Computer Aided Design (CAD)
CAD is a computer tool used for the development of design-drawings/documentation for manufacturing. It merges computer technology with mechanical drawing and includes three (3) main functions crucial for manufacturing:

  1. Line drawings that can be created and stored for future reference,
  2. Libraries of common symbols used to create line drawings that can be easily accessed, and
  3. Plotting and dimensioning functions that eliminate hours of manual drawing and computation, and establish a database allowing the model to be rotated, inverted, expanded, or contracted in the computer program.

CAD uses three-dimensional modeling which provides many advantages over manual drafting and design:

  • Designer productivity is increased,
  • The two dimensional blueprint model is eliminated, and
  • Time and money are saved by the elimination of building a physical model.

CAD programs are generic and available commercially almost everywhere. Computer Aided Three Dimensional Interactive Applications (CATIA) is the most comprehensive and thus the most expensive CAD system.

Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)
CAM is a system design and manufacturing tool that analyzes CAD data in order to determine its best application. After analyzing the CAD data, CAM inputs it directly into production programming, such as machine routing.

Five (5) major areas of CAM application include:

  1. Production Programming
  2. Manufacturing Engineering
  3. Industrial Engineering
  4. Facilities Engineering
  5. Reliability Engineering

CAM can be used to automate a factory through systems such as real-time control and robotics. Because the manufacturing processes in a CAM system is computer controlled, a high degree of precision can be achieved that is not possible with a human interface. The CAM system, for example, sets the tool path and executes precision machine operations based on the imported design.

Some CAM systems bring in additional automation by keeping track of materials and automating the ordering process, as well as some maintenance tasks such as tool replacement. Another advantage of Computer Aided Manufacturing is that machines can be quickly reprogrammed to facilitate mass customization: the process of creating small batches of products that are custom designed to suit each particular client. Specifications and drawing changes can be transmitted quickly from design to manufacturing and from one machine to another.”

The advantages of CAM include:

  • Streamlining the process of transferring information from inception (CAD) to the needs of each specific manufacturing facility, and
  • Saving time and money.

AcqLinks and References:

  • Class: Defense Acquisition University (DAU) PQM 101

Updated: 7/20/2017

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