For centuries creative people had a significant challenge in taking their ideas and converting them into usable products. Even Leonardo da Vinci had to spend months laboriously transferring his concepts from an inspiration into detailed drawings. Even then, when it came time to construct a model or device, he had to interpret the drawings and convert them by hand to usable directions.
Fortunately for inventors, manufacturers and consumers those laborious and inefficient techniques are no longer necessary. In today’s world of computerized technology even a novice can produce a highly sophisticated part or end product with the right computer, software, and an idea.
However, the capabilities presented by modern CAD/CAM go far beyond serving the creative mind. Many mundane functions, such as creating replacement parts or modifying an existing product are only a few mouse clicks away. Many products that have been successful in the market can now be upgraded or modified with the software products available to create new revenue streams and extend their useful lives.
The redesign of existing products and parts is now a vital part of many industries, none more so than the automotive field. With new cars and models coming out on an annual basis, it formerly took months or even years to prepare models and parts for the latest vehicles. Today, however, designers and engineers have new freedom to change and maximize the manufacturing process with the use of CAD/CAM software programs. In fact, the costs of redesign are now relatively insignificant, allowing a quick change to add efficiencies or eliminate a weakness in an initial design.
In fact, many firms now use these systems to design replacement and modified parts in the machine shop and immediately produce one-of items. The ability to complete such custom work opens entire new fields of opportunity for machine shops and other manufacturers. In fact, the better CAD tools today provide a machinist proven and powerful integrated tools that include 3D wireframe modeling, surface modeling and dimensioning capabilities. Combined with full editing options, a product can be designed and set up for cutting in a series of logical steps.
Other software exists to supports modern multi-stream machining centers, providing highly efficient toolpath verification and management. While these are impressive capabilities, it is the availability of these powerful programs that amaze many. It is possible for a machinist or engineer to shop online now and have a program installed and running in just a few hours.
It makes one wonder, what could da Vinci have accomplished with such powerful software?