English: A CAD model (top) and corresponding C...

English: A CAD model (top) and corresponding CNC machined part (bottom), machined from aluminium using a 6-axis milling machine. The part surface was finished using sand blasting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drafting and Design

Manufacturing is a nostalgic field of work that has somehow lost its footing in the U.S. over the years with the global business environment and outsourcing to other countries to produce many of our manufactured goods.  Recently, however, changes and advancements in technology have put manufacturing back into the hands of the individuals who desire to design and create their own products.  Design in manufacturing is becoming increasingly popular with the advent of smaller and and more portable manufacturing machines in recent years.  There are custom made 3D printers and CNC machines that can be used at home to create your own computer-aided designed parts into reality.

So, how does someone with access to these modern machines go about creating their own parts and products?  Well, if you’ve been in the world of manufacturers long enough, you would know that first the manufacturer at heart must design the parts or assembly of the product using computer-aided design software.

Computer-aided design (CAD) involves creating computer models defined by geometrical parameters.  These models typically appear on a computer monitor as a three-dimensional representation of a part or a system of parts, which can be readily altered by changing relevant parameters.  CAD systems enable designers to view objects under a wide variety of representations and to test these objects by simulating real-world conditions.

Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) uses geometrical design data to control automated machinery.  CAM systems are associated with computer numerical control (CNC) or direct numerical control (DNC) systems.  These systems differ from older forms of numerical control (NC) in that geometrical data are encoded mechanically.

Since both CAD and CAM use computer-based methods for encoding geometrical data, it is possible for the processes of design and manufacture to be highly integrated.  Computer-aided design and manufacturing systems are commonly referred to as CAD/CAM.