Make it Manufacturable – Design for Manufacturing in SOLIDWORKS with DFMXpress

Article by Ray Morrogh updated December 18, 2023


One of the biggest bottlenecks in the design process can actually occur after the design is initially completed. The form and function may be magnificent, but if DFM has been an afterthought, there could be a lot of iterations in the near future. Going back and forth with the shop floor can be a wide gap to cross, with lots of marked-up drawings and images in between. Thankfully, SOLIDWORKS has tools that can help us understand some of these issues before they strike called DFMXpress.

What is DFMXpress?

DFMXpress is a tool that can evaluate a rule set specific to manufacturing processes to ensure that designs can be made using common manufacturing processes. The processes that can be evaluated are milling, turning and milling, sheet metal, and injection molding. Injection molding provides the most simple parameters, just determining if your design falls within the range of wall thickness that you set. If you’re needing to evaluate how well your plastic part design will fill a cavity in greater detail, you may want to evaluate a more robust tool, like SOLIDWORKS Plastics.

How do I turn it on?

The add-in can be turned on under Tools -> Xpress products. You may need to get a license for it, and if that is the case you’ll be given a link to a mysolidworks page where you’ll be given a license key. Once the application is on, it will appear in the task pane and you’ll have the option to alter the design settings and run the study.

DFMXpress Add-in loaded into the task pane

Add-in loaded into the task pane

How do I run a DFMXpress study?

Once you have turned the add in on and see DFMXpress in your task pane, you’ll want to click on the settings button to adjust the parameters of your DFM study. Here is where you can change the type of study, including milling, turning, sheet metal, and injection molding. Selection of any of these will change the criteria of your evaluation. Once all fields have the appropriate information, simply run the study, which will return a series of checks for you. Selecting any failures will highlight the features and topology that is creating the failure. From here, simply implement the corrections that are required, or change your rule set to adhere more closely to your manufacturing process.

Example of feedback given when running DFM Xpress

Example of feedback given and cross-highlighting

This can be a great first pass check to ensure less back and forth with the shop floor as your look to get your designs made. There is also a professional version of the tool with more advanced functionality like reports and advanced design checks.


For more advanced evaluation of plastic part design, and to understand things like fill time, sink marks, and warping, check out SOLIDWORKS Plastics.

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Ray Morrogh

Ray Morrogh has been using SOLIDWORKS since his graduation from Virginia Tech in 2018, where he studied Mechanical Engineering with minors in Physics and Industrial Design. A recent addition to the TriMech team, he previously worked in consumer packaged goods and product development, creating everything from power tools to footwear to kitchen products. He has a passion for great design and loves seeing how people use SOLIDWORKS to bring their visions to life.