CAD CAM is part of Computer-aided technologies. CAx, used to depict Computer-aided technologies, involves the use of various computer technologies to design, analyze and manufacture products. The entire product lifecycle management is done through various CAx tools.
The tools used in Computer-aided technologies aid designing, finite element analyzing, manufacturing, planning production, product testing, documenting and supporting. Of all the tools available, CAD involves the designing part of the products, both virtual and real. CAM, on the other hand, involves the manufacturing process using various machine tools and other related machinery. Both CAD and CAM tools are widely used by engineering firms and are widely available in the market.
CAD essentially works through the use of various software programs. These software programs can be used as simple 2D vector based drafting system or complex 3D surface and solid modelers. Since CAD is associated with the designing of products, the software programs allow programmers to view the design by rotating the product in all three dimensions. This allows them to view the product from every conceivable angle and even from inside out. CAD is widely used in shipbuilding, industrial and architectural design, automotive and aerospace industries, prosthetics, advertisements and even for rendering special effects in movies.
There are various advantages of CAD programs. For starters, CAD can simplify and improve the user interface. The user interface can be customized and the commands are designed as per the functions and expertise of the users. CAD software can also be enhanced easily so that customer demands can be met easily. The modeling options are also user oriented so that the users don’t need to understand the design and history of the software.
CAM also works through computer software and uses software programs to assist in all the aspects of a typical manufacturing plant. Everything from planning to managing to transporting to storing can be done using CAD. The objective of using CAD in the production process is to make it faster while incorporating precise dimensions and consistency of materials. CAD is also used to calculate the optimum amount of raw materials and reduce waste and also to reduce consumption of energy considerably.
CAM has some shortcomings primarily due to the lack of availability of skilled machinists. CAM software designers are working on some core areas of CAM to make its use easier for their customers. CAM designers are working to make the software further easier to use and reduce the complexity associated with the use of CAM in manufacturing. Designers are also looking at further integration of CAM with the product lifecycle management and extending its enterprise.
Both CAD and CAM have found increased use in engineering and manufacturing firms because of the enormous advantage they provide in the production cycle. There are vendors all over the world that design and sell CAD CAM software programs and assist manufacturers to produce their products in a shorter time with more efficiency and precision. This is the reason CAD CAM is so popular among engineers of today.