Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) refers to an automation process, which accurately converts product design and drawing or the object into a code format, readable by the machine to manufacture the product. Computer aided manufacturing complements the computer aided design (CAD) systems to offer a wide range of applications in different manufacturing fields. CAM evolved from the technology utilized in the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines that were used in the early 1950s. CNC involved the use of coded instructions on a punched paper tape and could control single manufacturing functions. CAM controlled computer systems, however, can control a whole set of manufacturing functions simultaneously.
CAM allows work instructions and procedures to be communicated directly to the manufacturing machines. A CAM system controls manufacturing operations performed by robotic milling machines, lathes, welding machines and other industrial tools. It moves the raw material to different machines within the system by allowing systematic completion of each step. Finished products can also be moved within the system to complete other manufacturing operations such as packaging, synthesizing and making final checks and changes.
Some of the major applications of the CAM system are glass working, woodturning, metalworking and spinning, and graphical optimization of the entire manufacturing procedure. Production of the solids of rotation, plane surfaces, and screw threads is done by applying CAM systems.
A CAM system allows the manufacturing of three-dimensional solids, using ornamental lathes with greater intricacy and detail. Products such as candlestick holders, table legs, bowls, baseball bats, crankshafts, and camshafts can be manufactured using the CAM system. CAM system can also be applied to the process of diamond turning to manufacture diamond tipped cutting materials. Aspheric optical elements made from glass, crystals, and other metals can also be produced using CAM systems.
Computer aided manufacturing can be applied to the fields of mechanical, electrical, industrial and aerospace engineering. Applications such as thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, solid mechanics, and kinematics can be controlled using CAM systems. Other applications such as electromagnetism, ergonomics, aerodynamics, and propulsion and material science may also use computer aided manufacturing.