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What is CAM?

Thursday August 19, 2021 at 9:07am

What is CAM and why is it Useful?

CAM stands for computer aided machining and simply put it is the process of using a computer to create code to operate a CNC machine to cut a part. With the CAM tools in SOLIDWORKS, code for a huge variety of machines can be generated directly off the SOLIDWORKS model.

Cam tools can come in different varieties, but it can normally categorised best by the material you are cutting, and this generally grouped into metal and engineered materials, sheet metal, wood and plastics.

This is done because each of these industries have specific CNC machinery for their task and often, they will have differing workflows and requirements and to ensure you have the best CAM tool for your work the specialism of your work needs to be accounted for. These can be differences be as simple as the tolerance required, to having specialist equipment like an aggregate for drilling in woodwork.
By using optimised CAM tools with your SOLIDWORKS design you can easily make toolpaths on the model which allow you to easily capture your parts form with high accuracy.

CAM Tools also have the great benefit of allow you to simulate how the part will be cut before the material is ever added to a machine. So just like how CAD saves time and effort by capturing errors or mishaps before the product is made. CAM can do the same by giving you a virtual environment to prove your machining out.

Another often overlooked benefit of CAM comes in when you need to make a model change. Whether this being a development tweak to your prototype or revising a production component it is vital that these changes take a minimal amount of time and with the CAM tools in SOLIDWORKS this is simple. With the machining data being associative with SOLIDWORKS this means that if a size is changed the toolpaths will automatically update to the model update. Meaning all you need to do is regenerate the machine code and you are ready to make the next revision.

For more information on what can be done in CAM for SOLIDWORKS make sure you check out the relevant industry page in the manufacturing solutions section of the website.

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