Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) work in tandem to create and produce prototypes, products, and complete production runs, specifically for CNC machining. 

These processes are what will take that sketch you’ve made on the back of an envelope and transform it into a real part, made from metal. 

How does the process work? For all its impressive capabilities, CAD/CAM is actually quite simple to understand… 

CAD rendering/line drawing of a turbine gas nozzle in black and white
CAD rendering of a turbine gas nozzle.
Turbine Gas Nozzle
The machined final product.

The Best of Both Worlds

Think of CAD/CAM design and production at the intersection where function meets form. 

While our CAD services take care of a product’s design, accessibility and functionality, our CAM systems are required to actually produce the part or product. Our team at Interstate Manufacturing relies on SolidWorks, a modeling software that features a CAM plugin for our 3-step production process, which involves:

  • A 3-dimensional model created in a CAD program is processed using CAM software, to identify the shapes and dimensions that must be machined in order to produce the part. 
  • Using this data and the operator’s input, our programmer identifies the machining setups required to make the part.  
  • The final function of the CAM software is to generate a G-Code program: the languages read by CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machines. G-code is really the set of instructions the CNC machine must follow in order to create the part to the desired specifications. This requires the programmer to use a tool library to select the correct tooling for each machining operation and generate tool paths, spindle speeds, and feed rates appropriate for the final product’s finish and tolerance requirements.

Once all three steps are complete, your design — whether created on the back of a napkin or in a design software — is now a tangible part that you can hold in your hands and show prospective clients and investors. 

The Value of CAD/CAM Capabilities 

Increasingly, CAD/CAM software is proving integral to enhancing the quality of production by decreasing the amount of time needed to produce a product, which naturally reduces its overall cost to consumers. In other words, the faster you can make a quality part, the better you can communicate its purpose and value, which potentially boosts your bottomline.  

As smart manufacturing technologies evolve, integrating CAD/CAM software into these processes has been and will continue to be a crucial component to sustained manufacturing success. 

The Key to Future Manufacturing Success 

Not surprisingly, demand for these services, especially integrated CAD/CAM, is on the rise and an ideal fit for a diverse range of industries. 

However, additive manufacturing is also experiencing an uptick in the need for CAD/CAM software in order to support industrial designers, specifically with 3D printing capabilities. 

The future of CAD/CAM design, however, is in the cloud. Comprehensively combining design, CNC programming, and simulation into a single cloud-based application is expected to increase. 

Our team welcomes the opportunity to discuss your specific CAD/CAM design and production needs in order to strategize your ideal solution. Contact us to learn more about CAD/CAM capabilities for your manufactured part or product

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