What are CAD/CAM Drawings and Design?  What is Reverse Engineering exactly?

The term CAD/CAM is a shortening of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided
Manufacturing (CAM). The term CAD/NC (Numerical Control) is equivalent in some industries.

The process is used to design and manufacture products. The term CAD/CAM implies that an
engineer can use the system both for designing a product and for controlling manufacturing
processes. For example, once a design has been produced with the CAD component, the design
itself can control the machines that construct the part.

CAD/CAM software uses CAD drawing tools to describe geometries used by the CAM portion of the
program to define a toolpath that will direct the motion of a machine tool to machine the exact shape
that was drawn.

A CAD system is a combination of hardware and software that enables engineers and architects to
design everything from furniture to airplanes. In addition to the software, CAD systems require a
high-quality graphics monitor; a mouse, light pen, or digitizing tablet for drawing; and a special
printer or plotter for printing design specifications.

CAD systems allow an engineer to view a design from any angle with the push of a button and to
zoom in or out for close-ups and long-distance views. In addition, the computer keeps track of
design dependencies so that when the engineer changes one value, all other values that depend on
it are automatically changed accordingly.

Until the mid 1980s, all CAD systems were specially constructed computers. Now, you can buy CAD
software that runs on general-purpose workstations and personal computers.

Numerically-Controlled Machines

Well before the development of Computer-aided design, the manufacturing world adopted tools
controlled by numbers and letters to fill the need for manufacturing complex shapes in an accurate
and repeatable manner. During the 1950's these Numerically-Controlled machines used the existing
technology of paper tapes with regularly spaced holes punched in them (think of the paper roll that
makes an old-fashioned player piano work, but only one inch wide) to feed numbers into controller
machines that were wired to the motors positioning the work on machine tools. The
electro-mechanical nature of the controllers allowed digital technologies to be easily incorporated
as they were developed.

By the late 1960's Numerically-Controlled machining centers were commercially available,
incorporating a variety of machining processes and automatic tool changing. Such tools were
capable of doing work on multiple surfaces of a workpiece, moving the workpiece to positions
programmed in advance and using a variety of tools - all automatically. What is more, the same
work could be done over and over again with extraordinary precision and very little additional human
input. NC tools immediately raised automation of manufacturing to a new level once feedback loops
were incorporated (the tool tells the computer where it is, while the computer tells it where it should
be).

What finally made NC technology enormously successful was the development of the universal NC
programming language called APT (Automatically Programmed Tools). Announced at MIT in 1962,
APT allowed programmers to develop postprocessors specific to each type of NC tool so that the
output from the APT program could be shared among different parties with different manufacturing
capabilities.

CAD & CAM Together at Last

The development of Computer-aided design had little effect on CNC initially due to the different
capabilities and file formats used by drawing and machining programs. However, as CAD
applications such as SolidWorks and AutoCad incorporate CAM intelligence, and as CAM
applications such as MasterCam adopt sophisticated CAD tools, both designers and manufacturers
are now enjoying an increasing variety of capable CAD/CAM software. Most CAD/CAM software was
developed for product development and the design and manufacturing of components and molds,
but they are being used by architects with greater frequency.

Today, over three-quarters of new machine tools incorporate CNC technologies. These tools are
used in every conceivable manufacturing sector, including many that affect building technologies.
CNC technology is related to Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM), Computer Aided Process
Planning (CAPP) and other technologies such as Group Technology (GT) and Cellular Manufacturing.
Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS) and Just-In-Time Production (JIT) are made possible by
Numerically-Controlled Machines.

Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineering (RE) is the process of discovering the technological principles of a device or
object or system through analysis of its structure, function and operation. It often involves taking
something (e.g. a mechanical device, an electronic component, a software program) apart and
analyzing its workings in detail, usually to try to make a new device or program that does the same
thing without copying anything from the original. The verb form is to reverse engineer.

As computer-aided design has become more popular, reverse engineering has become a viable
method to create a 3D virtual model of an existing physical part for use in 3D CAD, CAM, CAE and
other software. The reverse engineering process involves measuring an object and then
reconstructing it as a 3D model. The physical object can be measured using 3D scanning
technologies like CMMs, laser scanners, structured light digitizers or computed tomography. The
measured data alone, usually represented as a point cloud, lacks topological information and is
therefore often processed and modeled into a more usable format such as a triangular faced mesh,
a set of NURBS surfaces or a CAD model. Applications like Imageware, Rapidform or Geomagic are
used to process the point clouds themselves into formats usable in other applications such as 3D
CAD, CAM, CAE or visualization.

Additionally reverse engineering often is done because the documentation of a particular device has
been lost (or was never written), and the person who built the thing is no longer working at the
company. Integrated circuits often seem to have been designed on obsolete, proprietary systems,
which means that the only way to incorporate the functionality into new technology is to
reverse-engineer the existing chip and then re-design it

How can any of this help me?

The answer is quite simple.  Time, accuracy, and preciseness.  Our automated CNC machines are
reliable pieces of equipment which rely on an operator to input exact coordinates and dimensions.  
These are easily obtained from a set of prints.  Not every part that we see come into our shop has an
attached drawing or any associating prints.  This is where reverse engineering and the CAD design
concept come in.  Precise measurements are quickly, but carefully, taken from a sample (broken or
whole) OEM part.  This is then computed into a graphic design and given to the operator who then
turns a solid block into the customers desired part(s).  Now, you, the customer no longer have to
wait 14-16 weeks to get a replacement part shipped in from overseas.  This saves you both time and
money!
Click HERE to see a sample drawing using CAD design.

Click
HERE for a sample file using a CAD drawing with
CAM design.

Click
HERE for a sample Milling G-Code output file
using a
CAD/CAM drawing design.

Click
HERE for a sample machined part that used all
of the above listed processes.
(
The End Result)
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program.  (Usually done easily using any *.dxf file.)  A interpret
into the machining process(es).