Proliferation of New Manufacturing Technologies Challenges Design for Manufacturability
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can easily feel like a kid in a candy store with so many recently developed manufacturing technologies to choose from. There’s flex boards, rigid flex hybrids, chip on board, embedded components, low temperature co-fired ceramic, to name a few. Each of these technologies offers its own unique mix of functionality, cost, size, weight, delivery time and other benefits. So, it’s becoming increasingly common to use two or three or even more of these technologies in order to get the sugariest flavor – oops, I mean deliver the most market-shaking product.
But, just as eating a lot of candy can cause a stomach ache, using a mix of different manufacturing technologies creates the burden of checking the design against the unique design rule sets used by each and every technology and contract manufacturer involved in your product. The contract manufacturer normally changes the design to make it work for their process and sends it back to the OEM. But then it’s up to the OEM to reconcile and validate changes from multiple manufacturers. This reconciliation process normally takes place in the late stages of the product development cycle when changes can be very expensive and a mistake can cause the product to miss the market window.
Fortunately, help is on the way – and no it doesn’t require you to give up using all of those deliciously different manufacturing technologies. The solution I am proposing involves adopting a new generation of design for manufacturing tools that makes it possible to validate the design against the design rules of all technologies and manufacturers that will be involved with the product in the early stages of the product development process. The details are too involved for a short blog entry but I have written an article that you can read here to provide the full details on how validating the design early substantially reduces, and in some cases, eliminates the need for late-stage design for manufacturability changes.