With the recent and otherwise advancements in technology and specifically in CAD, one is left amazed with what human beings have been able to accomplish. From skyscrapers and theme parks to jumbo jets and Formula1 race cars, every design is nowadays aided by computers. But for those involved in the field, whether professionally or as a hobbyist, the limitations of CAD in today’s demanding industry are well-recognized ones.
CAD vs CAM
First off, CAD is for designing and helps you see the finished product is a soft form or virtual form without actually having put anything physically together. With CAM, the users involved can view the whole manufacturing process and a virtual preview of the results before the cogs truly start moving.
With that, one note should be kept in mind. This article is about the limitations of CAD/CAM technology as well as discipline and does not differentiate between the arguments in a “pros versus cons” manner. The following is how the powerful and flawless CAD/CAM software packages and practices have yet to evolve:
Tool vs Technology
CAD and CAM are tools and let’s face it; the skill of the designer is the most important factor in the design. The computer can tell you what the finish will look like when you click on a different texture, but whether you want a wooden or marble floor will ultimately be up to the user. In an example different from domestic scenarios, when designing a car, the computer simulation will tell the designer how effective each design is, but which design to choose based on aesthetic appeal overriding the efficacy criteria is up to the designer not the software package.
Bill of Materials (BOMs) and other practices exist within CAD/CAM for examining the efficacy of the design, but that’s where it ends. Not only that, even these facilities are disjoint and do not address all the questions that a designer or otherwise related personnel might have. At best, the feasibility reporting modules provide estimations based on template designs and are not equipped for integrated functionality across, partially due to the vast array of CAD elements and the lack of standardization as well as internationalization efforts for them.
Have you ever placed a cover over a screw hole which made the screw inaccessible? Did you find out after the design was complete or a prototype had already been produced? That’s because CAD is limited in its context. When designing a lighting and rendering plug-in, this context is extremely necessary because in the real world physical and opaque objects block light. However, when merely designing, the ease of access to parts or the ease of maintenance due to design is not something the CAD package will be able to warn you about. This is different from the first point because here it’s not just a matter of the designer’s skill. Mindfulness, experience and objectivity are all requirements that the software package will be unable to provide.
Virtual vs Physical
The ideal and the real always differ. The virtual or theoretical are always a notch above the applied and practical and CAD software packages are no different. When drawing or designing, the user is an operator of the CAD package and must think according to his or her training in this discipline. A manual craftsman who crafts the same ceramic lamp by hand will obviously have a much better understanding of the product as well as the process, whereas the CAD user will understand the elements of the task at hand coupling it with his/her adeptness of the technology only.
This limits the CAD user in his/her subsequent applicability derived out of experience as the experience was partial to begin with.
Training Curve is Fixed
Like all software package types and disciplines, CAD has hobbyists too. So the operation of the software is one part of the learning process. The other is the design engineering part. Because of the nature of the discipline, the training curve for becoming, first a CADer, second a design engineer is a lengthy, dynamic, challenging one. Not to mention multi-faceted (engineering, drafting, drawing, designing, modelling etc.). And it is fixed at that, since such skills are prerequisites.
Collaboration Vs Integration
Modules and software packages exist that allow teams of many users collaborate with each other, but often at the expense of other constrained anomalies. Third party packages often pose security risks even if they are fully compatible with your equipment/technology, after which the chances of backward compatibility will leave you starring at your archived projects with awe. Tools allow communication but multi-lateral, hierarchy-provisioned communication that can aid the management as well as the operational body is still a dream for today’s solutions and their user-base.
Having gone through these arguments, the world of CAD still does not lose its charm. It’s way too big to be standardized all the same, and is sprouting out of its roots at a phenomenal pace every second of every day. Moreover, the conception of Concord airliner is noteworthy. It was designed at a time when CAD was in its infancy, with calculators, pens and paper.
The demand For CAD/CAM technology and its impact has the hardware and software industry tackling each other head to head and all the commotion is friction to the potential acceleration in advancement waiting just around a virtually congruent corner.