Is Technology a Challenge for Students?

Why it is important for Mechanical Engineering students to know about fundamentals of CNC programming applications?

Unlike CAD, understanding CAM is critical and challenging. CAD is widely used on a virtual platform (computers). Whereas CAM is more about converting the CAD model into reality, where you need to understand the behaviour of CNC machines and have a good knowledge of cutting tools. Any small error can result in collision of machines, breakage of tools, job wastage, human accidents etc.

What is expected from a fresher in an industry with respect to CAD/ CAM?

The biggest expectation from a fresher in a CAD/CAM industry is that they need to have the basic knowledge on design concept fundamentals and CAM fundamentals. Good knowledge on any CAD/CAM software tools is appreciable. A certification directly from CAD/ CAM software developing companies will be an added advantage.

"CAD/CAM" has become a single catch-all phrase for two very different processes; modeling and machining a part, and industries are looking for candidates who have knowledge on CAD & CAM.

Are students ready for 5-axis Machining?

Two decades back industries where reluctant to move from manual programming to CNC programming and today most of the companies, to stay ahead in competition moved from traditional method to innovative machining techniques, with the help of CAD/CAM technology. Gone are the days of manual programming, and investment in the latest technology is a requirement to stay on the top in the market and compete effectively

Machinists think they don't have 5-axis work. In reality every workshop has a work that would benefit from a 5-axis machining, because a 5-axis machining centre facilitates 5-sided machining. So, even if you dont have simultaneous 5-axis work, such as impellers or turbines, the parts you are producing on your 3-axis machines wil be more profitable when you use 5-sided machining on a 5-axis machining centre.

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Today technology has further grown and there is no more a word called "complex machining", thanks to the technology which moves beyond 5-axis. It's always a key for students to understand the design of 5-axis Machine and its working methodology. The 5-axis machine has the ability to move a part or a tool on five different axes at the same time. 3-axis machining centres move a part in two directions (X and Y), and the tool moves up down (Z). 5-axis machining centres access two additional rotary axis. Today, machining is possible from 2 axis to 11 axis with the help of CNC programming softwares such as Mastercam combining with Robotmaster. With this combination machining up to 11 axis is simple and the virtual simulation process helps the user to avoid costlier mistakes like machine collision, material damage, tool damages etc.

To adapt to the fast changing technology, industries are struggling to find suitable candidates. It is high time for students to upgrade themselves on the latest technologies during their course of study.

How could students get exposed to industrial challenges with respect to the advanced manufacturing technologies?

By taking active participation in CAD/ CAM contest organised by many Corporate and Industry Associations etc., which will give the students the exposure to real-time industrial challenge. World's leading CAM software Developing companies like CNC Software Inc. (MASTERCAM) conduct competitions at the international level every year in the name of "INNOVATOR OF THE FUTURE" (IOF)

For 2014 IOF competition, Mastercam and Optimax (builders of the optics behind the latest technologies in aerospace) have teamed up to challenge young engineers to design and machine a part associated with the NASA Curiosity Rover. This competition is open to all young adult (aged 16-25) interested in a career in manufacturing that has access to Mastercam and a machine tool.

What are the best ways to learn CAM application?

There are many interactive ways of learning CAM application:

• Video Tutorials
• Authorised Training Centres
• E-learning Portals
• Manual Tutorials and Hand books
• Internship Programs
• Customer Case Study

About the Author

Thambu Siva Subramanian is a result-oriented entrepreneur, having 11+ years of B2B marketing and sales experience in Engineering Technology & FMCG industry.

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