The equipment of the precision machining industry are marvels in themselves. These machines are capable of strokes and maneuvers that even a skilled machinist couldn’t do. However, these machines need a ‘backend’ to support their processes. The manufacturing industry has continually seen innovations, not just in machines but also in the computers that automate the entire system. Oftentimes, precision machine service providers boasts of the different operating systems that augment their machines. Thus, terms like CAD, CAM, and CNC are used. Let’s deconstruct these terms so that we can understand them better. |
Computer Aided Design (CAD)
Back then, designs and blueprints are done manually by machinists, architects and engineers. The designs usually take a long time to produce. Moreover, there’s little room for error. Just a tiny error in specifications and the machinist has to redo the entire plan. And what if the error was overlooked? Well, you have a thousand pieces of products that are virtually worthless.
This is where CAD comes into the picture. With the help of tools like AUTOCAD, machinists and architects alike can design their plans in the computer. Think of it as a blueprint that you computerized. You get accuracy, and you don’t have to worry about scaling the entire plan. Moreover, since parts made by precision machining services are so small, the computer will create a very realistic preview.
Computer Aided Manufacturing
Although CAD helps a lot of machinist with designing outputs, making those designs tangible is another story. Computer Aided Manufacturing is simply the process of automating the manufacturing process. Computers will now be in charge of interpreting the CAD plans and work on sculpting the raw material to make the finished product. The benefits of CAM are numerous. CAM is highly repeatable. The chances of error are minimal and very consistent all throughout the production process. The error tolerance for the first output is virtually the same with the last. However, CAM can be quite costly since you have to set up the system and pay for the operators.
However, this doesn’t mean that CAM can completely take over the manufacturing process. CAM is very flexible. This is where the CNC comes into the picture.
Computer and Numeric Control (CNC)
From the main producer of parts, the role of the machinist has evolved drastically over the years. Instead of making the parts, they are now in charge of overseeing the performance of the machine. The CNC is a control for machinist to adjust the parameters of the machines. These parameters often include the depth of the cut, the distance of the tool from the work piece, and the speed of the machine arm.
These three concepts combined and balanced could open possibilities for machinists to design and produce things thought impossibly complex.
Joseph works for Howarth Engineering, which specialises in precision machining services. When she is not at work, she enjoys writing articles and blogs on different tips to do with CNC engineering.
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