by December 2, 2010 0 comments

Patanjali Pahwa

CAD/CAM has been traditionally associated with the Aerospace and Automobile industry. But the concepts of design, manufacture, inspection and reverse engineering are increasingly being used in fields far removed from the usual. Though CAD/CAM’s ‘bread and butter’ comes from the conventional sources the customers are now, ‘in a huge range of industries from Automotive to Aerospace to footwear and jewellery,’ said Clive Martell, Managing Director, Delcam, at an event organized by the company in Pune recently.

This was one of the first verticals explored by CAD/CAM. ‘It isn’t as easy as it looks,’ said Vineet Seth, Managing Director- India and Middle East, Delcam. Each shoe is made up of different parts-the sole and the upper. Each part is made separately and possibly in different locations. The sole has to be designed to comply with angles and foot types.The raw material to the sole is laid on the machine, which is configured with the CAD/CAM software that has the intricacies of the sole imprint, which includes different colours that have to be introduced on the sole. Footwear has been now focussed as medical aid, sports enhancer, luxury applications and preventive medicine.

Orthopaedic, Dental apps
Orthopaedics is the most exciting field where CAD/CAM has made inroads. It treats every prosthetic limb geometrically. ‘The fitting is a lot better and the precision is greater,’ said Krishna Shetty, Biorad. Shetty used Delcam’s PowerMILL to shape primarily knee joints. Traditionally these prosthetics were manufactured by hand and were in a single generic design for each foot. The introduction of engineering software helps it customise not only size but also bend and flexibility according to the doctor’s recommendation. The dental vertical has also seen a similar effect, where to introduce a new cap or a tooth has seen a radical change in time as well as energy. It has reduced costs and encouraged automation.
‘Traditionally in the dental industry it was manually done-waxings, cast-ups, designing.

Art is where the rules of geometry are thrown out of the window. ‘There is freedom to do anything on a cast,’ said Seth. ArtCAM is now applied to jewellery design, wooden panelling and even chocolate.

Automobiles and Aerospace
The entire CAD/CAM industry functions on clients in Automobile and Aerospace. But the approach and the style have changed, so says Seth. ‘The new material now used to construct an airline body is composites,’ he said. ‘The behaviour of composites is slightly unpredictable and it is bad at retaining shape.’ Each constituent hence requires constant supervision, and there has to be a constant change in value of the coordinates to prevent any on flight mishaps.
In Automobiles, the approach has remained the same but a few additions have been made to the CAD/CAM process. The software does not only define the chassis of the car but now also the cushions. ‘The cushions can be modelled on body type,’ Seth explained, ‘each part of the cushion can be now done made to order.’

CAD/CAM with Open Source (; 
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