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Computer-Aided Design (CAD)

and Computer-Aided
Manufacturing (CAM)

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.


CAD had its origins in three separate sources, which also serve to highlight
the basic operations that CAD systems provide. The first source of CAD
resulted from attempts to automate the drafting process. These developments
were pioneered by the General Motors Research Laboratories in the early
1960s. One of the important time-saving advantages of computer modeling
over traditional drafting methods is that the former can be quickly corrected or
manipulated by changing a model's parameters. The second source of CAD
was in the testing of designs by simulation. The use of computer modeling to
test products was pioneered by high-tech industries like aerospace and
semiconductors. The third source of CAD development resulted from efforts to
facilitate the flow from the design process to the manufacturing process using

numerical control (NC) technologies, which enjoyed widespread use in many

applications by the mid-1960s. It was this source that resulted in the linkage
between CAD and CAM. One of the most important trends in CAD/CAM
technologies is the ever-tighter integration between the design and
manufacturing stages of CAD/CAM-based production processes.
The development of CAD and CAM and particularly the linkage between the
two overcame traditional NC shortcomings in expense, ease of use, and
speed by enabling the design and manufacture of a part to be undertaken
using the same system of encoding geometrical data. This innovation greatly
shortened the period between design and manufacture and greatly expanded
the scope of production processes for which automated machinery could be
economically used. Just as important, CAD/CAM gave the designer much
more direct control over the production process, creating the possibility of
completely integrated design and manufacturing processes.
The rapid growth in the use of CAD/CAM technologies after the early 1970s
was made possible by the development of mass-produced silicon chips and
the microprocessor, resulting in more readily affordable computers. As the
price of computers continued to decline and their processing power improved,
the use of CAD/CAM broadened from large firms using large-scale mass
production techniques to firms of all sizes. The scope of operations to which
CAD/CAM was applied broadened as well. In addition to parts-shaping by
traditional machine tool processes such as stamping, drilling, milling, and
grinding, CAD/CAM has come to be used by firms involved in producing
consumer electronics, electronic components, molded plastics, and a host of
other products. Computers are also used to control a number of
manufacturing processes (such as chemical processing) that are not strictly
defined as CAM because the control data are not based on geometrical
Using CAD, it is possible to simulate in three dimensions the movement of a
part through a production process. This process can simulate feed rates,
angles and speeds of machine tools, the position of part-holding clamps, as
well as range and other constraints limiting the operations of a machine. The
continuing development of the simulation of various manufacturing processes
is one of the key means by which CAD and CAM systems are becoming
increasingly integrated. CAD/CAM systems also facilitate communication
among those involved in design, manufacturing, and other processes. This is

of particular importance when one firm contracts another to either design or

produce a component.


Modeling with CAD systems offers a number of advantages over traditional
drafting methods that use rulers, squares, and compasses. For example,
designs can be altered without erasing and redrawing. CAD systems also
offer "zoom" features analogous to a camera lens, whereby a designer can
magnify certain elements of a model to facilitate inspection. Computer models
are typically three dimensional and can be rotated on any axis, much as one
could rotate an actual three dimensional model in one's hand, enabling the
designer to gain a fuller sense of the object. CAD systems also lend
themselves to modeling cutaway drawings, in which the internal shape of a
part is revealed, and to illustrating the spatial relationships among a system of
To understand CAD it is also useful to understand what CAD cannot do. CAD
systems have no means of comprehending real-world concepts, such as the
nature of the object being designed or the function that object will serve. CAD
systems function by their capacity to codify geometrical concepts. Thus the
design process using CAD involves transferring a designer's idea into a formal
geometrical model. Efforts to develop computer-based "artificial intelligence"
(AI) have not yet succeeded in penetrating beyond the mechanical
represented by geometrical (rule-based) modeling.
Other limitations to CAD are being addressed by research and development in
the field of expert systems. This field is derived from research done in AI. One
example of an expert system involves incorporating information about the
nature of materialstheir weight, tensile strength, flexibility, and so oninto
CAD software. By including this and other information, the CAD system could
then "know" what an expert engineer knows when that engineer creates a
design. The system could then mimic the engineer's thought pattern and
actually "create" more of the design. Expert systems might involve the
implementation of more abstract principles, such as the nature of gravity and
friction, or the function and relation of commonly used parts, such as levers or
nuts and bolts. Expert systems might also come to change the way data are
stored and retrieved in CAD/CAM systems, supplanting the hierarchical
system with one that offers greater flexibility. Such futuristic concepts,

however, are all highly dependent on our abilities to analyze human decision
processes and to translate these into mechanical equivalents if possible.
One of the key areas of development in CAD technologies is the simulation of
performance. Among the most common types of simulation are testing for
response to stress and modeling the process by which a part might be
manufactured or the dynamic relationships among a system of parts. In stress
tests, model surfaces are shown by a grid or mesh, that distort as the part
comes under simulated physical or thermal stress. Dynamics tests function as
a complement or substitute for building working prototypes. The ease with
which a part's specifications can be changed facilitates the development of
optimal dynamic efficiencies, both as regards the functioning of a system of
parts and the manufacture of any given part. Simulation is also used in
electronic design automation, in which simulated flow of current through a
circuit enables the rapid testing of various component configurations.
The processes of design and manufacture are, in some sense, conceptually
separable. Yet the design process must be undertaken with an understanding
of the nature of the production process. It is necessary, for example, for a
designer to know the properties of the materials with which the part might be
built, the various techniques by which the part might be shaped, and the scale
of production that is economically viable. The conceptual overlap between
design and manufacture is suggestive of the potential benefits of CAD and
CAM and the reason they are generally considered together as a system.
Recent technical developments have fundamentally impacted the utility of
CAD/CAM systems. For example, the ever-increasing processing power of
personal computers has given them viability as a vehicle for CAD/CAM
application. Another important trend is toward the establishment of a single
CAD-CAM standard, so that different data packages can be exchanged
without manufacturing and delivery delays, unnecessary design revisions, and
other problems that continue to bedevil some CAD-CAM initiatives. Finally,
CAD-CAM software continues to evolve in such realms as visual
representation and integration of modeling and testing applications.


A conceptually and functionally parallel development to CAD/CAM is CAS or
CASE, computer-aided software engineering. As defined by
in its article on "CASE," "CASE ' is the use of a computer-assisted method to
organize and control the development of software, especially on large,

complex projects involving many software components and people." CASE

dates back to the 1970s when computer companies began to apply concepts
from the CAD/CAM experience to introduce more discipline into the software
development process.
Another abbreviation inspired by the ubiquitous presence of CAD/CAM in the
manufacturing sector is CAS/CAM. This phrase stands for Computer-Aided
Selling/Computer-Aided Marketing software. In the case of CASE as well as
CAS/CAM, the core of such technologies is integration of work flows and
application of proven rules to a repeating process.

Ames, Benjamin B. "How CAD Keeps It Simple." Design News. 19 June 2000.
"CAD Software Works with Symbols from" Product News
Network. 11 January 2006.
"CASE." Available from,sid44_gci213838,00.html.
Retrieved on 27 January 2006.
Christman, Alan. "Technology Trends in CAM Software." Modern Machine
Shop. December 2005.
Leondes, Cornelius, ed. "Computer-Aided Design, Engineering, and
Manufacturing." Vol. 5 of The Design of Manufacturing Systems. CRC Press,
"What Do You Mean?" Mechanical Engineering-CIME. November 2005.

The Impact of Computers on Employment


Computers are a common sight in most offices.

by Contributing Writer
It's impossible to overstate the profound impact of computer technology on employment trends and
workforce structure in the modern economy. Thinking back as recently as the 1980s, the same decade in
which computer use in the U.S. went from just over a quarter of the workforce to nearly half according
to a study by Princeton economist Alan Krueger, career fields such as computer programming scarcely
existed, yet workers also completed jobs that have today been automated by computers. Computers
impact employment by both creating and destroying jobs, but, more than anything, by changing the
nature of the jobs available.
Creating Jobs
Generally associated with increases in workplace productivity, computers allow each employee, using
quick technologies such as email and Internet fact-checking, to accomplish more with every hour of
work. While increases in productivity allow some employers to scale back on hiring, the reality is that

more productive workers are a better labor investment, and employers interested in growing their
businesses are actually more likely to hire new people and expand. As an industry in itself, computer
technology also creates jobs in new fields like programming, computer-aided design and animation,
Internet marketing and online publishing.
Destroying Jobs
While computers have spawned entire new career fields, their introduction has also displaced many
workers, especially in low-skill jobs such as warehouse clerks and basic data processing that were among
the first to be replaced by automated computer technology. In sectors like manufacturing that grow
more slowly and require large capital investments to do so, improvements in productivity brought about
by computers can justify layoffs long before enough capital is available to invest in job-creating
improvements like new factories.
Stratifying the Workforce
Looking at the workforce as a whole, one of the more contentious issues surrounding the effects of
computers on employment is that is creates and destroys jobs at different ends of the economy.
Computers tend to create high-paying, high-skill technical jobs and destroy low-paying, low-skill jobs.
From a social perspective, the problem is that low-skill workers don't tend to have the job training
necessary to seek the high-skill jobs created and, unless a society invests the gains from the top of the
economy in changing that situation, the workforce becomes increasingly polarized.
Additional Considerations
Beyond the impacts of computers on the jobs we hold, the devices also change the way we do our jobs.
Combined with information technology tools such as Internet messaging and file transferring,
computers allow for greater flexibility in working arrangements. This flexibility can improve quality-oflife factors for workers with systems like Internet freelancing, telecommuting and the ability to work
internationally, but it also introduces risks such as a lack of job security, fewer opportunities for
interactions with peers and co-workers and reduced possibilities of having basic benefits such as health

London School of Economics: The Impact of Computer Use, Computer Skills and Computer Use

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: Technology, Productivity and Job

Univeristy of Notre Dame: Impact of New Computer Systems on Employment

BBC: Changing Work Patterns

New York Times: Jobs Created and Displaced

About the Author

Edward Mercer began writing professionally in 2009, contributing to several online publications on
topics including travel, technology, finance and food. He received his Bachelor of Arts in literature from
Yale University in 2006.
Photo Credits

Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images

1. Science
2. Computers
3. The Impact of Computers on Employment
Driven by Demand Media

Advantage & Disadvantage of CAD

In the work place, technology has significantly change the way we go about our every day jobs,
in design the introduction of computers and computer software has identified new and exciting
ways to go about the design process. Computers have contributed to design for quite a while
by providing analysis tools, data-bases and computer-aided drafting tools. Since its
introduction 1960s CAD tools have been developed to more user friendly programs we use
The last 4 decades has been a back and forward process. It has jumped back and forth between
attempts to totally automate the entire design process, to its partial support as a drafting
mechanism, from a representation of objects properties, to complete modeling and
visualization tool.
Design is an intelligent human process activity which requires many skills and lots of
knowledge. Design problems can be solved by individuals or by teams. They may take minutes
or years. Design occurs in a wide variety of domains, ranging from the design of a Nuclear
Power Plant to that of a simple glass bottle. The general design process is often characterised
as mapping needs, functions and structures, this process is carried out by using many different
types of analysis and different sources of information. Hand-drawn plans or sketchers can be

all a computer aided draftsperson or a modeler needs to get to complete a job. On projects
without structural work that dont require permits, even a quick sketch might be sufficient.
This computing evolution has precipitated a fundamental re-evaluation of space and time. The
transition between pre-industrial conditions to a world of computers and cyberspace, taking
place in the best part of half a century, affecting the modern designers concept of space,
which has been an intangible medium for centuries and through constant manipulation and
thought, has distinguished the design profession.
The value of a computer-aided design (CAD) programs depends entirely on what kind of jobs
you do how much design work they regularly involve and the expectations of your client base.
Many consumers cant envision the result of a 3D modeling project, and therefore have a hard
time signing off on a contract. Programs that create realistic two dimensional or threedimensional images of what the client or designer proposes down to the light at different times
of day can help make the sale. Other consumers might not see the charm of a hand-drawn
design and consider CAD drawings more professional. CAD programs can definitely accelerate
the design process, especially if you do a lot of design work or have clients who change their
mind frequently during the design phase. With CAD programs you can change one element of
the design, perhaps lengthening one wall of a room, and the proportions of the other walls, the
materials list and other affected elements update automatically. Even if your company doesnt
create the design, the ability to share files electronically with suppliers, subcontractors and
architects can improve productivity and smooth production.
Advantages in using CAD

Reduces conceptional time for new designs

Products can be created more quickly.

Costly mistakes in design or production can be avoided.

Reduced Manufacturing time.

Documentation can be printed in various forms for multiple users.

Ease of document reproduction and cloning

Visualization of complex technical elements

The quality of designs.

Clarity of documentation.

Easier to apply new ideas.

Disadvantages in using CAD


Expansive start up costs (hardware, software, and training).

Hard to get the conceptional form.

The benefits of 3D CAD design fall into two categories :

Key Benefits :
Using 3D design modeling greatly improves design quality because it is a more complete
process than 2D design. As a result, many human errors that can occur with traditional 2D
design methods are avoided. In the past problems such as component collisions, incorrect
quantities or parts that don't fit, would happen because a designer who works in only 2D is
forced to hold much of the information mentally. It is this point that gives rise to errors
because the brain CANNOT visualize to exact scale. Reducing human error by using the 3D
modeling design methods shown in our 3D CAD manual minimizes the need for re-work
because the design quality is greatly improved.
BOM and schedule generation with 2D methods also relies on mental visualization to generate
a part count, and thus human error is again a risk when quantifying. With 2D methods, views
are visually representative but quantity data from 2D views is poor because projections might
show a particular component in several views while other components might be completely
omitted to maintain drawing clarity. Using 3D design modeling to get quantity data is easy
because items are represented as they occur. Consequently, as long as a CAD 3D design is
created as a true to life model, the 3D modeling design represents quantities with exact
accuracy. If done correctly - and our 3D CAD manual gives the details how - the CAD 3D
modeling method used will give details of blocks and layers (i.e. items) automatically so human
error risks when counting quantities become minimal.
Communication of design intent is vastly improved by using CAD 3D modeling. In the past, non
technical people interested in a 2D design often had to wait for a prototype before they could
truly understand a design. Since cad 3D modeling can be used to generate pictorial views, as
well as traditional projections, the design intent can clearly be seen by anyone willing to look.
Consequently, it is possible to communicate a 3D modeling design and promote inter
departmental understanding earlier in the project cycle, thus creating a time saving. Customer
presentations, brochures, manufacturing, and technical publications all benefit. Clearer
communication of design intent at the earliest stage is always useful.
The possibilities for concurrent engineering take a real step forward with CAD 3D design
because the sheer quality of 3D design modeling data can be instinctively understood and
acted on by other departments.
A very impressive and up-to-date approach can be achieved by using 3D CAD modeling particularly in the eyes of customers. This also applies to individuals because their skills as
employees need to be up dated in order to remain competitive in the jobs market.
Advanced Benefits :
Advanced benefits are more complex, and thus less easy to achieve but at the same time bring
great efficiencies in reducing costs and leadtimes. Put briefly, there will come a time when 3D
CAD methods can be smoothly integrated with other computer systems within companies and even the internet. This will enable users to quickly locate the most cost effective

components easily, reducing the CAD operators need to search for, and then model them, as
well as allowing production and scheduling software to have visibility of bills of material that
are evolving as the 3D CAD modeling develops. Although difficult to achieve at present, this will
become common place in time, but only for those who work in 3D CAD methods.
2D methods are not able to relay the quality and quantity of design information because 2D
methods will always rely on human interpretation or visualization skills to interact with a 2D
design. Interpretation, visualization and interaction with a 2D design is always difficult for non
design staff and almost impossible for computer systems to extract information, because
computers do not have the ability to interpret representative (I.e. incomplete) visual