DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CAD & CAM
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CAD & CAM
March 9, 2019
What is solid works?
July 12, 2019
What is Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)?

What is Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)?

What is Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)?

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

  • Software that tells a machine how to make a product by generating tool-paths.
  • Machinery that can turn raw material into a finished product.
  • Post Processing that converts tool-paths into a language machines can understand.

CAD to CAM Process

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:

  • Checking if the model has any geometry errors that will impact the manufacturing process.
  • Creating a toolpath for the model, which is a set of coordinates the machine will follow during the machining process.
  • Setting any required machine parameters including cutting speed, voltage, cut/pierce height, etc…
  • Configuring nesting where the CAM system will decide the best orientation for a part to maximize machining efficiency.

 

CAD to CAM Process

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:

  • G01 indicates a linear move, based on coordinates X1 and Y1.
  • F20 sets a feed rate, which is the distance the machine travels in one spindle revolution.
  • T01 tells the machine to use Tool 1, and S500 sets the spindle speed.

G01 X1 Y1 F20 T01 S500

CNC Machines at a Glance

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.

CNC Routers

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.

CNC Routers

Water, Plasma & Laser Cutters

These machines use precise lasers, high pressure water, or a plasma torch to perform a controlled cut or engraved finished.

Water, Plasma & Laser Cutters

 

Milling Machines

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.

Milling Machines

Lathes

These machines also chip away at raw materials like a milling machine, they just do it differently.

Electrical Discharge Machines (EDM)

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.

Electrical Discharge Machines (EDM)

The Human Element of CAM

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.

The Human Element of CAM

The Impact of CAM

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:

  • Improved machine capabilities. CAM systems can take advantage of advanced 5axis machinery to deliver more sophisticated and higher quality parts.
  • Improved machine efficiency. Today’s CAM software provides high-speed machine tool paths that help us manufacture parts faster than ever.
  • Improved material usage. With additive machinery and CAM systems, we’re able to produce complex geometries with minimal waste which means lower costs.

credit by Praveen Rathore

                                                                                                                                                                            Design Engineer (ME)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *