DFX or How I Learned How to Stop Worrying by Designing Reliability In

One of the most useful things I’ve learned after spending more than 15 years as a process engineer is that assembly processes can easily make a design worse but they can never make it better. Decisions made early in the design phase ultimately predict final product success. Poor material choices, marginal suppliers, incorrect pad geometries – we’ve all experienced them and have tried to make the best of bad situations. Unfortunately, there’s only so much we can do to compensate for design challenges in manufacturing. I know I’ve tried! Add in normal process and material variations and the occasional manufacturing error and we can end up in with a disastrous reliability situation.

As an industry, we seem to spend an inordinate amount of our resources on process improvements (or bashing) without putting greater, or least an equal, emphasis on the design side. So, I’m especially pleased to be working with IPC on the new Design for Excellence (DFX) standard and training initiatives. With these initiatives, the goal is NOT to come up with yet another checklist or “one size fits all” process. We don’t believe those exist. IPC members represent a diverse group with varying products, budgets, and reliability needs. Our goal is to create resources that promote learning and understanding of key drivers to designing reliability into products beginning at the concept stage. And, when design options are constrained or truly pushing technology boundaries, these resources help identify your risk and mitigation options.

In addition to working on the IPC DFX standard initiative, Dale Lee and I have been collaborating to develop core DFX training courses. We launch this effort at IPC APEX EXPO 2014 with Design for Excellence Parts I & II – DFR (Design for Reliability), DFM (Design for Manufacturing), and more. We’ll guide you through the product creation process from start to finish showing the interaction between design and assembly from requirements setting through final test.  As an example, in my Part I course, I’ll demonstrate how a design can be built perfectly to IPC Class 3 standards and yet be totally unreliable in its final application due to incorrect laminate selection.

We do hope you’ll join us in PD-10 on Sunday, March 23, 2014 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm for Part I and in PD-18 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm for Part II!


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