CAD, CAM, CNC and Robots = Manufacturing Automation
Manufacturing is an evolving industry. Automation, manufacturing, off-shoring – all contribute to changes in the way products and parts are designed, developed and manufactured. Fast, effective design strategies are essential for companies who want to keep up with the latest in manufacturing automation.
CAD refers to the design process and is described this way by AutoDesk: CAD is the use of computer technology for design and design documentation. CAD/CAM applications are used to both design a product and program manufacturing processes, specifically, CNC machining. CAM software uses the models and assemblies created in CAD software to generate tool paths that drive the machines that turn the designs into physical parts. CAD/CAM software is most often used for machining of prototypes and finished parts.
CAM refers to the use of various software packages to create toolpaths and NC code to run a CNC controlled machine, based on 3D computer model (CAD) data. When the two are used together, this is generally referred to as CAD/CAM.
CAM does not actually run the CNC machine. It creates code for it to follow. It is also not an automatic operation that imports your CAD model and spits out the correct NC code. CAM programming, like 3D modeling, requires knowledge and experience in running the program, developing machining strategies, and knowing what tools and operations to use in each situation to get the best results. While there are simple programs that for the inexperienced user to get started without too much difficulty, more sophisticated models will take an investment in time and money to become proficient.
Robotic CNC machine tending provides manipulation and transport capabilities that are more complex than basic material handling processes. Machine tending robots are used to secure the product from a supply position, transport it to a machine, interact with the machine and then remove the finished part from the machine. Managing this process by robot minimizes incorrect product placement due to human error and increases speed and efficiency of production.
Robots and Software
Robots can cut the total cost of machining by as much as 30%, per some studies. But it’s not just a matter of telling the robot what to do. Specialized software is required. One such is Siemans NX CAM Software.
According to Siemans, NX provides complete computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software solutions for machine tool programming, postprocessing and machining simulation. NX CAM software’s advanced functions in each of its modules can maximize…ROI… in the latest machine tool technology.
NX CAM can be used in many industries, from aerospace and automotive to medical, tool and die, and machinery.
NX CAM along with data an process management establishes a basis for an extended part manufacturing solution. All types of data, including 3D part models, setup sheets, tool lists and CNC output files can be easily managed with full revision control. This data and process management ensures that the right data, including correct tooling, and right NC programs are deployed, resulting in reduced delays and costs.
Getting the Right Data from 3D Models
The integrated CAD and CAM capabilities in NX enable the 3D model to move seamlessly between the applications without data translation. But, it’s essential to prepare the 3D Part Model. The model needs to be edited to close holes and gaps, offset faces, and resize part features. Specialized CAD functions in NX also enable you to quickly analyze the part during CAM programming. Using these functions, including cross section and minimum radius analysis, you can define optimum machining processes for your parts.
CAD/CAM Services specializes in 3D modeling for many uses and many industries. Contact us for all your 3D modeling needs.