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CAD and CAM - what are they?

CAD and CAM - what are they?Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacture are essential tools for an engineer. Find out more about them below.


Most products require hundreds of technical drawings and reviews before a prototype is built. Take a car, for instance. Different sections of the car will be drawn and designed, then reviewed by many different people, before a design is finalised.

With computer software, the design can be drawn once on the programme, then gradually adapted to take into account changes suggested by the rest of the design team. Some programmes also allow you to design components individually, then put them all together into a final ‘grand design.’

By creating this ‘computer prototype’, engineers can simulate tests and correct errors before they have built the product. This saves time, money and materials.


Computer Aided Manufacture takes the above technology into the second phase, and uses computers to build the products that have been designed. Computers are attached to CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machines. The controlling computer reads a set of instructions that have been given to it. It then passes these instructions on to the CNC machines.

This can be used on very simple, small products, or for small parts of the manufacturing process. However, because it is so efficient and reliable, CAM is often used at every stage of the process.

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