Eye on Integration (CAD/CAM Systems)
While its design capabilities are constantly evolving, the modern CAD/CAM system has yet to reach its potential as part of the manufacturing process.
by Jessica Millward, Associate Editor
THE FUTURE OF Computer Aided Design extends far beyond the lines and angles of a diecut pattern. As the converting industry strives to maximize efficiency within the manufacturing process, the communication among all information systems driving production becomes critical. While CAD/CAM systems continue to improve graphic and design capabilities, the ultimate hope for CAD technology is its complete integration with the other information systems employed in packaging manufacture.
The big picture
"A well-designed CAD/CAM system should be the heart of … each manufacturing operation," insists Kevin Carey, editor of DieInfo Magazine. He emphasizes the importance of information gathering to the improvement of the entire converting process: "Each production job requires information at each stage to proceed, each process will generate new or update existing information, and this accumulated knowledge will roll through the process, making each task easier to execute."
Though it may necessitate an overhaul in the fundamentals of CAD/CAM design, the reshaping of the technology as an all-encompassing system is a necessary step in the advancement of package printing. Carey praises the CAD/CAM improvements made in design, graphic image generation, and diecutting integration, but qualifies, "… Although laudable efforts, they continue to ignore the bigger information management picture."
Software manufacturers themselves recognize this need for linked process elements. Yavor Djonev, CEO at EngView Systems, remarks on the value of better connection between the structural design and graphics design/prepress processes. He observes, "… currently sheet layouts are mostly designed with the printing process in mind—if the diecutting process is also considered, this may result in efficiency gains."
Djonev admits there hasn't been revolutionary progress in package design or in CAD/CAM usage outside the design room. New features introduced with upcoming versions of software, however, point to suppliers working toward that aim.