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Design for Manufacturing Support

Seeking a genuine manufacturing partner? Our skilled machinists collaborate with clients to tackle challenging projects, offering valuable insights on feasibility and providing feedback to enhance manufacturability.

Design For Manufacturing Checklist

Take a look at our guidelines to ensure your design and files are best set up for manufactuability.

1. Part Geometry & Complexity:

  • Ensure simplicity in design wherever possible.

  • Make the corner radius slightly larger than the tool required to machine it. For example, if a corner radius is 0.5”, a tool smaller than 0.5” should be used to avoid chatter from full tool engagement.

  • Avoid deep pockets or cavities which are hard to machine. Anything deeper than 4 times the diameter of the pocket's corner radius typically requires long-reach or custom tooling.

  • Minimize the number of thin walls or sections, which can cause deformation. Consider a wall thickness greater than 3 times the material's minimum machining thickness as a reference.

  • Review undercuts; try to eliminate or reduce them.

2. Tolerances:

  • Specify tolerances that are achievable and cost-effective for machining. A standard is 0.005” for metals and 0.010” for plastics.

  • Avoid tight tolerances unless necessary for part function. This can unnecessarily drive up costs. If ±0.010” suffices for a large part, consider it over ±0.005” to achieve potential savings.

  • Ensure tolerances are consistent with the chosen machining method.

3. Surface Finish:

  • Define necessary surface finishes and keep them realistic. A standard is 0.125 Ra, which might show machining marks. A 0.063 Ra offers a cosmetic finish with minimal visible machining marks.

  • Avoid unnecessary fine finishes, as they can increase machining time and cost.

  • Ensure the chosen material allows for the required surface finish.

4. Material Selection:

  • Choose commonly used materials to reduce costs and lead times.

  • Verify material availability in desired sizes and shapes. Check online metal suppliers for standard stock sizes, remembering that the material will need to be oversized for workholding. At minimum 0.125” on each dimension will be added for sizing the stock to account for clean up and workholding.  

  • Ensure the machinability of the selected material.

  • If you require simple plate work and are ok with as-is surface finish and flatness with dings and scratches from handling, Specify a nominal plate size to be used.  This will save a ton in machining related costs.

5. Features:

  • Design holes with standard drill sizes in mind.

  • Avoid sharp inside corners; if being milled, all internal corners will have a radius.

  • Design threads with common taps and dies in mind. Avoid depths greater than 1.5 times the diameter of the hole. Longer depths might require custom tools and don't necessarily add to thread holding strength.

  • Avoid thin slots that require special tools, as they often need full tool engagement, increasing machining time.

6. Tool Accessibility:

  • Ensure that all machined features are accessible with standard tooling.

  • Confirm features of the parts do not limit access, thus requiring super long or specialty tooling.

  • Design to avoid deep cavities or areas difficult to reach with tools. Aim to stay within the standard 2-4 times diameter range for end mill lengths of cut.

7. Part Orientation & Workholding:

  • Design parts for efficient workholding and minimal setups.

  • Consider adding features or flats for secure clamping.

  • Contemplate part stability during machining processes.

8. Assembly Considerations:

  • Minimize the number of parts in an assembly where possible.

  • Design self-locating features to assist with assembly.

  • Consider the ease of access for assembly tools and hardware.

9. Documentation & Files:

  • Ensure all drawings and CAD files are complete, clear, and accurate.

  • Clearly specify all post-machining processes (e.g., heat treatments, plating).

  • Include an annotated list of critical dimensions and features.

  • Ensure drawings include callouts for all threads.

10. Feedback & Iteration:

  • Engage machinists and manufacturing engineers for feedback on the   design.

  • Be open to modifications based on manufacturing expertise.

  • Regularly review and update designs to incorporate new manufacturing techniques and insights.

Download these guidelines as a checklist below:

Method's Design for Manufacturing Checklist
Download PDF • 28KB

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About Method Mfg

Based in Central Texas, in the heart of the American manufacturing revolution, Method Manufacturing is accelerating innovation across a variety of science and technology industries. We are fully equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, offer manufacturing consulting, and provide comprehensive quality control and inspection reports to our clients.  

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