In the digital age that we live in, you can throw the term ‘computer’ in front of any manufacturing term and it sounds way more complicating. However, in most cases, it’s not overly complicating if you simply break it down. Today, we’re going to be discussing computer-aided manufacturing and giving you some necessary insight into how it actually works.
What Is Computer-Aided Manufacturing?
Computer-aided manufacturing, also known as CAM for short, can be defined by its three components. Each one of these components comprised of human labor makes up the industry that produces today’s parts, products, and places. These three components are:
Software – This is the program that specifies tool paths that tells the machine exactly how to make the intended product.
Machinery – This is the physical component of the CAM that actually turns the raw material into the finished product.
Post Processing – Once the toolpath is given from the software, this component translates it into a language that the machine can understand to perform the task at hand.
Understanding How CAM Software Works
As you learned above, one of the main components of CAM is the software program that it runs. This software works to create a model for the machining phase of the production process. The software includes many different actions. These include checking the model geometry for errors, creating a toolpath for the machine to follow during the machining process, setting required machine parameters, and configuring the nesting where the actual system will determine the best orientation for the maximum machine efficiency.
Why Is The Post Processing Process The Key To CAM Output?
Now, the software has constructed the model for the machining process to build. The information from the software must be translated from English to G-Code, or computer language. This G-code essentially controls a machine’s actions. Some of these include speeds, coolants, and feed rates. All G-Codes are made in the same format that looks something like this:
G01 X1 Y1 F20 T01 S500
Unless you’re a computer, it’s unlikely you know what any of these combinations of letters and numbers mean. It most likely looks simply like gibberish. To help you better understand how this translation to the g-code process works, let’s look at the breakdown of this format below.
G01 – This indicates the linear movement of the machine based on the X1 and Y1 coordinates.
F20 – This is the feed rate for the machine, which is the distance that machine will travel during one revolution of its spindle.
T01 – This input tells the machine which one of its tools it will be using.
S500 – This sets the speed of the machine’s spindle.
Think of the g-code as the necessary language for you to communicate with your CAM device. When you speak in g-code, it understands just how it’s going to move its components to create your finished product. Once the machine is fed the g-code, it will get to work crafting the finished product.
The Various Types Of Machinery The CAM Runs
Up to this point, we’ve simply referred to this component as the machine. There are many different types of machines that can be utilized with the CAM system. We’re going to take a look at what some of the most popular types of machine are below that you’ll find in the manufacturing industry.
These routers are typically used for wood and have the capability to cut on three axes. These include the X, Y, and Z axes. You’ll see these woodworking machines easily carve out decorative engravings in door panels. These routers operate at a fairly high speed with their spinning components to make the carving process quick.
Water, Laser, And Plasma Cutters
These machines are all about precision. Using a precise laser, plasma torch, or high-pressure water, this machine will engrave finished designs into a variety of different materials, such as metal. They take work that would take months to do by hand and finish it in hours.
These machines can be used for various materials including composites, wood, and metal. They have a lot of versatility and can utilize a ton of different tools to accomplish very specific shaping requirements. These machines work by starting with a mass of a material and milling away at it to remove the excess mass until the finished product is left.