Computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) is a combination of two terms CAD and CAM to describe the software that is used to design and manufacture prototypes, finished products, and product runs. It offers design through manufacturing and is most often used with a computer numerical control (CNC) machine, which is a motorized, maneuverable tool and platform that is controlled by a computer according to specific instructions. To better understand CAD/CAM, a breakdown of the individual terms is below.
CAD is a software tool used by engineers, architects, designers, and drafters to create digital 2D and 3D drawings to design a variety of items and spaces. Computer models are created and defined by geometrical patterns. CAD allows designers to test the objects by simulating real-world conditions. It can design anything from a simple shampoo bottle to a complex jet plane.
CAM uses geometrical design data to control automated machinery. These systems are associated with CNC or direct numerical control (DNC) systems, in which both can mechanically encode geometric data. The main purpose of CAM is to create a faster production process and allow components and tools to have precise dimensions and material consistency.
When CAD and CAM are combined, a CNC machine can translate CAD to manufacture workpieces with CAM.
Uses of CAD/CAM software
The aerospace industry manufactures machines and their parts such as satellites, aircrafts, and missiles. Because these are high-ticket items, CAD/CAM software plays an integral role in the design process. Before a product is built, the software is used to visualize and design every detail.
CAD/CAM is heavily used in dentistry to digitize dental structures and the oral cavity for the virtual design of both simple and complex prosthetic units.
CAD/CAM is used for mass production in fashion companies. The software determines the most efficient cut of fabrics and adjusts the pattern scale for different sizes. It can even be used to portray how the clothing will fit and move.
CAD/CAM software is used to create 3D prototypes of new automotive body staples and to design components such as tires, engines, upholstery, and circuit boards.
Forensic science uses CAD/CAM software to estimate ages and conduct injury analysis and postmortem identification. The software can provide 3D reconstruction of crime scene investigations.