CAD/CAM software helps drive the manufacturing process. While there are many different types of CAD/CAM software used in industry today, CAD/CAM nesting software is typically used for programming mechanized flat plate cutting, offering fabricators and manufacturers a single software solution for all of their profile cutting needs – including plasma, laser, waterjet, and oxyfuel. This combination solution provides all of the necessary functionality to complete the job, from CAD concept, to part preparation, to nesting, to numeric code output.
How CAD/CAM works
CAD, short for “computer aided design,” uses computer programs to draw the exact part or object that is needed. This results in a detailed 2D or 3D model.
The CAD file can then be imported into the CAM software. CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) is defined as “the use of computer software to directly communicate with and control machine tools in the manufacturing process.” It includes most CNC machines used in manufacturing today.
CAM software prepares the CAD file for cutting and machining. For example, it may check the geometry for errors, apply kerf compensation, set the cut sequence, add leads, and apply other advanced cutting parameters.
Some types of CAM software can control and automatically set virtually every aspect of the cutting operation. For a plasma cutting operation, this includes parameters such as arc current, voltage, gas preflow, cut flow settings, cut speeds, cut heights, pierce heights, and more. All of this is intended to simplify the machine operator’s job and increase productivity.
In plate cutting operations, CAM software performs another critical function known as “nesting.” Nesting is defined as the efficient placement of multiple part geometries onto a given surface area. With automatic nesting, the software uses advanced algorithms to quickly rotate and position the parts in a way that maximizes plate utilization and minimizes scrap.
Finally, CAM software outputs NC (numerical control) code that can be read and understood by the CNC control, where it is converted into electrical signals that control the entire cutting process.
CAD/CAM software as part of the automated cutting process
CAD, CAM, nesting, and NC code are just the beginning of the automated cutting process. From there, the NC file must be processed by the CNC, and instructions given to the cutting system and each of the various machine components before parts can be cut.
From CAD to cut