The Future of CAM

CAM is the future, so it becomes unequivocally important to discuss the future of CAM. Let’s take a look at the ways in which CAM is changing in order to accommodate the future of manufacturing

How CAM is Evolving

The industry just 5 years ago involved a lot of stress between disciplines. Engineers designed and machinists created. Engineers would hand off a design to a machinist who would say “I can’t make this” and the engineer would then think “those machinists, why can’t they just do their job?” If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you likely recognize this tension – but we’re seeing a shift.

The era of integrated and connected CAM and thus machining has brought these disciplines together. In many senses, the engineer now is a machinist and machinists are now engineers. The lines have been blurred between who designs and creates and the information gap has been broken. By connecting these two disciples, the CAM industry is changing for the better to nudge manufacturing and thus manufacturers back to the top.


Breaking down the barriers in the engineer-machinist divide is facilitated by the growing connectivity of machining through the cloud and simulation. This trend is one you’ve likely already seen. The idea of connectivity is infiltrating every aspect of manufacturing simply because it makes optimization easy. As we discuss other areas in which the future of CAM lies, you’ll see how connectivity is a foundational part of that growth.

Better Machines and Multi-Axis

Software is normally the aspect of engineering and production that advances the fastest, but the cost and accessibility of 5-axis machines has rocked the manufacturing world for the better. 5-axis is the future and our CAM and HSM software will only better be able to integrate these processes into our workflows.

There is a focus in the industry at improving our usability of 5-axis tools and tooling in software that will rapidly optimize how we use these machines. As time is drawn down for the engineer and machinist, the future means cheaper operating costs and better end products.

Post-Processing Cosmetics

Post-processing is only going to get better and post-processors are only going to get more intuitive. We’re talking easily understood graphical interfaces and increased connectivity. As the Internet of Things continues to grow in dominance, our industry will be continually shaped by connectivity. There are many ways that this connectivity can feel like a hassle as we integrate it, but it will only steadily improve and increase out functionality.

As this connected workflow grows in dominance, we’re going to start seeing less divide between engineer-machinist-designer-etc. Instead, we’re going to see manufacturers.

Connected Tooling

Machining is still a very physical process, but anyone who recognizes the ways of industry past understands that it is already much more hands-off than it used to be. Stepping into that realm even further will be the age of connected tooling. Your CAM and CAD system will likely have customizable and graphical libraries allowing the designer or engineer to understand the machining process even further. Maybe one day we’ll even have tooling that can indicate wear in real time along with material stresses so we can better understand and optimize. 

Additive and Hybrid

10 years ago, no one thought anything of industry usefulness could be created using additive manufacturing. Now, it’s a force to be reckoned with. The way we manufacture with additive, however, is drastically different from machining.

We are going to start seeing a shift in CAM software that better integrates additive alongside machining while still keeping the process data separate and understandable. In most cases, manufacturing additive or machining are entire product decisions. With this connected integration, utilizing hybrid manufacturing – combining additive and traditional – will just be easier.

What do you think is the biggest aspect in regards to the future of CAM and what are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments!

Based on a class presented at AU2017.

Trevor is a civil engineer (B.S.) by trade and an accomplished author with a passion for inspiring everyone with new and exciting technologies. As the former editor of one of the world’s top engineering websites, you can find his work covering technical topics across the web. In his free time he loves improving his design skills, reading about new technological advances, and exploring the realm of making things.

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