DFX – Design for Excellence Explained

28 September 2022
DFX – Design for Excellence Explained

Design for Excellence or DFX is a philosophy and set of guidelines used to improve the quality and efficiency of products. To achieve these goals, manufacturers implement the best practices in design and engineering. This leads to faster production times, lower production costs, a better bottom line, and the ability to better compete in the marketplace. In addition, it helps companies streamline their processes and avoid issues such as defects, rework, and wastage of resources.

A successful DFX approach is one that focuses on excellence. Also known as the 'X' in DFX, it is typically defined as:

  • Cost-Effectiveness - Creating a product or service with the right mix of quality and price.
  • Expected Quality - Meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
  • Usability- How easy it is for the customer or user to use your product or service.
  • Reliability - Creating a product or service that can withstand normal use and abuse.
  • Testability - The products can meet specifications when tested.
  • Manufacturability - The products can meet allowable limits on component dimensions and materials as well as safety and regulatory requirements.
  • Maintainability - The ability to keep the product or service working over a period with minimal need for repair or replacement.

These are all important considerations when developing any new product or service. However, in today's competitive marketplace, businesses need to do more than simply meet customer expectations. To gain substantial market share, they will have to exceed them.


Benefits of DFX

Many product developers are adopting DFX because of its ability to produce higher quality products at lower product costs and shorter product development cycles. Studies have shown that 60 per cent of quality issues and engineering changes are said to be a result of design faults. If DFX is adopted at the early stages of product development, it will weed out significant errors right from the beginning to ensure only top-quality products are manufactured and launched into the marketplace. Here are eight more benefits to adopting DFX:

  1. It improves product cost and reduces the cost of assembly since the product is simplified through the process.
  2. It improves product lifecycle by carefully selecting components and spare parts such as printed circuit boards and having them delivered at the shortest lead time.
  3. It reduces time to market, hence meeting customer expectations.
  4. It minimises product risks and helps improve costs, product quality, and delivery time.
  5. With quality assurance, it reduces the need for amendments after assembly.
  6. It maximises testability and reduces test times because the designing process has already factored in testing criteria.
  7. It improves overall operational efficiencies since potential problems and defect issues have already been taken into consideration at the design phase.
  8. It improves production yields for meeting Six Sigma goals and ensures early prevention of defects.
  9. It enhances customer satisfaction with timely delivery and better quality.
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Traditional Engineering Design vs DFX

To understand why companies are leaning tthe owards DFX as part of their preferred electronics manufacturing process, let us compare it with traditional engineering design. Primarily, the conventional method adopts a linear approach, whereby a systematic sequence from research to final design is done without cohesive participation from the various stakeholders like manufacturers, consumers, and suppliers. It also points to a less proactive method of anticipating possible pain points that may consequently cause delivery delays, more errors in the testing phase, and higher costs.

DFX, on the other hand, is characterised by the early detection of defects at the early design stages so that lower costs will go into rectifying the problems later. DFX also requires fewer tools since it limits the requirement to a standard set for increased efficiency. The key differences between conventional engineering design and DFX are highlighted below:

Conventional Engineering Design

Designing for Excellence (DFX)

  • A linear approach from design to finished product.
  • Addresses problems after the design phase.
  • Uses many tools.
  • Considers functional requirements more than product life cycle.
  • Less involvement from stakeholders during design phase.
  • Design phase attempts to identify and rectify possible product issues.
  • Reduce the number of product iterations and try to get the design right the first time.Only use a standardised set of tools for better efficiency.
  • Priorities the product life cycle requirements.
  • Collaborative approach whereby all relevant stakeholders are involved in the early phases of design and manufacturing.


10 Guidelines for DFX

There are some guiding principles that product developers need to abide by before DFX can be implemented successfully. These guidelines also ensure companies will stick to DFX processes without deviating from necessary steps.

  1. Avoid using unconventional PCB forms or shapes just because there is a space constraint in the product design.
  2. Where possible, limit the number of components in the PCB to prevent overheating caused by insufficient space between components.
  3. Make provision for PCB testing at the early stage of design, especially before arranging the PCB layout. This can prevent failures and defects during the production stage.
  4. Product design should be kept as simple as possible to minimise production and material costs. This will also optimise the efficiency of the electronics manufacturing process.
  5. Designs should accommodate automated assembly and machine soldering because manual assembly can lead to higher cost, inconsistent product quality, and reliability.
  6. Only leverage advanced interconnection technologies when it is necessary.
  7. Lay out product components, usage instructions, and specifications in a clear and concise manner. This can add to the reliability and usability of the product.
  8. Establish stringent criteria when selecting components and spare parts suppliers. This will prevent supply delays that may slow down or pause the manufacturing schedule unexpectedly.
  9. Include all stakeholders like manufacturers, product engineers, and suppliers in the design phases and ensure they can adhere to design guidelines. This will keep the quality and reliability of the product consistent.
  10. All designs must be reviewed by all stakeholders of the product development team so that any errors can be identified before going into production.
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Optimise Product Designs with PCI

DFX is not hard to achieve if companies choose to partner up with a reliable electronics manufacturing services provider that is well-versed in product design, experienced in PCB assembly, and has a manufacturing facility with a full suite of capabilities to produce electronics devices.

Having worked with multiple global clients, PCI is more than capable of contributing our electronics design and manufacturing expertise across diverse markets. We look forward to discussing how we can deliver world-class products to other business partners like yourself. If you are interested in what we can do, contact us today. You can either email us or call us to discuss a project, and we will outline what we can do for you, how much it will cost, and the timeline in which we will have it completed.



Leveraging DFX for new product development is a productive and cost-effective method for creating high-quality products at lower production costs and shorter product development cycles. Though this design process may deviate from the traditional engineering process, it offers a myriad of benefits that the conventional method is unable to provide. For businesses that are unfamiliar with DFX, there is no need to reinvent their processes. All they need to do is to partner up with an electronics manufacturing services provider that is well-versed with DFX processes to reap the benefits. At PCI, clients can gain access to PCI's strength in product design, firmware development, and PCB assembly to stay relevant in the ever-evolving market.