Computer aided part programming is one of the newest technologies in the advancement of manufacturing engineering. It allows swifter production of a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) part program and also permits complicated shapes to be machined easily such as mould tools or aeroplane wings. An advantage of CAM software is that once a drawing and tool paths have been developed, the final outputted part program can be developed for use on many different machines simply by passing the part geometry through a different post processor.
The part geometry is the term used to describe the component drawing and its associated tool paths whilst the post processor is a language translator. The post processor takes the geometry of the component (which is running on a program written in say C++, Delphi or Visual Basic on the PC) and converts this program to a program that the CNC control system can understand and use. The justifications for companies to purchase such a piece of software can be described as thus-: Practical Justifications The practical justifications for the purchase of CAD/CAM software can be described as thus-:
Reduce non-productive time and conversely increase productive time. Time that would ordinarily be spent in programming the machine can be spent in actual production. Potentially reduce requirements for skilled labour on each individual machine. There will, eventually, only be a requirement for one skilled man (to program and set the machines) and the rest of the operators can be unskilled. Their only requirement will be to press the “Start” button for each cycle. This will, however, present the need for an independent quality control to be implemented (if not already in place).
Currently, a lot of companies have their operators check their own work for quality. This will be removed from the operator (thereby reducing more non-productive time) and handed to an unbiased quality controller. The complexity of work is always being increased, as designers want more and more out of technology. This will demand the capabilities of a CAD/CAM system. N. B. The complexity is not necessarily beyond the current operator’s skills but would require extensive time programming. It will provide the ability to receive work “online” from outside customers, internal drawing offices, etc.
This will reduce planning, management and programming time. It will present a far more up-to-date workshop to present to potential new customers. It will allow companies to compete with their main corporate adversaries with greater strength. Every job can be saved to hard disk to allow it to be recalled if and when the job occurs again. It will not be necessary to reprogram, as it will already be saved in a format the CNC machines can recognise. All that would be required is for the program to be uploaded to the CNC. Obtaining CAD/CAM would provide the facility to change tool paths swiftly if drawing alterations are presented.
Will reduce the potential for operator error. Currently, unless the operator is “on the ball” all the way through his/her programming errors can start to creep in. Using CAD/CAM will prevent/reduce this by allowing a visual representation of the cutting path is 3D on the computer prior to it being uploaded to the CNC machine. * Machining time will be reduced because cutting and feeding speeds can be optimised rather than relying on the estimations of the operator. It will also prevent an operator deliberately slowing a job up. Will be able to provide a higher quality product to a companies customers.