The manufacturing process used to begin and end with injection moulding, machining, forming, and joining. But now, computers have become a critical piece of the puzzle, saving time and energy.
Using specialised software programs, computerisation in manufacturing aids in the planning, designing, and fabricating of products.
These Computer-Aided Design (CAD) programs have consistently advanced over the years ever since the first CAD program, SketchPad, was created, a program that allows users to draw directly on a screen.
Since then, the automobile, aerospace, and electronics industries have leveraged CAD programs to build better vehicles, airplanes, and electrical devices.
How CAD Facilitates Manufacturing
With Computer-Aided Design Programs, engineers can simply copy/paste parts of a drawing without spending time drawing the same thing repeatedly. Parts of machines in the design can now be manipulated as texts in Word, giving rise to a 3D design intricately suitable for the engineer’s specifications. This enables designs to be quickly completed so that fabrication can begin.
But Computer-Aided Design has gone far beyond just drawing designs. Computerised manufacturing has become an active part of the manufacturing process and not just a preliminary stage.
All of that is seen in the following:
Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE)
CAD drawings can now be integrated into a Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) program. There, the engineers can visualise the material’s behaviour under conditions such as stresses and deformations. The product is simulated in 3D animation for the engineers to understand its performance in real-life situations.
This removes the time-consuming hassle of hypothesising and manually analysing the product’s mechanics. But even most importantly, engineers no longer have to build expensive prototypes to test how parts of a product will behave under certain conditions. Instead, with CAE, they can see all of that on the screen.
Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM)
After the design, materials handling and product fabrication are the subsequent phases of the manufacturing process. Thanks to advanced tools like the CAM for Solidworks add-on, you can now create tool path and machine instructions for various machines.
By providing capabilities to speed up the learning curve for new users and allowing programmers to create machine instructions, CAM reduces machining time. As a result, the margin for error drops dramatically.
Product fabrication and robots: You see, gone are the days when tiny parts like chips had to be fabricated manually by hands. Using programmed robots and embedded computers, engineers can materialise conceptualised products quickly. This enables products to get to consumers more quickly.
Computer-Aided Process Planning
Even when the engineer completes a design using a CAD program, they still need detailed planning to actualise the entire product. This process plan will discuss how to make each part, set up equipment, and assure quality. Unfortunately, process Planning can be a tedious job.
Thankfully, computer-aided process planning can expedite the planning process and address quality in terms of the product’s competitors. As a result, this can birth a product superior to its existing competition.
These advanced CADs cost money and require technical know-how to utilise. However, a manufacturing firm that can leverage computerised manufacturing to the highest level will be a force to reckon with, building advanced products in minimal time.