Are Integrated CAD/CAM Systems Right for You?

Integrated CAD/CAM solutions combine both CAM (computer-aided manufacture) and CAD (computer-aided design). An integrated CAD/CAM program can take you from the design stage to the manufacturing phase. It can be either based on a traditional, node-locked system, or cloud-based 

An integrated CAD/CAM solution allows you to share your CAD models easily with an in-house or external machinist. It's also easy to share CAD files with other departments and collaborate across them. Sounds convenient, right? Although ease of use is a major benefit, there are many other benefits.

An integrated CAD/CAM solution might be the right choice for you and your team if you are interested in any of these features. Let's get started.

Eliminate data translation issues

An integrated CAD/CAM solution eliminates having to convert to a neutral format like STEP or IGES, or to pay for expensive data translators. When working in the same design system, there is no risk of losing or corrupting data.

Direct translators can be purchased for other systems but they may not keep up with the CAD system's updates. It could take weeks or even months for your direct translator to catch up with file format changes in the original CAD format.

Read Blog: Software for CAD/CAM increases efficiency and expands capabilities

Model Associativity

The CAM data can be used in the same environment as the CAD design to allow for some associativity with original models. The integrated CAD/CAM system will flag any changes in the model and update it as necessary.

Simple Workflow

This allows for a simpler design to manufacturing workflow by eliminating the need for data translation. This reduces training time, reduces IT resources required to maintain multiple CAD/CAM software packages, and allows for a simpler design-to-manufacture workflow.

Automate more of the manufacturing process

Integrated CAD/CAM solutions allow you to use automation in a more comprehensive manufacturing process. It can also create CAM cutter routes and output to other manufacturing processes like 3D printing, probing, scanning, etc.

Full Design Functions

An integrated CAD/CAM program offers the greatest advantages. These functions can be used to modify the model or create work holding or fixtures or addenda or runoff data to the model before it is manufactured.

Editing solid models directly can be used to modify fillets or create clearances for stamping dies. It can also change parts of a mold quickly for editing cooling and gating. It can insert clamps, tables and vises quickly and easily using assembly functions. Drawing functions that allow for full dimensioning are also available to create 3D prints quickly and easily, which can be shared with others.

Integrated Validation Tools

Modules for validating designs can be included in CAD/CAM systems before they are used to start the 5-axis, 3-axis, or 2.5-axis machining process. To determine if a design is going to fail, structural analysis can be done before it is built and tested. A plastic mold flow analysis can be used to validate a mold design prior to tooling being created.

To verify that the run is free from collisions, simulations of CNC cutter paths can even be done, taking clamps, fixtures, and vises into account.

Keep organized and work in teams

Full CAD/CAM systems include a file management system and repository. This allows everyone to stay on top of the latest design iteration. A master model that includes associativity allows for faster analysis, simulation, updates to cutter paths, and without the risk of version conflicts.

Information sharing between departments

To be efficient, design for manufacturing is key. Design and manufacturing can use the same system to share data and collaborate. This allows them to raise any concerns earlier in the design process.

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Cloud Functionality

Autodesk Fusion 360 is a cloud-based CAD/CAM program that offers many of the same benefits as an integrated CAD/CAM system. Version control is automatically maintained because the parts can be shared and accessed via the cloud. When you make a change to a part, and another person has it open at the same time, they will receive a notification and be updated. Fusion 360 products include tools that allow for heat or stress analysis.

Cloud-based CAD/CAM platforms are ideal for collaboration. Anybody can view, measure, mark, or make notes on a part during the design process. This allows them to ensure that it is possible to manufacture. Cloud-based systems are automatically updated and usually have lower IT costs. This allows you to edit or program your model from any location, even an airplane.

An integrated CAD/CAM solution has many advantages over a non-integrated one, as you can see. Cloud-based CAD/CAM solutions offer additional benefits. How can you determine if this is the right solution for you? Fusion 360 can maximize the performance of your machines. Learn more here