BRIEF HISTORY OF CAD/CAM DEVELOPMENT

Design and Development - Comments Off - Posted on February, 4 at 12:06 pm

The roots of current CAD/CAM technologies go back to the beginning of civilization when engineers in ancient Egypt recognized graphics communication. Orthographic projection practiced today was invented around the 1800’s. The real development of CAD/CAM systems started in the 1950s. CAD/CAM went through four major phases of development in the last century.

The 1950’s was known as the era of interactive computer graphics. MIT’s Servo Mechanisms Laboratory demonstrated the concept of numerical control (NC) on a three-axis milling machine. Development in this era was slowed down by the shortcomings of computers at the time. During the late 1950’s the development of Automatically Programmed Tools (APT) began and General Motors explored the potential of interactive graphics.

The 1960s was the most critical research period for interactive computer graphics. Ivan Sutherland developed a sketchpad system, which demonstrated the possibility of creating drawings and altercations of objects interactively on a cathode ray tube (CRT). The term CAD started to appear with the word ‘design’ extending beyond basic drafting concepts. General Motors announced their DAC-1 system and Bell Technologies introduced the GRAPHIC 1 remote display system.

During the 1970’s, the research efforts of the previous decade in computer graphics had begun to be fruitful, and potential of interactive computer graphics in improving productivity was realized by industry, government and academia. The 1970’s is characterized as the golden era for computer drafting and the beginning of ad hoc instrumental design applications. National Computer Graphics Association (NCGA) was formed and Initial Graphics Exchange Specification (IGES) was initiated.

In the 1980’s, new theories and algorithms evolved and integration of various elements of design and manufacturing was developed. The major research and development focus was to expand CAD/CAM systems beyond three-dimensional geometric designs and provide more engineering applications.

The present day CAD/CAM development focuses on efficient and fast integration and automation of various elements of design and manufacturing along with the development of new algorithms. There are many commercial CAD/CAM packages available for direct usages that are user-friendly and very proficient.

Below are some of the commercial packages in the present market.

• AutoCAD and Mechanical Desktop are some low-end CAD software systems, which are mainly used for 2D modeling and drawing.

• NX, Pro-E, CATIA and I-DEAS are high-end modeling and designing software systems that are costlier but more powerful. These software systems also have computer aided manufacturing and engineering analysis capabilities.

• Ansys, Abaqus, Nastran, Fluent and CFX are packages mainly used for analysis of structures and fluids. Different software are used for different proposes. For example, Fluent is used for fluids and Ansys is used for structures.

• Alibre and CollabCAD are some of the latest CAD systems that focus on collaborative design, enabling multiple users of the software to collaborate on computer-aided design over the Internet.

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