The Future of Computer Aided Manufacturing & Fabrication

A vital part of any medium-to-large manufacturing business operations is CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) and fabrication services. Playing a key role in ensuring that automation is incorporated into the fabrication process helps to keep things moving along as quickly and efficiently as possible for manufacturing businesses around the world.

 

There are several issues facing the industry at the moment that are set to be evident for many years to come, so it is important manufacturers are prepared for this and take steps to mitigate upcoming problems. But what does the future of CAM & fabrication look like, and what changes are likely to be made in the not-too-distant future?

 

In this article, Dominique Galmel, DELMIA’s Fabrication Roles Portfolio Director, takes a closer look at what the future of the CAM market looks like, along with exploring some of the future optimizations that need to be considered by all manufacturers and service providers.

 

What is CAM and Why is it so important?

Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) has surged in popularity in recent years thanks to a number of advancements in how it can be seamlessly integrated into existing workflows. In layman's terms, CAM is the use of computer-controlled machinery and software to automate a number of manufacturing processes.

 

In essence, you need the below three components for a CAM system to function properly:

  • Industrial machinery that is able to turn raw materials into a finished product
  • Software that can communicate to a machine how to make a product by generating toolpaths
  • The toolpath is post-processed and converted into a language that a machine is able to understand and act upon

 

The overall goal and ideal solution that CAM can provide to manufacturers is essentially a virtual workshop that allows the path for machine tooling of any kind. This can be achieved by creating a realistic simulation that gives the end user a clear visualization of what they can expect from the end product.

 

Automating previously arduous processes is the key to why CAM has grown so rapidly in recent years, with manufacturers both big and small investing in the software.

 

The CAM Market Evolution

Possibly the biggest issue currently facing the CAM market is the fact there are many people with extensive knowledge in the area retiring, especially in Western countries. The knowledge gap is set to cause short-to-medium term issues for many companies, as there simply aren’t the skills and knowledge available in the workforce to meet current demand.

 

Senior management at companies across the globe are looking for new ways to ensure that service levels within their CAM divisions don’t drop off in the coming years, and a number of potential solutions have been mentioned.

 

One of the main factors to combat this issue in the future is likely to be artificial intelligence being fully embedded into future applications. Artificial intelligence has a key role to play in many areas of IT solutions and the CAM market is no different.

 

The plan is that artificial intelligence could be generatively programmed in for the new users and this will help to provide advice and guidance from the retiring experts who will be leaving the workforce in the not-too-distant future. This will help bridge the gap between the current and future workforce by allowing companies to focus on upskilling over a longer period of time as artificial intelligence can take on the heavy lifting in the short-term.

 

Another significant change will come about in terms of automation and the simplification of the user interface in CAM software. A recurring theme throughout the industry, as the workforce transitions from experienced and longstanding employees to newer users, is that they expect a different and simpler user interface. This is paired with new users expecting the software to work differently than it currently does – so CAM providers need to place focus on delivering an exceptional product that meets current and future user needs.

 

Optimization in the CAM domain

Something to consider when it comes to optimization in the CAM domain circles back around to the soon to be retiring population of knowledgeable experts. It’s essential that the best practices that have built up over a number of years, along with the key parts of knowledge from long-standing employees are taken into account and stored in a centralized location that can be reused across various products and parts.

 

This helps to leverage all the necessary parameters for various tools used for a whole host of operations. Losing this type of knowledge and expertise due to poor handovers or an unclear process of where to find key information could set company efficiency and profitability back significantly.

 

Another key aspect of optimization within the CAM market is ensuring that companies developing the software always place focus on optimizing for the machines and those who work with them. CAM software developers should always work closely with cutting tool makers and place focus on trying to increase the capability of our tool path to be more compatible when it comes to the performance of the tools.

 

It's essential that every aspect of the software is optimized with the machine in mind, as the end cost for production will be on the machine itself, so reducing machining time is vital to ensuring consistent profitability.

 

There’s no denying that there will be a clear shift in the way CAM is developed and used by manufacturers around the world. Those who develop the software must stay ahead of the curve where possible, ensuring that they mitigate the risks of losing experienced staff, whilst also keeping an eye on the future requirements of manufacturing firms.

 

 

Dominique Galmel works as DELMIA Fabrication Roles Portfolio Director and has over 20 years of experience within the business. During his time with DELMIA, Dominique has worked in several roles throughout the business and has extensive expertise in the fabrication process.

 

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