • Reduce flexible parts and interconnections
  • Design PCB for automation

Simplifying the PCB Design

Boards with a complicated contour take more time to fabricate, and therefore, introduce extra cost. Rush PCB recommends designers should follow simple contours for their boards, unless necessary.

Design the PCB for Ease of Fabrication

Fitting an electronic circuit within a small board may require fabricating it in multiple layers to allow accommodating all interconnections between on-board components. However, this may increase the complexity of fabricating the board as interconnecting multiple layers may require introduction of vias, and therefore, additional steps during fabrication.

Designing Within known Process Capabilities

Rush PCB strongly recommends early discussions with the fabricator if the designer is contemplating incorporating special features in the PCB. A mismatch of process capabilities at the fabricator with the designer’s requirements will lead to a time loss.

Using Common Parts and Materials

Unless required by the application, Rush PCB recommends designers to use commonly available parts and materials for their PCBs. For instance, metal backed PCBs are more expensive than regular PCBs, and designers should use metal backed PCBs only when they need heat removal from components on the board.

Mistake Proof the Design for Assembly

Rush PCB recommends designers should follow best practices for making their boards mistake proof during assembly. This involves using proper orientation and labels for diode and LED orientation, as a simple example.

Design the PCB for Ease of Assembly

Consulting with the assembler regarding the tools and equipment they will use for assembly is an important step the designer must consider beforehand. It is important the designer avoids multiple reorientation or set-ups during the assembly process, as this creates wasted movements and time. Moreover, it is important to allow for adequate tool clearance with no obstruction to tool movement.

Read About: PCB Assembly Fabrication Methods

Reduce Flexible Parts and Interconnections

Considering the usage and environment in which the PCB must operate, the designer must use components parts robust enough to the application. For instance, a designer must avoid using fragile ribbon cables that could become brittle over time and break with vibration.

Designing PCBs for Automation

Although cost-effective for low volumes of production, manual assembly is a time-consuming and error-prone process for larger quantities of production. Designing the PCB for automated assembly processes not only reduces assembly time, but also reworking costs.


The steps presented above for designers to follow for implementing DFMA is only for representation, and Rush PCB recommends designers to explore more about the methodology by visiting our website and or calling us. Rush PCB has personnel who are experienced and customers can get all guidance for their requirements.