What is CAD/CAM?
In manufacturing processes, one of the steps is the CAD/CAM of the part in question.
CAD / CAM can be defined as the computer design system prior to manufacturing by numerical control.
When we are going to make a part on a CNC machine, we must do the design on a computer with a CAD drawing program. Let’s see a few:
- Autocad: The Autodesk company program is the best known worldwide and most used program for technical drawing.
- Inventor: It also belongs to the American company and is more oriented to 3D drawing, it is very intuitive and easy to learn to use.
- Fusion 360: It also belongs to Autodesk and is very similar to Inventor, but also includes the part of CAM necessary to communicate with the machine that I explain below. It is an all in one for those who do not want to complicate with several programs.
All these Autodesk programs are not cheap, on the contrary, they are very expensive and for a hobbyist of machining they are not the best option. But if your intention is to grow more and more, it is best to start with them from the beginning. For this, you can start using the student license that allows you to use all the features of its programs without limitation, with the only exception that you can only use it for a few limited years.
The next step after de draw is send the file to a CAD program.
In this section we can find many types of programs, depending on which machine we are going to use, one program or another will be better for us. It is not the same to use a milling machine or a lathe, than to use a plasma or a laser cutter.
- Sheetcam: For use with a laser, plasma or water jet cutter, it is very intuitive. In addition, its license is quite cheap, since it is around $ 150. The best thing about this program is that it can be used to communicate with many machines, as it has hundreds of different post processors, including MACH3.
- RDWorks: It is widely used for laser engraving and cutting machine. It allows creating several layers in which to easily customize the powers and speeds of what we need, engrave, cut, etc. It can be found for free online on many websites.
- Fusion 360: As I mentioned before, Fusion 360 is an all-in-one program that also allows the creation of machining processes for both milling machines and for lathes and machining centers.
The latest models of machines already allow you to send the DXF files created by drawing programs directly without using a CAM program by USB, Ethernet or Wifi.