Supporting information and resources.


What is Computer Aided Design (CAD)?

Computer Aided Design (CAD) is mainly used for detailed engineering of 3D models and 2D drawings of physical components, but it is also used throughout the engineering process from conceptual design and layout of products, through strength and dynamic analysis of assemblies to definition of manufacturing methods of components. The designed product on the computer can be tested, modified and finalised for real production.

See the Associated files below for details about the main applications of CAD/CAM.

What is Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)?

CAM is used for planning the different manufacturing operations to create a product. CAM involves milling, drilling, turning, punching, wire EDM (Electric discharge machining sometimes also referred to as spark eroding), knife, laser and plasma cutting and additive manufacturing (3D printing). CAM uses data from CAD software to control automated machinery and generate tool paths to ensure the part machined is the same as the model.

See the Associated files below for:

  • details about the main applications of CAD/CAM
  • output to CAM

Why teach CAD/CAM?

The obvious answer is that modern industry uses CAD/CAM and students need to have some awareness of what this means in terms of product design and manufacture and also the effect on consumers. Not all students will work in industry but there is a more realistic application in schools. If CAD/CAM really means computers (and other digital devices) can aid design and manufacture then it’s worth using in a school context too.

The key benefits of CAD/CAM in schools are to develop:

  • the ability to model, adapt and develop ideas
  • three-dimensional visualisation
  • an understanding of the need for quality and precision in making
Where ICT, and particularly CAD and CAM, were readily available to support designing and making, they made a good contribution to students’ learning. In the best practice observed, computer based equipment was used effectively with traditional machines and hand tools to develop and extend students’ understanding and experience of materials and their knowledge of current manufacturing processes. This had a positive impact on the precision of making, as it enabled students to work to fine tolerances and resulted in students achieving a professional quality in the products they made.
Ofsted 2011: Meeting technological challenges? Design and Technology in schools 2007–10

See the Associated files below, information includes:

  • how CAD/CAM will help students design and make
  • further quotes from Ofsted illustrating the importance of CAD/CAM in School.

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