CAD/CAM Revolutionizes Engineering and Manufacturing

The popular use of computers to design buildings and mechanical parts can be dated to the groundbreaking release in 1982 of the software product AutoCAD. Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) enhanced flexibility in engineering design, leading to higher-quality products and reduced time for manufacturing.


Prior to CAD/CAM, designers worked with the basics—pencils, erasers, and rulers. The power of computers to help operators more easily create, alter, and store three-dimensional designs has revolutionized the global marketplace. The software can allow a user to produce amazing walk-throughs, enabling a prospective client to examine a building from inside and outside. Operators can work more efficiently and can control a product from design to the end of the product’s life. The software can even design standard parts automatically. Products can be designed for one purpose and can easily be redesigned to fit new purposes. Thus, the user can keep an immense library of designs, manage manufacturing processes, and control material waste. Autodesk
Computer-aided design and manufacturing[Computer aided design]

This long-range control allows companies to cut waste and consider the environmental impacts of their products. Companies can more easily redesign products to be unique to the countries in which the products are to be sold, which is a big advantage in the global marketplace. Computers decrease the time needed from design to production, and new software even simulates stress tests. When CAD/CAM added communication features, staff in all areas of the business became much better connected.

For companies producing products in mass quantities, CAD/CAM technology is invaluable. In particular, machines run by computer numerical control (CNC) have been vastly improved in accuracy by CAD. CAM sometimes is part of a CNC machine, so that the CAM program operates the machine, with a person managing its work, to achieve such tasks as drilling holes into metal at precise intervals. The merger with CNC and CAD made the machines faster, cheaper to use, and much easier to monitor. Computer-aided design and manufacturing[Computer aided design]
Computing, applied;computer-aided design and manufacturing[Computer aided design]
Design software

Further Reading

  • Andrews, Wen. CAD Tools for Interior Design. San Rafael, Calif.: Autodesk, 2007. Explains Autodesk Architectural Desktop and VIZ by starting with basic working drawings. An informative close-up guide to creating virtual model walk-throughs, three-dimensional work, and animations.
  • Cozzens, Richard. Advanced CATIA V5 Workbook: Knowledgeware and Workbenches Release 16. Mission, Kans.: Schroff Development Corporation, 2006. Cozzens spent many years as an engineer for companies like Boeing before going into teaching full-time. This book imparts an insider’s mastery of Sketcher, part and assembly design, drafting, stress analysis, kinematics, prismatic machining, and working with sheet metal designer. Contains a useful glossary.
  • Dimarogonas, A. D., ed. Machine Design: A CAD Approach. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2001. Case studies and explanations about using computers to design complex mechanical systems. Gives practical examples—with seven hundred illustrations—of the methods for designing numerous items. Includes essential details about material fatigue, stress, friction, and oiling.
  • Green, Robert. Expert CAD Management. Berkeley, Calif.: Sybex, 2007. Reviews the skills needed to be a CAD manager, from technical and managerial savvy to business skills. Informs the reader about real-world solutions to business problems such as budgeting, creating standards, training, and buying and installing hardware and software. Provides tips to succeeding on the job.
  • Kutz, Myer. Environmentally Conscious Mechanical Design. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2007. Provides CAM designers with the foundations of design that meets environmental regulations. Introduces ways to design a product for its entire life cycle. All types of products are discussed: industrial, business, and consumer.
  • Shih, Randy H. Parametric Modeling with Autodesk Inventor R11. Mission, Kans.: Schroff Development Corporation, 2006. Features a tutorial-style format to teach parametric modeling, constructive solid geometry, part drawing, associative functionality, symmetrical features, assembly modeling, and other construction topics. Shows readers how to build solid models and create multiple-view drawings.
  • Simpson, Timothy W., Zahed Siddique, and Jianxin Jiao, eds. Product Platform and Product Family Design. New York: Springer, 2007. Shows the CAM designer how companies like Sony, Kodak, and Black and Decker implement product family design.

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