The Benefits of Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing
It’s almost impossible to imagine a company that doesn’t rely on Computer-Aided Design (CAD) or Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) this day and age. After all, both have had a major impact on the world, with industries across the globe booming almost overnight. Nowadays, CAD and CAM software has become in demand so much that Autodesk resellers see vast profits on a monthly basis.
But why exactly do CAD and CAM enjoy such popularity? How exactly are they making various industries better? Well, let’s look at manufacturing as an example. We will discuss all the benefits that both CAD and CAM have when it comes to modern manufacturing. But before we do, let’s first go over what exactly CAD and CAM are and how they came to prominence over the years.
CAD and CAM in a Nutshell
Broadly speaking, Computer-Aided Design refers to using software to design certain objects and items in a virtual environment before manufacturing them. We can use the software to either draw 2D images or create 3D models. A wide variety of industries use CAD, including but not limited to:
- Graphic design
- City planning
- Exterior and interior design
- Industrial design
- Product design
On the other hand, Computer-Aided Manufacturing refers to the process where the software converts a CAD model into a language that a manufacturing machine can understand. Once that’s done, the machine starts to manufacture the designed models with incredible accuracy.
CAD and CAM rely on one another heavily. One is an essential tool for finding the best way to design the desired part, while the other automatically feeds the solution to the right bit of hardware that creates it. When used properly, these two methods can deliver hundreds of units with precision and a low rate of manufacturing errors. They have reduced the number of human resources originally used for this purpose and have automated the process in new and unimaginable ways. And much like CAD, Computer-Aided Manufacturing can be applied to any industry.
Now that we know a bit about both computer-aided fields, let’s see what benefits you might reap from using them.
A List of CAD-CAM Benefits in Modern Manufacturing
Improved Machining Capabilities
Let’s say that you have a complex project. For instance, you have a 5-axis machining task, and your CNC device requires a proper tool path to perform what is required. Fortunately, your CAD system will already have a model ready to feed into the CAM system, which converts it into data that your machine can read easily.
Automation is almost immediate, and all you really need to do is a bit of micromanaging and handling some finer details. Not only does that allow you to finish the project in time, but you also get to have a finished product that’s precise, up-to-scale, almost flawless, and, more importantly, ready to replicate.
Improved Client Accessibility
With both CAD and CAM software readily available for purchase, it makes the whole customer-manufacturer relationship faster and more reliable than ever before. Let’s observe a typical situation. As a manufacturer, you receive a request from a potential client.
But instead of it containing specs written in plain English or sketched on paper, it’s a CAD request, with a fully finished model and all the relevant data. So, all you really need to do is feed the CAD model into your own software, compare and contrast it with the other relevant specs, and then run a few simulations. That way, you can tweak and modify any imperfections and small errors, ultimately delivering the best item possible to your client.
Automatic Specification Checking
Somewhat related to the point above, automatic spec checks are incredibly vital to modern manufacturing. By feeding a prototype model into CAD software, you can:
- Automatically check if every part of the prototype follows the proscribed specs
- Allow your clients to see the product at its earlier stages, i.e., show them the whole process from start to finish
- Check the progress of both functional and semi-functional prototypes much earlier than usual, allowing for early corrections
Reducing Material Wastage
Modern CNC machines are cutting-edge tools whose precision and output are excellent, without question. However, they still manage to produce waste, and the more projects you take on, the more material wastage you can expect.
Naturally, there are already methods you can put in place to reduce waste in modern CNC machining. But by far the best and most effective method of all is to nip the waste production in the bud.
Sophisticated CAD and CAM models can present you with the most efficient path to item manufacturing. They will show you the tool path, the simulation presentation creation, the cycle times, and, most importantly, the analysis of possible part deviation. In other words, not only will you see how you can reduce waste, but you can also anticipate potential problems and malfunctions before they appear.
Granular Control Over Projects
The best thing that CAD and CAM software offer is an increased level of control over what you can do. For instance, once you’re finished with a project, you can store or reuse its templates at a later date. Furthermore, you can easily reorder sequences and copy-paste the necessary operations.
In addition, you and your colleagues can exchange the data in real-time and make additional changes as you go along. None of that would have been possible to do a mere fifty years ago with analog tools. All you require is the proper simulation software that accepts modern CAD and CAM models and integrates them easily.
Time and Cost Efficiency
Since its early development, CAD has been making various industries go smoother and faster than ever before. The project turnover has rapidly increased. Manufacturers can now get their prototypes out to customers in months, sometimes even weeks. And with the current technological boom, we can expect this trend to stay afloat for many decades to come.
Computer-Aided Design & Computer-Aided Manufacturing: Final Thoughts
Automation is the future, and both CAD and CAM software are growing alongside the industries they’re helping out. Hopefully, this article has shown you just how vital both are to modern manufacturing. Granted, neither of them is perfect, but the results of using them really speak for themselves.
* This article is written by guest author Tom Schwarzweller, an Account Executive for Microsol Resources. Tom has a long background in selling and supporting CAD and BIM software to the architectural, engineering, and construction industry. He has worked with many of the early adopters of building information modeling (BIM) and has learned the benefits that BIM can create and an understanding of what makes a BIM implementation successful. His many interests include sailing, photography, and biking.