Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) is used to design and manufacture products. It can enhance repetitive processes such as drilling holes or cutting layers. The manufacturing process automatically converts design drawings into machine-friendly codes. This allows the machine to read the design and then manufacture the product according to the design specifications.
How does it work and what are the benefits?
The goal here is to speed up the production of designed objects by eliminating the need for manual machine inputs. CAM also minimizes waste created during the manufacturing process as it only uses the required amount of material and is highly precise.
Most systems can be broken down into three main components:
- Data collection from relevant sources for conversion to digital impressions
- Computing the exact dimensions of an object via relevant software
- Using computerized devices for the actual manufacturing process.
Computer aided manufacturing (CAM) processes allow computer-aided design professionals to use automated machinery to manufacture items. This adds numerous benefits to the production process, some of which are:
- Measuring production outputs to optimize the manufacturing process
- Decreasing material wastage through careful monitoring
- Simulating process performances for clear visualization
- Improving client accessibility of CAD files via cloud storage
- Decreasing the turnaround time by minimizing errors
Advancements in Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)
There have been numerous advancements in recent years due to the invention of better processors and nanotechnology being incorporated into systems. Here is a brief overview of some forward steps in the technology:
The first notable advancement is the standardization of the process with XML technology, which increases the portability of designs across all software platforms. XML works by translating the design elements into text with tags via a standard and transparent system. As a result, all designs can be exported from one package to another without requiring further processing, reducing the time and resources required for the conversion process.
Software is being developed for use via cloud-based solutions to allow for easy access to design drawings. Not only can multiple designers and engineers work on a project at once, cloud-based solutions also allow for the sharing and distribution of documents so all team members can stay informed at all times. Other future cloud solutions with promising benefits (though still under development) include access via phones and tablets.
Quantum computing is another promising future advancement. It refers to theoretical computing based on advanced physics and is still in the research and development stage. This process is very different from traditional binary digital computing and combines GPUs and CPUs into a single element, eliminating the need for excess interfaces. As a result, operations can be performed faster, which will greatly impact the speed of the design process.
Lastly, input and output methods (traditionally via a keyboard and mouse) may soon change the way computer aided manufacturing (CAM) professionals operate on a daily basis. This ground-breaking technology refers to virtual reality, or VR, which is gaining popularity across many industries. VR allows for enhanced interactions with drawings, allowing designers to see their models in 3D before physical models are created. This can increase the accuracy of the design and catch mistakes before the product gets manufactured.
Applications in industry
The prosthodontics and restorative dentistry industry is one such example where advancements in CAM technologies have affected the way professionals work. New techniques for creating complex tool paths by multifunctional machines combined with 3D printing are being used to create dentures and partial denture frameworks.
However, much of these processes are limited to certain materials such as polymers and the accuracy of 5-axis milling units. Some possible future advancements include replacing optical impressions with ultrasound impressions and using acquisition cameras attached to computers in imaging laboratories.
Special software has been designed to aid in the process. The most popular is Autodesk’s computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software series, which comes in 2-, 3-, and 5-axis machining programs and multitasking centers. The series includes PowerMill – used in the manufacturing of molds, dies, and complex components; FeatureCAM – used in the automation of workflows; Fusion 360 – used to simulate and collaborate via a cloud-based platform; and HSM – used to integrate programming for Inventor and SOLIDWORKS.
Due to the growing popularity of computer aided manufacturing (CAM), industries and companies utilizing its flexibility can expect to gain a competitive edge. Not only does it have numerous benefits, but its future also holds endless possibilities ranging from XML standardization to quantum computing and novel VR inputs.