Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) is the use of software and computer controlled machinery to automate a manufacturing process.
Based on that deﬁnition, you need three components for a CAM system to function
Without CAM, there is no CAD. CAD focuses on the design of a product or part. How it looks, how it functions. CAM focuses on how to make it. You can design the most elegant part in your CAD tool, but if you can’t eﬃciently make it with a CAM system then you’re better off kicking rocks.
The start of every engineering process begins in the world of CAD. Engineers will make either a 2D or 3D drawing, whether that’s a crankshaft for an automobile,
When a design is complete in CAD, it can then be loaded into CAM. This is traditionally done by exporting a CAD ﬁle and then importing it into CAM software.
CAM software prepares a model for machining by working through several actions, including:
Once the model is prepared for machining, all of that information gets sent to a machine to physically produce the part. However, we can’t just give a machine a bunch of instructions in English, we need to speak the machine’s language. To do this we convert all of our machining information to a language called G-code.
G-code is easy to read once you understand the format. An example looks like this:
G01 X1 Y1 F20 T01 S500
This breaks down from left to right as:
All modern manufacturing centers will be running a variety of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines to produce engineered parts. The process of programming a CNC machine to perform speciﬁc actions is called CNC machining.
Before CNC machines came to be, manufacturing centers were operated manually by Machinist veterans. Of course, like all things that computers touch, automation soon followed. These days the only human intervention required for running a CNC machine is loading a program, inserting raw material, and then unloading a ﬁnished product.
These machines cut parts and carve out a variety of shapes with high speed spinning components
CNC routers have 3-axis cutting capabilities, which allows them to move along the X, Y, and Z axes.
These machines use precise lasers, high pressure water, or a plasma torch to perform a controlled cut or engraved ﬁnished.
These machines chip away at a variety of materials like metal, wood, composites, etc. Milling machines have enormous versatility with a variety of tools that can accomplish speciﬁc material and shape requirements. The overall goal of a milling machine is to remove mass from a raw block of material as eﬃciently as possible.
These machines also chip away at raw materials like a milling machine, they just do it differently.
These machines cut a desired shape out of raw material through an electrical discharge. An electrical spark is created between an electrode and raw material, with the spark’s temperature reaching 8,000 to 12,000 degrees Celsius.
The human element has always been a touchy subject since CAM arrived on scene in the 1990s. Back in the 1950s when CNC machining was ﬁrst introduced by John T. Parsons, skillfully operating machines required an enormous amount of training and practice.
A Machinist had to do it all – read blueprints, know which tools to use, deﬁne feeds and speeds for speciﬁc materials, and carefully cut a part by hand.
We have John T. Parsons to thank for introducing a punch card method to program and automate machinery. In 1949 the United States Air Force funded Parsons to build an automated machine that could outperform manual NC machines.
Since its inception, CAM has delivered a ton of improvements to the manufacturing process, including:
credit by Praveen Rathore
Design Engineer (ME)