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CAD/CAM Software and 3D Printing: The Return of Artisans

[ 0 ] Posted by on April 24, 2013

CAD CAM 3D Printing

The new development of specialised design and manufacturing software, coupled with the new development and increasing accessibility and sophistication of 3D printing, could potentially kick off a new age in global innovation and technological advancements. Until recently private individuals had to take enormous risks to privately invent and produce new technologies. Because of this most technological advancements in the last hundred years or so have come out of large corporations that could afford to fund research and development in their fields. Now, or soon, private individuals may be able to catch up and compete with big businesses again.

What is CAD/CAM?

CAD/CAM is Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing. That means hardware and software that help people to invent, design, and produce whatever they can put their minds to. The first application of this method was way back in the 60s, but the lack of sophistication in the supporting technology limited its effectiveness. As these programs became more advanced they became popular for a large number of applications from architecture to large scale production, but they were ill suited for use by everyday people due to size constraints and specialised applications on the production end. All of that began to change with the advent of the 3D printer.

CAD/CAM and 3D Printing

Because 3D printers are relatively small, as cheap as 500 dollars, and extremely versatile, they’ve completely revolutionized the use of CAD/CAM software. That’s because it’s now generating demand outside of the corporate sphere, where it’s been languishing for most of its existence. As 3d printers proliferate and become a common household item (which they will because of their affordable price) and materials for printing become more sophisticated people will create their own product designs and marketing them to each other, completely bypassing the current corporate structure.

Decentralisation of Production

Currently large corporations are profitable because they can produce goods rapidly at low cost. The speed is necessary because every hour that a production plant is open is time that workers have to be paid. Besides the people on the production floor (who are usually paid poorly) the money made on each unit needs to compensate the massive bureaucratic management structure that handles everything from logistics, to human resources, to quality control. By producing items at home, by merely purchasing designs directly from their source designers or design companies, the vast majority of the supporting structural cost is eliminated.  More importantly the issue of production rate is entirely eliminated because the deliverable is now the design rather than the end product. That means no production floor, and no management structure required. Designs could be bought on the web, reviewed for quality by other users, and produced in the consumer’s own printer.

Of course this radical shift is also dependent on a variety of other factors that may or may not fall (or remain) in place, but for the moment it gives us something to strive for that can lead to a brighter future for everyone.

Kyle writes about 3D imaging and modeling, plastic engineering, and b2b marketing. He’s currently writing for http://manufacturingsuppliersguide.com/ , which provides information on a variety of topics including cad/cam software, 3D printing, and manufacturing software.

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About Jakk: Jakk Ogden is the founder of Technology Blogged. 25, with a love for good writing, you'll find Jakk playing 'Drag Racing' on his Nexus 5 and rocking a pair of Grado headphones. If you love technology, be sure to subscribe to his feed for unique editorials. View author profile.

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