Manufacturing companies are turning increasingly to rapid prototyping (RP) to perform pre-assembly testing and improve the quality of the final product. Manufacturers also have begun to complement their RP practices using design for manufacture and assembly methodology. Design for assembly lowers the complexity of products through parts reduction and enables manufacturers to quantify assembly times and costs. Users are prompted to consider each part and decide if it must be separate from others in the assembly, leading to systematic simplification of design. The four approaches by which design for manufacturer (DFMA) software analyzes product configurations incorporate design for assembly, design for manufacture, design for service, and design for environment. Using design for assembly can reduce the number of parts in the product, but can increase the complexity of the parts that remain. Rapid prototyping combined with DFMA tools not only can determine if a product will perform its desired functions. According to an expert, when early manufacturing process planning is performed using DFMA and RP, it is synergistic.

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