Computer aided design/computer aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software gives businesses a powerful way to create a drawing of a product or component — and then interface with a machine that can make the product from metal or other materials. A good software package allows you to: Boost your project's efficiency by creating a virtual prototype. Easily track changes to a design before it goes to the manufacturing or building stage. Increase the accuracy of detail by allowing all the members of the design team to seamlessly interact. Choose your application Start with the output that you require for the type of machine tool that you want to use, and use the manufacturing tool's requirements as your first stage for eliminating solutions. Next, look at features, ease-of-use, cost, vendor support options and availability of training materials or classes. Get an industry-specific solution Several software manufacturers offer software programs that have been specifically designed for certain industries. Common industries that have their own custom applications include tool and die manufacturing and mechanical engineering. Get training Buying a CAD/CAM package is just the start. Training your staff and retraining to keep up with the upgrades is a major consideration. In addition to selecting CAD/CAM software, you generally want to have an experienced machinist or manufacturing expert on-hand to help you put the software into production. When you choose CAD/CAM software, it's important to pay attention to the PC requirements, but even more important to select a solution that will interface with your manufacturing tool of choice. If your CAD/CAM software won't run the machine, it should be able to export data that can be utilized by your machine tool. In addition, you may want features like the ability to calculate project costs, share drawings across your organization, and convert or export drawings into a variety of formats.