An intelligent CAM can thus make decisions which previously had to be decided by the personnel, resulting in greater levels of automation. Associative machining: With tightly
integrated CAD/CAM systems, any revision to the part designs updates the CAD solid model as well as the CAM file, allowing the CAM system to automatically generate the required new toolpaths, the tool list and, if it is neces- sary, the fixture/clamp modifications as well. Tis results in major time savings for manufacturing companies. Parametric associativity: CAM sys-
tems with parametric associativity (all the relevant parameters are vari- ables) enables users to change the value of each variable, al- lowing adjustment to size at any time aſter the NC program for a part is written. Consequently, it automatically updates the tool- path eliminating the need for NC programmers to redevelop the toolpath every time the geom- etry of the part changes. Consider a spinal device
may also be supplemented by a set of predefined machining features and processes that can be tailored to prefer- ence. Such a system has the ability to recognize the machining features—and by using this data, the soſtware auto- matically retrieves process and cut- ting conditions information from the database for cutting the part in the most effective way. Such pre‐definitions can help manufacturers considerably short- en programming cycles, especially for highly repeated machining processes. Pre-definitions which can be stored can include reusable features and attributes, operation sets, custom and standard
flexibility and a high level of automation resulting in toolpath optimization and virtually automatic CNC programming.
Aiding Customization Capabilities: APIs CAM systems must ideally provide
a suite of Application Programming Interface (API) programs. Ability to adapt to suit industry-specific require- ments is a key characteristic of an intel- ligent CAM system. Te addition of a wide variety of
APIs, including one that helps interpret Product and Manufacturing Informa- tion (PMI) data, will help advanced users to automate a significant portion of their design-to- manufacture life cycle, reduc- ing the drudgery of manual programming. Tis ability to automate can be harnessed fruitfully by the medical de- vices industry. For example, consider
such as vertebrae. Different sizes of the vertebrae need to be developed to suit individual requirements. Te feature of parametric associativity will be quite useful to NC programmers.
Aiding Automation: Knowledge-Based CAM As CAM systems continue to de-
velop, there has been a growing trend towards Knowledge Based Machining (KBM). In a world where faster and economical production are critical, CAM systems that possess the ability to acquire intelligence using KBM can provide a competitive edge to manu- facturers because they offer automation while still retaining control over the machining process. CAM systems that incorporate KBM
typically come with a generalized data- base of standard tools, preprogrammed speeds and feeds and information on standard material characteristics. Tese
Moldmaking operation in CAMWorks.
tooling with feeds and speeds libraries, machine information, postprocessor information, and more.
Automatic Feature Recognition Technology (AFR) In addition to automatically identify-
ing regions to be machined, AFR should be able to suggest toolpaths based on different part geometries and must rec- ognize features regardless of the CAD system used to create them. When dealing with complex part
models, the AFR’s ability to recognize more features in less time can result in major time savings since the time‐con- suming process of manually identifying regions to be machined is eliminated. KBM systems use this information
generated by AFR to create operational plans, select appropriate tools and finally generate toolpaths. Te combination of AFR and KBM provides increased
a master model created for designing and manufacturing a particular medical device where multiple customiza-
tions are required. Template libraries and family tables for various types of the device can be created which can then be categorized. When an order is taken, it will be input into the job order system and then passed to the auto- mated design/programming system. Te automation rendered by the CAD and CAM APIs will create the design, regenerate toolpaths and output G- code, which will then be transferred to the shop floor.
Conclusion Te future of CAM systems holds
great potential. Some of the key im- provements to watch out for are reduced programming times, increased efficiency through greater levels of automation, auto-optimization of toolpaths for faster machining, highly and easily customiz- able KBM databases, consistent and predictable outputs.