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CAD/CAM: the process for the production of a product

Last week in our CTI Wednesday we discussed Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Technology, which consists of performing machining work with the use of tools that offer the possibility of working with various materials such as steel, bronze, wood and plastics. However, as in all work, there is a process to get to the final product, and that will be the topic of today’s CTI Wednesday: Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM); CAD/CAM.

According to architect Frederick E. Giesecke, writer of the book Technical Drawing, for many years engineers, draftsmen and designers have used computers to perform mathematical calculations needed on jobs, however, in the middle of the 20th century the computer began to be used for the realization of designs, which is why today the computer has become an important factor in producing, modifying and transmitting original drawings.

CAD: the first step

To achieve any type of final product, it is necessary to perform the first step which is the design, so in today’s industry is done through CAD, design is the use of computer systems for the creation or modification of graphical representations of a physical product in two or three dimensions.

The main function of this technology is to perform the geometry of the design, whether it is a part, architecture, circuit, calculating its physical properties and modeling, due to the importance of geometry for subsequent activities in the cycle of the final product, in order to move to the second step which is manufacturing.

To develop the design a process must be followed, therefore a CAD system must perform the following actions:

Interactive definition of the object.
Multiple visualization.
Calculation of properties, simulation.
Modification of the model.
Generation of drawings and documentation.
Connection with CAM.

Second step, CAM

After the aforementioned activities are performed, the design is finished and the second step is the Computer Aided Manufacturing.

CAM is based on the use of computer applications to manufacture a quality product, through a direct or indirect interface between the computer system and the production resources. CAM applications are composed of two categories:

Direct interface: activity is monitored, supervised and controlled by the computer that is linked directly to the production process. This is divided into two groups:
Supervision: It mixes a flow of data to the computer in order to observe the process and collect data.
Control: In addition to monitoring, it acts based on the observations.
Indirect interface: The computer is used in manufacturing, but is not connected to the production process.

Multiple benefits … and some limitations

There are different techniques to achieve a final product, however Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing, have become one of the most used methods, because it has too many benefits such as the following:

The design process is faster.
Better visualization of the final product.
Less errors due to the accuracy of the CAD software.
The CAD system facilitates the documentation of the design.
CAD software allows reuse of design data and practices.
CAD-CAM system fully automates the process.
CAD-CAM software decreases cycle times, tool wear is less and reduces machine wear in the long run.
CAD-CAM software allows you to create 2D and 3D parts.

Thanks to these opportunities to make products more profitable, it has become an important technique for the realization of designs, however, like all processes, it also has its complications or limitations, such as the following:

The software and equipment have a high acquisition cost.
The equipment is complex to handle, so it is necessary to have trained personnel.
In order to be able to work with the CAD-CAM system, a powerful computer is needed, with a hard disk with a lot of space and that allows working with high processing speeds.
The maintenance of the equipment is expensive.

Versatility in the fields of work

CAD/CAM has achieved an excellent level of development that allows it to participate in various fields of work so that companies can have a longer duration in the market, which is becoming more and more complicated.

These are some fields of work for computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing:

Architecture: the use of CAD is important for drawing up plans.

Mechanics: This technology is used to design and manufacture all kinds of parts and machines, from the smallest thing like a screw to a large structure like a ship.

Civil engineering: It is indispensable in this area for the elaboration of civil works designs, structural calculations, measurements and process planning.

Industrial design: They implement CAD/CAM to design and create various products such as chairs, tables, furniture, carts, among others.

Geography and cartography: This field has had very valuable advances thanks to its contributions to urban planning, topographic analysis, environmental studies, maintenance and production of maps as well as geographic data.

In conclusion, the commercial success of a product in today’s market, in the face of competition and the demand for higher quality products, is due to the use of the tools mentioned in this STI Wednesday, because they have been of vital importance in attacking three critical factors: cost reduction, reduction of production time and improvement of product quality.

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