Designing for Manufacturability (DFM) in Metal Fabrication

Successful metal fabrication job shops know that in order to maximize production time, it has to start with the design.  The best way to do that is by designing parts for the way it is going to be fabricated or by DFM.  This starts with a cooperative effort between the customer, the manufacturing engineer at the job shop and the operations team.  When they all 3 work together, the outcome should be developing the most cost-effective production design. 

In working together, the customer must convey the use and special features wanted in the design while the staff at the metal fabrication job shop should communicate the process capabilities.  One area that can get overlooked is the design of turret punched parts and the number of tools needed to punch the part.    

The more punch tools the more tool room organization.  Each tool also needs regular sharpening maintenance. 

Other design considerations for a metal part might be whether the turret punch press is the best fabrication tool.  The part might be better suited to run on a panel punch and bender where the part can be punched and then sent to the panel bending cell without an operator touching the part.  Noble Industries designed cabinet drawers for our Salvagnini Panel Punch and Bend cell and reduced 5 set ups in the press brake operation.  The resulted in cabinet trays being punched and bent in a little over a minute saving 4 hours out of the total job operation. 

Cluster tools are also a way of minimizing the number of hits in the punching process.  Many cluster tools are used in metal enclosures where ventilation needs to occur in the product.  Other cluster tools are used for both ventilation and a way to punch the company’s brand name, initials or a logo. 

Whatever design you come up with, it is always wise to tell your metal fabricator if there is flexibility in the design.  That could save money in the long run!

For more information about metal fabrication, visit us at or call Brenda Snyder at 800-466-1926.