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Little more than a decade ago computer-aided design and manufacture (CAD/CAM) was a very esoteric field indeed, not one that was of much practical concern to a manager or industrialist unless his business was on the scale of, say, a major automobile manufacturer or in a field of high technology such as aerospace. Like so much else, this situation was revo lutionized by the invention of the silicon chip, the arrival of the micro processor and the dramatic fall in the cost of computer hardware. Today, CAD/CAM has spread down the market, and down the price scale, to the point at which it is both a feasible and an affordable technology for a wide range of small-and medium-sized companies in areas as various as architec ture and general engineering, plastic moulding and consumer electronics. But the explosion - there is no other word for it - in the variety and capabilities of CAD/CAM systems, and their spectacular climb to the top of the hi-tech hit parade, has placed the potential purchaser and user of the new technology in a difficult position. On the one hand he is assured, not least by the manufacturers of CAD/CAM equipment, that a failure to invest in it will leave his company stranded in the industrial Stone Age.