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CAD and CAM Software: What's the Difference?

For those not in the know, CAD and CAM software may actually seem very similar. However, they have two very different uses. CAD stands for computer-aided design, whereas CAM is computer-aided manufacturing.

Cad crank

What is CAD Software?

CAD software is used in the process of designing parts and fixtures. It can actually create new pieces from scratch or be used to modify an existing design. When a product is ready for manufacturing, CAD software prepares the parts for machining. The software can generate the G-code to control CNC machines, including lathes, mills, and routers. If a mechanical design is required, the CAD software will use vector-based graphics to depict the parts. It can also be used in both the traditional two-dimensional and the three-dimensional space.

What is CAM Software?

CAM software is introduced in the final stage and is used to control the actual machines themselves. It can help to eliminate any errors that may occur if manually programming any CNC machine. CAM software is also more adaptable and allows for more precise machining. Further uses include planning, transportation, management, and storage for more efficiency.

The use of CAD and CAM software in tandem speeds up the processing time as it is entirely automated. Together, they can reduce errors and improve overall productivity. Typically, both software programs come as one user-friendly package. Other complementary tools can be purchased separately for a more efficient process.