Computer Aided Design (CAD) allows engineers to create detailed designs of parts with maximum efficiency and minimal cost. The days of the drawing boards are essentially over with the release of affordable and easily used 2D and 3D CAD packages. The aim of CAD is to apply computers to both the modeling and communication of designs. This includes automating such tasks as the production of drawings or diagrams and the generation of lists of parts in a design, and providing new techniques which give the designer enhanced capabilities to assist in the design process.
Computer-aided design now involves the creation of a central design description or model data which all applications in design, analysis and manufacturing can utilize. Computer-based techniques for the analysis and simulation of the design, and for the generation of manufacturing instructions, are now closely integrated with the techniques for modeling the form and structure of the design.
Computer Aided Manufacturing – CAM
Introduction to CAM
The CAD model data generated during the design process can be utilized further by the Computer Aided Manufacturing process. A good CAD/CAM system eliminates the need to manually calculate tangencies or to do the trigonometry required to calculate tool paths, saving valuable programming time. It also provides a consistent finish and predictable results.
For shops doing a lot of production machining, tool path efficiency becomes another major consideration. If the same part is run hundreds or thousands of times, any wasted moves in the tool path can be costly. One of the recent developments in CAM is the introduction of Knowledge-based Machining.
Knowledge Based Machining simply automates repetitive operations to drastically reduce part programming time especially when a shop finds itself machining a number of the same part features from job to job. A Knowledge-based machining system captures the user's expert knowledge about certain operations, storing them in a database and making tedious information reentry a thing of the past. This aspect of the software is especially helpful for smaller and medium size job shops that don't do a lot of complex three-dimensional machining but instead focus largely on holemaking and 2 1/2 axis milling. Industry statistics indicate that holemaking constitutes over 70% of machine shop operations, while plain milling makes up another 22%.
Computer-Aided Process Planning
Computer-Aided Process Planning is concerned with the preparation of a route sheet for the engineering drawing of the work part which must be interpreted in terms of manufacturing process to be used. The route sheet is a listing of the sequence of operations. Closely related to process planning are the functions of determining appropriate cutting conditions for the machining operations and setting the time standards for the operations which are aided by computers.
source : engineering software.com