CAD is an acronym for "Computer Aided Design"
This part of the CNC process is probably one of the most important steps needed to program a machine.
To start we need to understand what the common formats are and how they are used and converted.
Below is a list of common image extentions along with a breif description of each one.
Starting with the more common formats, most of these you would have heard of either by extension or company name.
The manufacturing process involves a few steps, one being the drafting process, we just covered the formats now we need to discover some programs, unfortunatly most of the software here is not free or open source, they are propriatory.
CAD (Computer Aided Design) is any program that allows the user to design something using a PC. Many are available the more common being "AutoDesk" or "Solidworks", some free drafting programs include "Google Sketchup".
So what are common CAD programs today and what makes them so great?
Why would I use a PC when I can just use a pencil and paper?
How does CAD work?
So how does CAD and CAM fit together?
So what are common CAM programs today?
What is CAM?
How can CAM be used in fabrication of parts?
CAM is used to edit parts and Post G-code, it makes tool path generation easy for 2D and 3D cuts.
What is a post program, AKA Post Processor?
A Post-Processor, Post, Post Program, is in simple terms "meta-data" AKA, Information about information.
It's less complicated than it looks.
Meta-Data and the machine Post is just a text file, sometimes you find Meta in the form of a XML file. The file just stores machine information and settings, in the case of the "Red-Tb6560" or any other PCB control board that connects to the computer threw the DB25 or COM port, the post will just have the settings you saved last including "Ports and Pins" , and "Motor Tuning".
The web also uses Meta-Data in the form of XML, this is common for CMS's (Content Management Systems) like "Joomla", where the document holds a list of items contained within a "Template", this list includes Images, all the Documents, and any Files associated with the "Template" program. It's just information about information.
It all starts with a simple idea, and we all have them. The problem is getting the idea to become reality, to make dreams and ideas real people draft them on paper or they use computers.
Drafting has really evolved over the years, instead of trying to visual a 3D object using a sketch drawn by hand computers now allow a user to spin and change a three dimentional part. The computer also allows a designer to find errors before anything is produced, all the way down to a machine crashing. The software will even allow the designer to view the part as a metal object or plastic object.
Many programs are available, CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) is any program that takes a CAD drawing and converts the drawing to a file recognisable to a CNC mill, lathe, 3D printer, laser cutter, water jet cutter, or any other CNC machine. It does this by specifying the location of lines on a grid in the form of "G code". pulses are then sent to stepper motors and the motors move a tool along different plains.