In today’s world of manufacturing, technology has indeed taken over. To run much of the modern manufacturing machinery now being used in various industries, a person needs skills similar to that of a computer programmer. This is especially true of Computer-Aided Manufacturing, more commonly referred to as CAM. Defined as a manufacturing process that makes use of computer software to complete a manufacturing process, CAM is now used throughout the world in industries ranging from textiles and construction to automotive and aerospace. Becoming a more vital component of modern-day manufacturing, CAM allows for greater precision, quicker manufacturing of parts and items, and much more. If you want to know more about CAM and its many uses, here are some fascinating facts you’ll want to remember.
Numerical Control Software
When it comes to using CAM, numerical control software is the starting point. Able to create detailed instructions that help machinery produce finely-detailed parts and other items, this software creates codes known as G-codes that machinery uses much like a computer uses various programming languages. Once these codes are programmed into a machine, it can use them to translate data and CAD drawings into detailed instructions as to how an item can be produced. Thus, the manufacturing process becomes much more precise, reliable, and efficient.
CAM and Lasers
In many applications where CAM is used, lasers are part of the process. Especially important in industries that produce highly-specific parts that must be absolutely accurate in their measurements, such as the aerospace industry, lasers will cut through metal or other materials to meet specific requirements. As an example, if an aerospace firm is producing a part for a jet, a laser may be used to create the part. Based on G-code instructions that allow the machine to translate blueprints, the machine will guide the laser in cutting through a material to create a part that fits an engineer’s design.
CAM, CAD, and BIM
When CAM is used in a manufacturing process, it is likely CAD and BIM are used as well. Known as computer-aided drafting and building information modeling, these two areas are applied hand-in-hand with CAM. Especially true in the construction industry, these three components work together to create houses, bridges, huge skyscrapers, and everything in between. For example, if an architect is designing and building a home, CAD is used to create drawings of the structure. Once this is done, BIM can be incorporated within CAD to include such data as types of materials being used, cost of materials and labor, and the length of time estimated to complete the project. Once these components are in place, CAM can be used to create a 3-D model of the structure. Using G-code, a machine can be programmed with all available data, letting it use lasers or other components to create a 3-D model. By having this model to examine, engineers can closely examine various structural designs and other parts of the project, making changes as needed.
If there is one area where CAM is being used perhaps more than any other, it is with robotics. Now widely used in everything from automotive manufacturing to operating rooms in hospitals, CAM technology now allows for a myriad of uses. For example, numerically-controlled machines using state-of-the-art software are now capable of programming robotic surgical equipment to perform complex operations on patients. Making a surgical procedure appear to look much like a video game, a surgeon can use joysticks and other devices to carefully move robotic arms to work on a patient. In other applications, this software can be used to program robots to perform welding, installation of parts, and even tasks deemed dangerous to human workers, freeing up workers to complete other assignments. Considered the wave of the future in manufacturing, CAM will nevertheless still need humans to program machines, operate machinery, and make repairs and adjustments as necessary.
Whether building the latest car, performing a life-saving operation in a hospital, or using water-cutting technology to create a tiny part for a jet engine, CAM technology is impacting today’s world in many ways. As the technology becomes more advanced in the coming decades, there is little doubt the possibilities of this technology are endless.