Up to eighty percent of a final product's cost is determined by how it has been designed (with the rest typically being owed to overhead and capital costs). Naturally, it follows that reducing a product's cost at design time is of critical importance to producing a successful and cost competitive final product. Design for manufacture and assembly are a formal approach to examine a products components and assembly cost and provide for the reduction of a those costs before it is put into production. This article will begin with a general discussion of design for manufacture and design for assembly concepts and then this discussion will be continued in detail in subsequent entries, which will discuss specifics with regards to PCB design for manufacture and design for assembly. Finally, a final entry will conclude the series with a discussion of the most commonly seen PCB design issues.
Before continuing it is convenient to discuss how the term "design for manufacture" is used when speaking in more general terms and when discussing PCB manufacture more specifically. Design for manufacture and design for assembly can refer, in a general sense, to the simplification and optimization of a prototype or conceptual design in preparation for its manufacture. When those terms are used to discuss PCBs they are often meant imply a more direct examination of potential manufacturing issues. The first entry in this series will use the former definition as we discuss the concepts in a broad sense and the second and third will use the latter definition as we shift our focus to PCB manufacture and assembly.