Considering the importance of CAD and CAM integration
CAD (computer-aided design) and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) are processes that will ideally be integrated well – a nearly seamless flow of concepts becoming realized in designs, which then become tangible manufactured objects.
When CAD and CAM software aren’t integrated well, the problems can include the following:
- Delays, as it takes longer for the final object to get produced.
- More errors along the way.
- Financial losses from wasted materials and time.
- A greater difficulty going back and forth to make corrections, tweaks in the design, and other changes.
Although greater integration doesn’t mean that every designer will become a manufacturer (or vice versa), it does strengthen the ties between the two roles. At the very least, it gives both designers and manufacturers a greater understanding of the process that ultimately leads to a manufactured object. Designers are more likely to come up with products that are workable for manufacturers, and manufacturers can offer feedback, guidance, and edits that will more likely be understood.
In a recent article, Engineering.com gave an example of a CAD/CAM software that aims to provide an “all-in-one user experience.” The goal of such software is to smooth the path from formulating a designing to selecting the exact tools and materials necessary to execute it, without getting bogged down by sub-optimal or impractical choices throughout.
With greater CAD/CAM integration, businesses have an easier time combining design and manufacturing on-premises, or working seamlessly with business partners and clients. For example, even if a shop focuses only on manufacturing, and works off of designs created elsewhere by clients, integration with their clients’ CAD software means an improved ability to import and alter the data.
CAD/CAM integration won’t work the same for every business; a large manufacturing enterprise will have different needs (and a rather different budget) than a small shop. But integration needs to be a quality to consider as you choose the CAD and/or CAM solutions for your business.