CAD and CAM are so frequently lumped together that many people outside our industry have a difficult time separating the two. “CAD/CAM” has become a single catchall phrase for two very different processes; modeling and machining a part. That line becomes even more blurred with the powerful integrated CAM software available to today’s SolidWorks users.
Some companies struggle to separate the two. They may feel their designers shouldn’t touch CAM either because they won’t get anything out of it or they’ll never be able to program correctly.
That train of thought is understandable. It might be time to reconsider those two preconceptions.
“CAM doesn’t do my designer any good.”
A good SolidWorks user can create some amazing designs, and fast. What benefit could there be from letting them use CAM in any way?
Talk to any machinist and they’ll let you know that one of the most common issues in their workflow is the ability to manufacture the part efficiently due to a poor design. They may receive a part or assembly and realize that some small component of if makes the machining job either dramatically more difficult or next to impossible. In many cases machinability issues like this can be corrected with small cosmetic or internal changes to a part that won’t impact the look or function but will yield a part that is faster and easier to cut and more over SolidWorks DFM Express (Design for Manufacturability) Tool helps Designers to predict design flaws in subject to Manufacturability.
By letting your designer use – even just “play” with – your integrated CAM software you increase the likelihood that those small changes and tweaks will be made during design. With a little familiarity and knowledge, the designer can much more easily understand the manufacturing issues thus minimizing rev changes saving time and money (and save that back-and-forth with the shop that can easily escalate time and costs).
“My designer doesn’t know how to machine.”
This is certainly often true. Many companies rightly prefer to have their designers be expert designers, and have their programmers be expert machinists. They are both different disciplines that require their own skills.
Fortunately, integrated CAM lets you make the most of your in-house machining expertise in ways that help your experts in both areas.