Do it right the first time

Design for X

Design for X takes into account a wide array of key considerations throughout the product life cycle.

In the previous post we reviewed the Materials and Manufacturing Technologies selection. After completion of this phase the product should be designed so that it can be produced in the desired volumes, with high quality and optimal cost.

Normally, at that stage you will have to make some changes to your product to fit the selected production technology, a process called Design for Manufacturing (DFM).

However, modifications do not end there. We want to take into account a variety of other considerations such as quality, cost, storage, transportation, etc. a process called Design for X (DFX) where X denotes the full range of considerations, including manufacturing (M).

In addition to that, many products integrate multiple components of different materials and technologies, such as electronics, plastic, metal, wood, paper and more.

The interaction and integration of the components are equally important during the DFX process.

The following list presents some of the aspects that must be considered in the product design:

Design for Manufacturing - manufacturing technologies and materials have developed tremendously, offering design opportunities that were not previously available. However, every material and technology has its advantages as well as its limitations. It is therefore important to recognize them when we devise our product.

For example, suppose we planned plastic components in our product. And we determined that the the best technology should be injection molding. Hence, we want to avoid under-cuts in the components geometry.

Design for Quality and Reliability - the geometry, materials and production processes will determine much of the quality and reliability of the components and of the entire product. Thus, while the product may function properly in the lab, without building quality and reliability into its design it may malfunction or fail during use by the end customer.

For example, if a component may be exposed to high physical stress it has to be strengthened or the stress should be reduced in the vulnerable areas.

Design for Cost (saving) - the design for cost can be achieved in several key ways and any combination thereof.

  • Eliminate components, when possible.

  • Replace custom made components with COTS (commercially off-the-shelf) components.

  • Prefer standard materials and processes over exotic ones.

  • Consolidate components to a single component.

  • Split components, if that significantly simplifies the process.

Design for storage and transportation - this should take into account exposure to extreme environmental conditions, shocks, vibration, packing and unpacking and conforming with standards of ground, sea and air transportation measures.


There are many consideration in the product design other than its functionality. In this article we reviewed some of the essential ones for appropriate Design for X process.

Tip: To start a DFX process gather a group of different discipline key holders in you company and create a brainstorming group to discuss all “X” aspects.

In the next post we will address the Make or Buy decision making highlights.

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