Traditionally, CAM has been considered as a numerical control (NC) programming tool, where in two-dimensional (2-D) or three-dimensional (3-D) models of components generated in CADAs with other “Computer-Aided” technologies, CAM does not eliminate the need for skilled professionals such as manufacturing engineers, NC programmers, or machinists. CAM, in fact, leverages both the value of the most skilled manufacturing professionals through advanced productivity tools, while building the skills of new professionals through visualization, simulation and optimization tools.

Typical areas of concern:

  • High Speed Machining, including streamlining of tool paths
  • Multi-function Machining
  • 5 Axis Machining
  • Feature recognition and machining
  • Automation of Machining processes
  • Ease of Use

Machining process

Most machining progresses through many stages, each of which is implemented by a variety of basic and sophisticated strategies, depending on the material and the software available.

This process begins with raw stock, known as billet, and cuts it very roughly to shape of the final model. In milling, the result often gives the appearance of terraces, because the strategy has taken advantage of the ability to cut the model horizontally. Common strategies are zig-zag clearing, offset clearing, plunge roughing, rest-roughing.
This process begins with a roughed part that unevenly approximates the model and cuts to within a fixed offset distance from the model. The semi-finishing pass must leave a small amount of material so the tool can cut accurately while finishing, but not so little that the tool and material deflect instead of sending. Common strategies are raster passes, waterline passes, constant step-over passes, pencil milling.
Finishing involves a slow pass across the material in very fine steps to produce the finished part. In finishing, the step between one pass and another is minimal. Feed rates are low and spindle speeds are raised to produce an accurate surface.
Contour milling
In milling applications on hardware with five or more axes, a separate finishing process called contouring can be performed. Instead of stepping down in fine-grained increments to approximate a surface, the work piece is rotated to make the cutting surfaces of the tool tangent to the ideal part features. This produces an excellent surface finish with high dimensional accuracy.