Computer-Aided Design or CAD as it is more widely known, is the process of using software to create, modify, analyze and optimize the labor-intensive design work. This is done with the help of computers and dates back from the 1970s. Continuously improving, the CAD software opened a new realm of possibilities to the engineers.
Once divided into departments sometimes not well connected with each other, the time consuming work took its time toll. Now, with the help of CAD the product can be created from start to materialization from a single department, up to the stage where it will be ready for initial testing. It can be drawn, changed and optimized to a point almost ready for its final evaluation. Where once wood, pencil, eraser, ruler and much more were needed, now – only a mouse and a keyboard would do.
Computer-Aided Design eliminates a lot of errors. In the process of elimination, time-frame is drastically shortened, hence financing is spread out throughout more important stages of the development, where real-world testing would require those money more. After all, the computer process can work up to some level of the creation. The product then has to leave its digital stage and appear in its physical form.
Computer-Aided Design can be 2D or 3D. While in the past 2D drawings were the standard, nowadays almost everything has its 3D representation, even sometimes eliminating the 2D drawings completely. The whole digitalization process opened different possibilities. One of the most important being – using different materials. Where once strange shapes and forms were considered highly unlikely to be used, now they fit the narrative with ease.
It all starts with drawing of the project, but now it is not called drawing anymore, nor a blueprint. It is called under the common denominator – design. Not a bad idea, although somewhat generalizing in its essence.
CAD software uses vector based graphics to depict objects typical for the traditional drafting. Sometimes, raster files are used as well. However, unlike in conventional drafting, here information embedded in the file can provide more data about dimensions, materials and tolerances. Something unthinkable only 60 or so years ago. All that innovation translates the old methods into the digital age we are living in. The paper and pencil are in the past. That goes for every design, although as we all know – CAD is being famous mostly for its use in automotive, aerospace and shipbuilding industries. If you look closer though – it is used for nearly everything we encounter in our daily lives.