Computer-aided design (CAD) is the use of computer systems to assist in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design. CAD software is used to increase the productivity of the fabricator, improve the quality of design, improve communications through documentation and to create a database for manufacturing. CAD output is often in the form of electronic files for print, machining or other manufacturing operations.
Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) is the use of computer software to control machine tools and related machinery in the manufacturing of work pieces. CAM may also refer to the use of a computer to assist in all operations of a manufacturing plant, including planning, management, transportation and storage. Its primary purpose is to create a faster production process and components and tooling with more precise dimensions and material consistency, which in some cases, uses only the required amount of raw material (thus minimizing waste), while simultaneously reducing energy consumption.
CAM is a subsequent computer-aided process after computer-aided design (CAD) and sometimes computer-aided engineering (CAE), as the model generated in CAD and verified CAE can be input into CAM software, which then controls the machine tool.
Most machining progresses through many stages – each of which is implemented by a variety of basic and sophisticated strategies, depending on the material and the software available. The stages are:
This process begins with raw stock, known as billet, and cuts it very roughly to shape of the final model. In milling, the result often gives the appearance of terraces, because the strategy has taken advantage of the ability to cut the model horizontally. Common strategies are zigzag clearing, offset clearing, plunge-roughing and rest-roughing.
Finishing involves a slow pass across the material in very fine steps to produce the finished part. ln finishing, the step between one pass and another is minimal. Feed rates are low and spindle speeds are raised to produce an accurate surface.
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