by Marian Bozdoc

The CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) parts have evolved from the technology of Numerical Controlled (NC) machines.
Early NC machines had their own on-board electronic control systems for their servo drives and motors, and where programmed by punched paper tape.
In time, that becomes equivalent to a control stream of ASCII text data typed into a text editor. Each machine maker developed their own control code scheme, usually a very cryptic set of letters for machine actions and numbers for the values of speed, depth, etc. and position coordinates.
In NC the codes have to also control depth of tool movement and how fast to move. NC machines include a computer with a screen and keyboard. These use a "conventional" control language. Modern CAD/CAM systems automatically generate tool paths from a 3D model, and can simulate the cutting action on-screen. The display simulation varies from as rudimentary as well just allow an appreciation of what will happen, to realistic fully rendered moving images.
The most CAD/CAM systems are modular; That means you can buy whichever modules do the option you want and they integrates into a unified system.

Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) means complete integration of all aspects of manufacturing utilizing computerized information.
CIM is the use of component data created with CAD in the CAM environment.
In the other words, the part geometry for manufacturing use in computerized form is used for NC programming. This stage of development may be termed small-scale integration. The most highly developed form of CIM is the creation of a database containing all the information required for flexible manufacturing of components produced by the plant, in a form in which it can be retrieved and used by anyone who needs it. Flexible manufacturing means the ability to make any components in small numbers or well as large, quickly, at economical cost, thus reducing tool chargeones, work in process and costly inventory.
CIM also provides for inclusion of quality systems and controls in the manufacturing process, rather than applying them afterward.
Because the tangible and intangible benefits of CIM are long term, the usual discounted-cash-flow and return-on-investment methods cannot justify a CIM installation of a flexible manufacturing process frequently.
Instead, strategic advantages and intangible benefits must be used to weigh the desirability of investment in CIM.

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