Computer Aided Design

Computer Aided Design, or CAD, used to be known as Computer Aided Drafting, until the term was changed to design to encompass a broader range of methods. CAD refers to the use of computer software to aid in the creation, modification, and optimisation of a design. CAD replaced manual drafting on paper and has massively increased the efficiency at which we can design products, parts, or machines for manufacture.

CAD can be used to create intricately detailed models in either two or three dimensions, the design of which can then be analysed, assessed, and altered to ensure an optimal design. This design is then processed through CAM.

Computer Aided Manufacture

Not unlike CAD, Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM) was initially named Computer Aided Machining, but the name was changing to a more general term. The CAM process takes the completed, optimised design from the CAD stage and converts the data into code for the milling machine to use to create the final product or part. The CAD stage will use the design data to produce general code (G-code) or miscellaneous code (M-code), which is then processable by a CNC milling machine.

Computer Numerical Control

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) is an evolution of a previous method of machining known simply as Numerical Control (NC). NC milling machines generally used punch cards to input the data on where to cut and how fast to move, etc. CNC represents a newer iteration of NC where a computer is used to input the data needed to complete the job. CNC takes code, usually G-code or M-code, and uses it to determine exactly where to cut, drill, and shape a piece of material to produce the final design.

So, though these concepts share some features and similarities, they are all distinct stages in the production of a part, from design to manufacture. The lifespan of the design begins with CAD, moves swiftly through the CAM process, and is finally realised in physical form by the CNC machine. If you’re looking to complete a machining project, get in touch with Prima Tooling today to see what we can do for you! Prima Tooling had over 40 years’ of experience in CNC tooling and manufacturing PCD milling cutters of the highest quality.