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Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) commonly refers to the use of numerical control (NC) computer software applications to create detailed instructions (G-code) that drive computer numerical control (CNC) machine tools for manufacturing parts. Manufacturers in a variety of industries depend on the capabilities of CAM to produce high-quality parts.
A broader definition of CAM can include the use of computer applications to define a manufacturing plan for tooling design, computer-aided design (CAD) model preparation, NC programming, coordinate measuring machine (CMM) inspection programming, machine tool simulation, or post-processing. The plan is then executed in a production environment, such as direct numerical control (DNC), tool management, CNC machining, or CMM execution.
The benefits of CAM include a properly defined manufacturing plan that delivers expected results in production.
Here are examples of CAM software applications:
NX CAM and CAM Express allow NC programmers to maximize the value of their investments in the latest, most efficient and most capable machine tools. NX CAM provides the full range of functions to address high speed surface machining, multi-function mill-turning, and 5-axis machining. CAM Express provides powerful NC programming with low total cost of ownership.
NX Tooling and Fixture Design offers a set of automated applications for mold and die design, fixture design and other tooling processes built on a foundation of industry knowledge and best practices.
The following software components are used by CAM software developers as the foundation for their applications:
Parasolid is 3D geometric modeling component software, enabling users of Parasolid-based products to model complex parts and assemblies. It is used as the geometry engine in hundreds of different CAD, CAM and CAE applications.
D-Cubed Components are six software libraries that can be licensed by software developers for integration into their products. The capabilities they provide include parametric sketching, part and assembly design, motion simulation, collision detection, clearance measurement and hidden line visualization.
CAM is an integral part of product lifecycle management (PLM), playing critical roles in initial manufacturing for product introduction and long-term production. Used together with computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided engineering (CAE), digital manufacturing, and product data management (PDM), entire product lifecycles can be optimized for suitability, reliability and profitability.