Computer-Aided Manufacturing

About

Objects made with the help of computerized manufacturing processes, such as 3-D printing or computer numerically controlled (CNC) routing and milling. By translating designs made on a computer into physical form (a process called computer-aided design, or CAD, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) can create objects with complex geometries relatively quickly and with a high degree of precision. First developed in the 1960s for the automotive and aerospace industries, CAM has become more consumer friendly in recent years. This is partly due to the diminishing cost barriers of 3-D printing, a process in which typically plastic- or metal-based materials are deposited layer by layer. Other CAM processes include subtractive techniques, in which material is removed from a large starting block (usually of wood or metal) until the digitally designed form is achieved. The two most common types of this technique are CNC routing and milling. Both use a movable rotating cutter guided by digital instructions that cut into and carve a starting block of material. While CAM was originally developed for industrial purposes, artists, architects, and designers have adopted it for its relative speed and cost effectiveness compared to traditional manufacturing techniques.