Many of the plastic products you use might seem very simple to you but they undergo a complex process that begins with the imagining of the pieces and items, how they are going to look and for what they will work.
Within this process, one of the first steps is designing: this means professionals will sketch and model a prototype of how your product will be looking like. This is key to make a successful final product.
Designing is part of the creative process to get articles done. When you design to save some costs, probably you’re using design for manufacturing (DFM). We’ll address quickly some issues to get to know more about this aspect of design.
Even if it’s a simple product, the design is
an essential step for manufacturing.
Whether we are talking about toys or games, houseware and drinkware, promotional products, or anything else, design for manufacturing can be a very good ally to save costs and time, while keeping the quality of the work.
The process of producing something involves important chained steps. As manufacturing is one of the key factors which define a product’s success, to get there smoothly, the creative process and, thus, designing are crucial.
In Martin’s, we’re very aware of the importance of this process. That’s what kept us afloat in 2020, along with our old clients’ loyalty and our new accounts’ trust. We want to present to you our top 2020 products, according to our team. And remember! You’re just a click away from reaching us and let us work on your plastic project.
If you’re willing to know more about Martin’s own creative process,
we recommend to you our article about what’s behind product design.
Some facts around design for manufacturing
Design for manufacturing (DFM) refers to the process of designing pieces, components, or products that can be readily manufactured, so that in the end one can have a better product at a lower cost (1).
DFM is better if it happens in the early stages of the design process. Ideally, it would involve all the workforce directly concerned: designers, engineers, mold builders, material suppliers, and of course the client, too (1).
To achieve its goal, DFM takes care of factors with potential effects on the product manufacturing, for example, the type of raw materials, its properties, and its availability for a quicker production (2).
The reason for DFM to be implemented early in the design process is because it’s estimated that by the time product design gets defined, around 80% of the total product incurred costs has already happened (2).
So, to implement the design for manufacturing, some guidelines will help the designers to achieve their goals (3):
1. Decrease the total amount of parts. The reduction of the number of pieces is quite possibly the best opportunity to save manufacturing costs. Some techniques use one-piece structures or benefit from the manufacturing process, such as injection molding or extrusion.
2. Use of standard components. This means less expensive parts than custom-made. It relieves the pressure for the supplier and it’s positive to the manufacturing production because it reduces time.
3. Multi-functional pieces. This will limit the total number of parts in a design, so it is directly related to the first point. Some examples may include a piece that acts both as an electric conductor and a structural member.
4. Easy fabrication. Choose the best pairing between the material and the fabrication process to minimize the general manufacturing cost. Of course, one way to save even more will be avoiding finishing (such as painting or polishing), but it will depend on the project.
5. Minimize handling. Handling refers to positioning, orienting, and fixing a piece or component. For each of these actions, there are concrete aspects that can be set, for instance, symmetrical parts are recommended to ease the orientation. It will be useful as well to reduce the flow of material waste.
These are just a few examples of how to implement design for manufacturing, but the guidelines aren’t limited to this. Other points can be improved to benefit all the process.
Nevertheless, as plastic manufacturers, we have to assess each specific project to make a better and more informed decision. In Martin’s, we have the experience to get the client’s vision done, sometimes even better than expected!
Before we start with our top 2020 products, let’s just make a brief remark for another process-related, but not equal, to DFM: design for assembly (DFA).
Are you interested in learning more about how plastic products are made?
Click here and read about manufacturing processes for plastics.
Difference between design for manufacturing and for assembly
Both processes, design for manufacturing (DFM) and design for assembly (DFA) aim for a common goal: to conceive a product that will be easily and economically manufactured (3).
The differences between these two are that DFA is concerned only with reducing the product assembly cost, while the DFM is concerned with reducing the general part production cost (4). DFA minimizes the number of assembly operations and DFM shortens the manufacturing process.
Both design for manufacturing and design for assembly seek to reduce material and labor costs by shortening the product development cycle.
The very importance of both processes is that, as we’ve discussed, most of the manufacturing costs are determined by the design decisions, so it’s no surprise that this aspect has increasingly specialized to help enhance manufacturing.
For their common goal, design for manufacturing and design for assembly are increasingly and commonly referred to as one methodology: design for manufacturing and assembly (DFMA) (4).
In Martin’s, we value the importance of every step in our whole chain of operations. That’s why we can guarantee you that you’ll have the best quality plastic products. We now present to you our top 2020 products, as viewed by our team. Contact us if you have any questions about our process and let’s start working together.
Martin’s Top 2020 products
In Martin’s, our relationship with our clients is one of the most important factors to achieve success. But backstage, a lot of things happen to deliver the final product. Our satisfaction comes when not only the client is happy with it, but also the final user.
2020 was a tough year. Amidst a pandemic, many of them had to temporarily close their businesses (others, unfortunately, had to close them permanently), but in Martin’s, we kept working as part of an essential industry: manufacturing.
2020 posed a very difficult challenge for people around the world. In Martin’s, we appreciate our clients for keep holding on with us.
Luckily, we could keep working with long-term clients and some new ones, too. This allows us to look in retrospect and talk about what we did well and the challenges we faced as plastic manufacturers.
So, we’ve decided to share with you what our team thinks about their performance. Divided by our three main branches: houseware and drinkware, toys and games, and promotional products, we can present to you our top requested and most challenging items.
For this review, we took into account the difficulties, but overall the satisfaction brought by specific products, and why we think that our products were successful. So, these are Martin’s 2020 top products by branch.
We are also a socially aware company and we care about the environmental issues,
know about what we do to have greener operations each day.
Houseware and drinkware branch
In 2020, our new houseware and drinkware additions were in-mold labeling (IML) cups (16 and 32 oz), a baseball bowl, a football bowl, a mug of beer, and a water dispenser, created especially for a famous Mexican bottled water brand.
The 32 oz IML cups and the baseball bowl were new products that our customers and final users liked very much. The IML cups are really popular because they can show any art the client wants, since the technique allows this; we work with five types of label finishing.
IML cups are mostly used by shows, themed parks, zoos, and even sometimes as promotional products for food brands.
One of the biggest challenges within this branch was a thermal cup since it was a new model. Several plastic injection tests were needed to get to the perfect fit of the lid with the cup and offer a great quality product.
Regarding design for manufacturing, one of the main aspects to look out for was the dies to achieve precise cutting, they need to have the right measures to make sure the manufactured pieces fit with each other.
As for 2021, we expect to see an increasing popularity of the IML new finishings, such as luminescent IML cups or rainbow and transparent effects. The metallic finishing is most likely to be a trend among houseware and drinkware.
Toys and games branch
Toys and games have been really important for kids (and adults alike) during the ongoing pandemic. While there is a great number of toy manufacturers around the world and a good amount of them in Mexico, many of our clients choose Martin’s over them.
In 2020, this branch manufactured a big variety of board games and activity toys like playdough sets and kinetic sand products. We also manufactured simple but appealing electronic tablets.
Some of the top products from Martin’s toys and games division were kinetic sand sets, and a connect four board game.
These toys and games are at low cost within the market, so we expected them to be successful. Regarding the kinetic sand, the novelty was a very strong factor for success. Another important aspect was the ease of selling on digital platforms.
No doubt the COVID-19 pandemic meant a big challenge because it meant some setbacks regarding the time of delivery. Local and international suppliers were having trouble getting their work done, but at Martin's, we solved that thanks to our short assembly times.
One of the main concerns with respect to DFM is the impact the products will have on kids. Although there are collectibles made specifically for adults, the vast market of toys and games consists of children, so designers need to combine functionality with flashy looks.
The expected trends in this new year include mainly electronic toys and games, as well as products that stimulate the kids’ senses, namely, the touch. That’s why kinetic sand and playdough are still very popular.
To see all the products that we made during 2020, don’t forget to check out our annual catalog. Click here and see for yourself all the awesome plastic products we’ve made!
Promotional products branch
Last year we manufactured a great number of promotional products, one of our most dynamic divisions, since we need to have a very innovative spirit for our clients’ needs and demands.
Fortunately, our great organization and our incredible team always met the expectations. In 2020, snack and surprise items were one of the most required plastic products within this branch.
One of the most important things we care for is to work along with our clients. According to the client, we adjust the budget and we design the required pieces to have the final product ready in time.
Some important factors that contributed to the success of our promotional products are the way we get organized: good planning, great design, and excellent communication with suppliers and overseas manufacturers in case there’s a specific piece we can’t make ourselves.
Promotional products are a very attractive way to get the attention of potential customers and design for manufacturing lets them be affordable.
Licensing is also very relevant to our promotional products since there are a lot of plastic items that will benefit to have a cartoon character associated with. In that case, the product appeal increases and the user identifies more easily the brand.
Challenges in this division are a daily thing. Adding value to the products is one of the biggest challenges, the ships and deliveries were also, from time to time, a setback due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Luckily, we could always make it on time until the end. Related to design for manufacturing, every adequation must be approved by the client. The packaging restrictions are also crucial and weight is a good factor to accelerate the production cycle. The products must pass a choking test too.
We can develop a great variety of plastic products through our three branches.
Learn why in 2021 Mexico keeps being an excellent option for manufacturing.
In 2021, some of the trends we expect are promotional products of popular streaming series characters, like “Baby Yoda” or Stranger Things themed items. Morphing and photosensitive products may also experience a boom, like a product that glows in the dark or changes its color because of the heat or cold.
As you can see, our branches had a lot of work to do and some challenges to face. We are sure that teamwork and our quality standards helped us reach excellent results. We are one of the best plastic manufacturers in Mexico.
In Martin’s, we’re aiming for an even better 2021. We keep on being one of the few plastic manufacturers in the country to have a fully functional design department that can start from scratch. Let us develop your ideas into plastic products, click here to get in touch!
 East West. What Is Design for Manufacturing or DFM? East West Manufacturing, 2020. Accessed 26 Jan 2021.
 eInfochips (an Arrow company). Top 10 Contributing Factors to Design-for-Manufacturability (DFM). Medium, 2018. Accessed 26 Jan 2021
 Robert Greenlee (distributor). Design for Manufacturing - Guidelines. The University of New Mexico, n.d. Accessed 26 Jan 2021.
 David Stienstra (Rose-Hulman). Introduction to Design for (Cost-Effective) Assembly and Manufacturing. Georgia Tech. The George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, n. d. Accessed 26 Jan 2021.