DFX stands for Design for eXcellence or Design for X desirable characteristics, e.g. serviceability, sustainability (green) etc.

Design for X grew out of the move for Design for Manufacture & Assembly in the 1980’s and the term originated in a paper written by David Gatenby of NCR (later AT&T) in 1989, called (DFX): Key to Efficient, Profitable, Product Realization”

David Gatenby defined DFX as “Continuous improvement in concurrent product and manufacturing process development to focus developers’ attention from the beginning on all key product lifecycle considerations such as customer requirements, quality, time to market, cost of ownership, and operational complexity.’’

Design for ‘X’

Design for ‘X’ now means designing for any desirable attribute, such as Manufacture, Assembly, Safety, Reliability, Serviceability, Cost, Environment, Recyclability, Obsolescence, Procurement, , Test, Aesthetics, Ergonomics, Useability etc.

Design for eXcellence

Design for eXcellence Suggests using all the ‘Design for’ methods to achieve excellence, over the whole product life cycle.


Whilst all of the X’s above are laudable, the problem is that the requirements for each ‘X’ do not always align, and may even conflict. Therefore the various X’s need to be prioritised and a suitable balance found between potentially conflicting requirements.

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