CAD/CAM Systems - 1 Background
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WARNING: Machine tools present a safety hazard. Improper operation can result in severe injury. These topics are for non-laboratory study only and are not to be used in conjunction with the operation of any tool or machine described herein. Never use a machine tool without the supervision of a qualified instructor.
CAD/CAM is an acronym for Computer Aided Design / Computer Aided Manufacturing. In essence CAD is simply a drafting board in a computer and facilitates engineering and design with a monitor and a keyboard instead of a paper and pencil. The drawing is saved in an electronic data file for editing.

CAM is what can be done with the electronic data to help manufacture the engineered part represented in the electronic file. Although there can be hundreds of different manufacturing processes (stamping, forging, molding, etc) “CAM” when teamed with “CAD” as in “CAD/CAM” has come to refer almost exclusively as the process of machining the CAD geometry on CNC machinery. Of course the computer file alone cannot machine a part nor can the computer. But with a CAD/CAM system the electronic CAD file can be used to create another file of tool paths that can be fed into the controls of the CNC machinery.

In the 60's and 70's CAD/CAM systems were comprised of expensive mainframe computers and minicomputers. Because of rapid advancements in computer technology, the personal computer (PC) is now being used for most systems.

CAD/CAM systems are responsible for significant acceleration in the industrial automation processes.

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