CAD Manufacturing Benefits: Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)
- 3D CAD files can quickly be imported to drive Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) production software. In turn, CAM drives machine tools and other capital equipment through computer-numerical-control (CNC). CNC manufacturing processes included multi-axis milling, turning, sheet metal work (such as brake presses and punches) and high speed machining.
- CAD/CAM software enables you to check tool paths before any material is cut. The ability to run a simulation and so verify the complete machining process in a virtual environment is critical for keeping waste and scrap to a minimum. This may be crucial on some jobs, such as those using expensive alloys, large material-intensive components, or for those with complex geometry. Other verification advantages that result from less scrap include less energy consumption and reduced tool wear.
- CAD/CAM simulations also enable you to identify how long the production run time will take. Clearly this is useful for scheduling, as well as the planning of throughput, material supply and delivery.
- As the CAD model is the source of the manufacturing data, the design intent is preserved and the dimensional accuracy is retained. In contrast, converting data into 2D drawings and then back into machining code, inherently introduces the risk of making mistakes.
- Note: See our great guide – how to modernize and professionalise your CADCAM capability here…
CAD Manufacturing Benefits: Tooling
- Tooling and die suppliers can accurately and relatively quickly prepare with CAD data for moulded, casted or pressed parts.
- Tooling, die, mould and component suppliers can be simultaneously sent CAD data from anywhere in the world, both for quotes and for the production of parts.
- 3D CAD equips the manufacturing engineer with the means to relatively quickly design tooling, jigs, fixtures, custom gauges and components for work holding.
CAD Manufacturing Benefits: Outsourcing
- For some often lucrative contracts, the ability to handle 3D CAD data is a prerequisite. Prime manufacturers and their tier 1 suppliers sometimes mandate this for smaller manufacturers further down the supply chain.
- 3D CAD enables the automatic generation of bills of materials, giving the option of quotations for outsourcing.
- If you are that way inclined, production can be outsourced to lower cost parts of the world, with the potential to overcome language barriers, as the data is digital.
- 3D CAD software interfaces with prototyping and manufacturing processes by exporting data files in standard formats. These include STL, IGES and STEP.
- Others in the supply chain (or indeed other development process stakeholders) can view, manipulate and add notes to 3D CAD models without having to purchase the software. Instead low cost or free CAD viewers make it possible to communicate and offer feedback on CAD models.
CAD Manufacturing Benefits: Inspection and Additive Manufacture
- Inspection can be enhanced by checking physical parts against CAD models.
- Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMM) can check accuracy, based on the CAD data generated at the design development stage.
- 3D printing (additive manufacturing) can be produced directly from CAD data. Different 3D printing technologies can be used to produce final production parts in a wide variety of materials (polymers, metals and even ceramics), depending on your requirements.