Talk:Computer-aided manufacturing

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There are two totally confilcting definitions in the first two sentences. Which is right? I am not qualified to help. Gec118 (talk) 13:41, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

The whole CAM subject in wikipedia is a disaster, in my opinion. We need a clear set of terminologies to differentiate between the machines so we can tell what each page is supposed to be talking about. I'm in particular concerned about differences between 3-axis and 5-axis milling machines, and the vast number of different configurations. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Goatchurch (talkcontribs) 13:13, May 2, 2006 (UTC)
Almost 4 years later and the definition is still ambiguous. I've done some research and found the following definitions in published books (note that the last one is a compilation of web definitions):
Based on the above I'm going to take a hack at reworking the introduction. Wizard191 (talk) 18:18, 3 March 2010 (UTC)


" The entire system tends to be extremely expensive; a computer system with software may cost in excess of £10 000 GBP ($18,000 USD). " Do others think 10,000 is extremely expensive!? How much does a lathe or milling machine cost? How much does your machinist or engineer cost? What is the cost of getting a customer contract wrong? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 14:03, February 1, 2006 (UTC)

Yes, CAM software is/has been pretty expensive and it's a condition of the market. Users tend only to buy when pressured by salesmen, rather than work out what they need on-spec. Consequently, prices are often very high compared to the actual weight of the software. CAD software is significantly cheaper for what you're getting. The lower prices means that the industry must run more efficiently, all using the same geometric kernels, for example. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Goatchurch (talkcontribs) 10:42, March 28, 2006 (UTC)

Old musings[edit]

Volumes of papers have been written on the subjects of manufacturing equipment terminologies. If I had searched for a description of CAM and found to much additional information diluting the general description, I would have become bored with the details before getting to the "big picture" of what CAM is. A link to multi-axes machines would be an better solution. As a manufacturing supervisor, I agree that CAM software is expensive, but so are specifically designed machines. The original price of the IBM XT was expensive. If every design engineer purchased a CAM software package, I believe the price would be more inline with some of the quality design packages. When put into perspective, CAM software is cheaper then the cost of hand written G-Code. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 15:20, December 13, 2006 (UTC)

As you alluded to, CAM is appropriate for complex contouring applications, where doing the math by hand would be absurd for short part runs. The majority of machined parts today do not involve complex contouring, but rather a small minority.
CAM is not cheaper than the cost of hand-written G-Code for the vast majority of machining applications. CAM code is more inefficient and more time consuming to correct for machine errors. A skilled machinist with a calculator and paper can write G-Code down and enter it into the machine about as fast as it takes to get a CAM-generated program to the machine (application specific). These programs are also longer-lived, requiring less staff hours in program upkeep, and allowing easy editing and saving of the program. As edits are done machine-side, the machinist can tend multiple machines and still create or update programs. A machinist can make use of machine features the CAM software is unaware of, such as lathe and mill user-defined canned cycles, macros, and parametric programs. Accuracy is also poor in many CAM-generated programs, as machinists can accommodate small tapers or other errors due to material deflection or machine error while writing G-Code. Changes made to CAM generated programs cannot be uploaded back into the CAM software for further editing. As I mentioned before, the code is inefficient. CAM, as it can write a large program in seconds, uses a large quantity of G-Code to solve a toolpath. This becomes an issue for longer part runs.
In my experience and observation, many shops have come to rely on CAM as a substitute for skilled machinists. Even when this is not the cast, there is a large amount of employee time wasted trying to wrestle with the inherent disconnect between CAM and the machine. So, 18000 USD is only the first investment. There is a recurring yearly cost in wasted time for using CAM software where handwritten G-Code is more appropriate and cost-effective. Adding on to that cost is the extra machine time and resulting lost competitiveness from unnecessary use of CAM. - Toastydeath 00:12, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
Interesting rebuttal: My experience with hand written code and shop floor programming is very different. Maybe the difference is in the multitude of machine shop environments, job shops, prototype, mold, and the redundant proprietary manufacturing shops. Maybe the difference is the size of parts we each manufacture. I agree that a talented programmer/machinist can calculate and write a more efficient program by hand. When I stated that computer aided coding was cheaper, I failed to clarify that we are experiencing a shortage of “talented programmer/machinist”. I did not include that I must personally train new operators in the effective use of machine tools and programming. I did not take into account the vast majority of machining applications. I do remember the fear I felt when I first saw Pathtrace. Does DOS 3.0 ring a bell? It motivated me to begin studying the C compiler and assemble language and write a few of my own DOS tool path programs. Later I realized that there are different CAM programs to choose from and that when put in the hands of a talented programmer/machinist it creates a recipe for greater productivity. My experience is that talented machinist take vacations, get sick, and even worse, their mood fluctuates. When the talent calls in sick the software is still available for making revisions, creating 30 minute fixtures, or teaching another talented operator how to create a g-code program. I will rephrase my statement to read, “In my experience I’ve found that some CAM software programs greatly enhance overall productivity when used properly in certain manufacturing environments, under the supervision of forward thinking manager”. Thank you for this educational experience! Does anyone know of a good assemble language programmer? [USER] - 12/13/06AD - —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 23:44, December 13, 2006 (UTC)

Re-write needed[edit]

Ugh. This article is garbage. It doesn't read like anything close to encyclopedic. It gets especially hard to read at the end. Apparently CAM software is only able to make four different types of toolpaths...all of which are some sort of profiling. Any drilling, threading, or surfacing is done elsewhere, evidently. I am going to start on this. I am happy to hear any constructive input. SteveB67 (talk) 01:07, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree we should add more toolpaths. I would only ask that you add references, because this article lacks them. You may find toolpath descriptions at the wikipedia pages of some CAM products listed here: --Jordiferrer (talk) 08:46, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
References are certainly needed. That's on the checklist. Also, why do we have a picture of a CAD model and the part? Isn't this a CAM article? Surely, we can find a screenshot from Mastercam or Gibbs showing toolpaths, and a picture with the respective part. *...Sigh...*. Lots of work to be done. SteveB67 (talk) 14:42, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Just an FYI, screenshots of non-freeware software are not allowed due to copyright issues. I think the current image isn't horrible. CAM software is used to go from the CAD file to the finished part, but yes it doesn't directly show CAM. Thanks for any help on this article. Wizard191 (talk) 14:59, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm sure we can find a way to work out the copyright things. After all, check out the article on Word or AutoCAD or one of the many images in the Solidworks article. Secondly, I understand your thoughts about the CAD image. However, the article dealing with the CAM side of things should show something appropriately CAM. Leave the CAD images to the dozens of articles about CAD. We can show some sort of backplot, or cut part renderer...something to illustrate how toolpaths that appear on the screen actually make parts. SteveB67 (talk) 17:12, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Oh yeah, I forgot about fair-use if the image is uploaded to Wikipedia and not Commons. Sorry about that. Wizard191 (talk) 17:32, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

machinist or machine operator[edit]

I'm thinking that all the references to machinist need to be carefully looked at. I think that machinist should be changed to "machine operator" in some cases. Back in the day it might've required skilled machinists to operate the machine, but I don't think that's the case these days. SteveB67 (talk) 15:11, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

Agreed. Wizard191 (talk) 23:30, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

List of 20 products, without URL at the reference[edit]

At the new CIMDATA reference, with the list of 20 products, there is no URL. Is that info available online? If not, shall we revert to the previous url available from 2008? --Jordiferrer (talk) 11:06, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

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