CAD/CAM’s Come a Long Way


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The past decade has seen the CAD/CAM industry explode when it comes to its efficiency, sophistication and speed. Data and analysis in a recently released CAD worldwide report for 2008 to 2012 from Jon Peddie Research* reveals continued solid growth potential and reviews hardware advances, 3-D techniques, CAD visualization, information management, and 2-D to 3-D usage. It also notes a strengthening trend involving smaller businesses investing in new CAD/CAM technologies to improve their processes and efficiency, and that these are the companies that will see positive change and long-term success.

Although this report focuses on the worldwide CAD/CAM market in a variety of industries, similar trends are seen within the moldmaking industry, which we uncover in our software retrospective roundtable on page 64.

In our retrospective, we talked to CAD/CAM suppliers and discovered how they are going above and beyond to create sophisticated software that addresses the specific needs of today’s mold manufacturers: the ability to work with advances made in cutting tools, high-speed machining and 3-D technology. They also reveal how companies that do invest are realizing the rewards in better leadtimes and quality.

Some of the past decade’s CAD/CAM advances that mold manufacturers should take note of include:

  • Faster hardware
  • Complex full-machine simulations
  • High tolerance toolpath calculations
  • CAD/CAM integration with automated design available to the mid-range market
  • Easier-to-use five-axis programming systems
  • CAM systems with strategies for high-speed machining
  • Collaboration and consolidation, including outsourcing
  • More powerful CAD/CAM that requires a far less expensive platform to run on
  • More automatic cleanup tools with built-in knowledge
  • Wizards that automate the design process
  • Evolution of libraries
  • Advancements in NC program optimization
  • CAM software that controls tool engagement

In today’s competitive world market, especially in moldmaking, shops must reduce their production costs and invest in today’s advanced technologies and strategies—such as machine tools and CAD/CAM—to stay ahead in the game. Then use those machine tools and that CAD/CAM to their full potential, enabling them to take on a more diverse workload, so as not to put all the eggs in one basket and set your shop up for long-term success.

*A firm based in Tiburon, CA that offers consulting and research services. Visit www.jonpeddie.com for more information on the company and its CAD report.

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