CAD (computer-aided design) models have changed the way the manufacturing industry designs and manufactures parts. There’s no doubt that since CAD technology, there has been a huge turning point for the better. Before CAD, designers used paper, pencils, rulers, compasses, and other tools to go about their drafting. It was cumbersome, time consuming, and a nuisance at times especially when there were changes being made to the design.
During the 1960s, there were many attempts to make the drafting procedure more automated, and CAD was eventually developed originally for the purpose of designing automobiles. After great success, the technology spread to other sectors in the manufacturing industry, and soon reached the electronics and aerospace industry. The ability for CAD to easily draft designs became a huge success and soon computers and CAD software trickled throughout the manufacturing industry and engineers were revolutionizing the way they designed parts for various applications.
Jumping to current day, many manufacturers use CAD files for various purposes to help with the manufacturing process. Although CAD files are used during the design process, they are also used during manufacturing. Not only does it help save time when figuring out all the finer details of a part by looking at the 3D model, but it also allows a model to be magnified and even rotate on any axis to get a full three dimensional concept of the part, which allows the manufacturer a greater sense of the the product. It can even reveal internal features of a part if it cannot be seen clearly on a manufacturing drawing. Aside from these benefits, using CAD makes it possible to simulate the movement of a part through production processes. For instance, it can simulate feed rates, speeds of tooling, the position of the clamps that hold the part , and many other possibly limiting factors of the machine being used to fabricate the part. Another huge benefit to using CAD is for the purpose of assisting in the programming of machines. CAD files can be easily imported into programming software, which assists in speeding up the programming process. There are even instances, where it is nearly impossible to program the machines without a CAD file if the part is complex. CAD files can also serve as a great tool when the programs for the machines are being created and the programmer verifies the CAD model to the manufacturing drawing. In which, there are some cases where they do not match (the designer forgot to update the model or CAD file), which allows the programmer to catch any possible mishaps prior to fabrication. Ultimately, these benefits reduce production time and shorten the time to market, which equals cost savings.
For these benefits, it is very important to have CAD files available for your manufacturer. Although CAD is initially used for the purpose of design, it is a wonderful tool when manufacturing. Here at VIP, we always request manufacturing prints when we are quoting and fabricating parts. It usually provides all the information we need to estimate the cost based on the material type, material thickness, finish, and any other special requirements that are always listed on a drawing. On occasion, we will require the CAD model in order to get better insight of the part and any complex features that are difficult to interpret on the print. Once we move forward with fabrication, 99% of the time we will require CAD files to assist in our programming.