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CAD-CAM Basics

I am excited to begin the deep-dive into exploring CAD-CAM here on the blog. Let’s start with some basics!

What is CAD-CAM?

CAD is computer-aid design. This can really mean any computer program that helps you make a thing from Word with templates that helps you create a document to programs that we usually associate with CAD, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and model making programs, like Rhino, that help us make three-dimensional objects.

I have a Master’s in Fine Art in CAD. It might sound strange to focus on a math/science based subject in a creative degree, but by using a variety of computer programs, I am able to create any object that comes into my mind without limitations.

"CAD-CAM" is the acronym for Computer-Aided Design, Computer-Aided Manufacturing. I use predominantly Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3d printing.

3D Printing Additive Manufacturing

How does Additive Manufacturing work?

The objects made with additive manufacturing are designed on the computer using engineering software, like Rhino, Maya, or ZBrush. In these programs, an object is seen and created from multiple viewpoints simultaneously--you can see the top, front, side and perspective. When you move a point in one view, it alters the object in all of the others as well.

The 3d printer works in a way very similar to a typical laser printer: A computer tells a laser printer where to put ink on a page, going line by line. In 3d printing, instead of putting the ink on paper, the ink is material that creates a solid object, laying down one layer of the object at a time, building up the piece like a topographic map. After a post-process clean (and sometimes a curing step that hardens the material into its final state), the object is ready for use.

There are many different manufacturing methods that use variations on this basic premise, each ideal in different scenarios for specific materials, types of final products, and financial goals (please feel free to email me for more detailed info!).

With additive manufacturing, there have been incredible opportunities for innovation and improving the way that we make and use objects. We can easily and quickly make moving parts and complex pieces, such as tools, complex cooling channels, and rotors, with less room for human error. This has had huge implications for many industries, but none of it would be possible without creativity pushing science forward…

Tune in next week for more on CAD Creativity Advancing Science.

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