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Feb 11, 2020

The Difference Between CAD and CAM

Both CAD and CAM are essential tools in designing and manufacturing. As waves of new technology spark the industry, CAD/CAM software continues to help engineers streamline design, prototyping, and much more. While CAD and CAM are often used synonymously, or as a pair, they perform entirely different tasks, both of which are incredibly important to production within a company. So what is the difference between CAD and CAM? SAi, leaders in CAD/CAM software, are taking a closer look.

Take a look below as we explore these different types of tools and how their advancements have really driven business within the manufacturing space. Find the best CAD/CAM software on the market to enhance day-to-day operations.

best cad cam software

What is CAD?

CAD stands for computer-aided design. This is the use of computers to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, function or application of design. Companies and individuals that use CAD software increase their productivity and quickly create designs. They also improve the quality of their designs. CAD software creates a database for the manufacturing of the computer-aided design.

What is CAM?

CAM is computer-aided manufacturing. CAM is also known as computer-aided modeling or computer-aided machining. CAM involves the use of software to control machine tools in the manufacturing of workpieces. With the correct, precise instructions CAM creates a toolpath or map which tells the manufacturing machines the exact cuts that need to be made, creating an accurate product.

Main Differences Between CAD and CAM

Many people are puzzled about the difference between CAD and CAM software. CAD is concerned with only the creation of a design. This design may later be fed into computer-aided machines to create manufactured products through the use of a CAM program.

CAM tools differ from CAD tools. For CAD only a computer and CAD software are required for a technician or graphic artist to create a design.

CAM machines include a computer and, often, a CAM software package. But, in addition, the manufacturing process requires a CAM machine. This is a three or five axis control machining center compatible, high-end, high-speed engine or machine. Check out this video, which demonstrates computer-aided manufacturing.

cad cam software application


While the difference between CAD and CAM is definitive, there are also many similarities between the two. Both computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing use a computer software program and both require technicians who are computer literate and know how to use CAD/CAM software.

Both software programs are dependent on computer operators to feed the right instructions so that the product fits the client’s specifications.

Computer-aided design is often used in combination with computer-aided machining. After the design has been created using computer-aided design software, it is exported to the CAM software program that sends instructions to CAM tools or machines to create the actual two-dimensional or three-dimensional product.

Common Misconceptions

CAD and CAM software programs have some amazing end-products. However, without a knowledgeable operator skilled in the use of CAD/CAM software it is difficult for them to get the result they desire.

First, a professional has to receive information from the client and translate this into a computer-aided design. Then, a CAM operator must feed the resulting design information into computer-aided machines through CAM software so that the machines cut a product to the exact needs of the client.

The combination of software and machine can create miraculously detailed and accurate projects. However, without skilled operators to design and program the machines, these creations would not exist.

using cad cam software together

How Do These Tools Allow Businesses to Harness Technology?

Through computer-aided manufacturing, computerized systems control the operations at a manufacturing plant—regardless of the product.

These computerized systems help manufacturers not only in the creation of the product but in related operations such as planning, transportation, management, and storage.

CAM software improves manufacturing quality and speed. It also helps manufacturers streamline their time-to-market capacity. These tools make companies more competitive.

CAD/CAM software reduces waste of raw materials. Speed and accuracy also ensure that time and materials are not wasted. Product costs are kept low. This leads to higher customer retention and client satisfaction.

Potential customer satisfaction is higher as the product is highly accurate. Speed of production means a client order arrives on time. Through the use of CAM software, packaging, delivery, and billing are accurate.

Specific Areas Aided by CAD/CAM

Computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing software is used in almost every manufacturing process today.

When you think of manufacturing, you may associate it with the automotive industry. Indeed it is used there not only to create concept cars and similar products but also in the everyday car manufacturing plant.

CAD and CAM are also used to create and manufacture products in the textile and interior decorating sectors.

Creation of some technical, medical and dental instruments and products relies on computer-aided design.

Software programs facilitate several manufacturing processes including:

  • Flame and plasma cutting
  • Laser cutting
  • Hole punching or drilling
  • Bending
  • Sawing
  • Spinning
  • Pinning
  • Routing and milling
  • Gluing
  • Picking and placing
  • CNC Machining

difference between cad and cam software

Why SAi EnRoute CAD/CAM Design Software?

SAi Enroute CAD/CAM software has been widely used and trusted in machining shops for years. It is reliable, cost-competitive, and offers several payment options so that very small to large businesses can select the payment option which best suits their needs.

Support is vital as new software is introduced to shop staff. SAi support personnel are only a phone call or a click of your mouse away. Custom training is also available in 2 or 4 hour blocks.

To be competitive, anyone providing machining services must have a CAD/CAM system that streamlines its manufacturing operations. SAi EnRoute CAD/CAM software provides a user-friendly interface that has enough breadth to be used by every operation from beginning, novice to highly experienced and skilled professionals.

  1. SAi EnRoute software assists manufacturers in improving their machining capabilities. For example, when a manufacturer takes on a complex 3-axis machining task, they rely on the combination software to create a tool path for machining projects such as molding. The CAM system automates the process and makes it easier for manufacturers to complete the project in time.
  2. SAi EnRoute CAD/CAM software allows manufacturers to receive CAD files directly from their customers. This avoids miscommunication between client and manufacturer and speeds up the manufacturing process. Once manufacturers receive CAD files from the client, they can then set up the machining tool path.
  3. SAi EnRoute software has the capability to perform simulations. Thus, before a product is produced both the manufacturer and the client can see the prototype and approve it. If alterations are required, these can be done with SAi EnRoute software before machining of the final product.
  4. SAi EnRoute CAD/CAM softwares simulation feature reduces material waste since both the client and the manufacturer can visually inspect the product before the final process of machining occurs.
  5. SAi software helps manufacturers avoid errors, execute projects easily, and deliver products to the client with a short turnaround time.
  6. SAi EnRoute CAD/CAM software improves machine productivity. The system provides high–speed machine tool paths. This reduces tool and machine wear. High-speed tool paths facilitate the improved cutting quality and accuracy by at least 50%.