Computer aided manufacture (CAM) is central to many production systems, enabling a large range of processes to be carried out using technology. computer numerical controlled (CNC) machines incorporate high-spec precision from a computer aided design (CAD) to manufacture a product. CNC can produce products by turning, milling or routing. It can also be utilised to cut, engrave, heat cut and even print in solid materials.
|Advantages of CAM||Disadvantages of CAM|
|Fast||High initial cost|
|Accurate||Maintenance of machines is required|
|Can be repeated easily||Workers need training|
|Less labour intensive||Less workforce is needed|
A laser cutter is a high-precision CAM machine that cuts a wide variety of materials using an extremely powerful laser beam directed onto the material using angled mirrors. The power setting can be varied - if the power is reduced or the speed is too high, then the laser beam will not cut completely through the material and will engrave it instead.
Timber and polymers can often be cut easily using a laser cutter - it is possible to cut other materials such as glass and metal, but the power of the laser will need to be higher. The process enables rapid prototyping and reduces material wastage, therefore reducing costs. It achieves cleaner edges compared with other CNC processes, and can be repeated with very little set up cost.