What is CAD?

Most people have heard of CAD, the topic is touched on in school technology departments, but what exactly is CAD, and why do people use it?

CAD stands for computer aided design, and is quite simply just that.It is defined by Wikipedia as “the use of computer systems to assist in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design. CAD software is used to increase the productivity of the designer, improve the quality of design, improve communications through documentation, and to create a database for manufacturing.”

CAD (or Computer Aided Design) enables engineers to design products on a computer screen and whilst retaining a digital copy which can be easily updated and amended, allowing for print out for future editing or filing. It allows engineers and operators to save time by designing one product instead of multiple ones, or if multiple variations on a design are needed, they can clone the original and provide variations from that. CAD is used in the manufacturing process as well as construction because it allows designers to lay down their designs digitally, avoiding the need for paper and thereby saving both space and money, while creating new equipment needed by different industries around the world.

It was spawned in the early 1960s, when Patrick Hanratty and Ivan Sutherland designed DAC as a program that allowed users to interact with an interface using graphics. It also included programming for numerical control systems which were used in industry at the time.

The origins of CAD trace back to this time when Patrick Hanratty and Ivan Sutherland who worked together on developing a system called DAC during their employment at General Electric Company (GEC). The purpose was twofold: it would allow GEC workers easy access to data by providing them with interactive computer-aided design capabilities while concurrently working towards automating certain tasks through programs written specifically for numerical controlled machine tools or NC machines where specific instructions are provided via punched tapes sent from computers.

The idea of computer assisted drawing and design however had been around since the 1950s. Chronologically, the first programs were developed in 1963 by Ivan Sutherland, who called his system Sketchpad. In 1971 a program called ADAM, developed by Hanratty, was released that became one of the most widely used CAD systems to date.

The first commercially available integrated, interactive graphics design, drafting and manufacturing system was called ADAM. It can be traced back to Sutherland’s Sketchpad which had a light pen as the primary input device for engineering drawings on CRT screen in 1963.

ADAM, the first CAD system for microcomputers that was able to run on 16-bit and 32-bit systems. ADAM’s name changed from ADAC (Automatic Drafting/Design Automation Corporation) in 1984 when it went by the acronym “AD 2000,” which had more machining and surfacing capabilities than its previous version of itself.

Who Uses CAD?

CAD is used throughout a number of fields, from architectural to automotive, chemical, food and drink, general engineering, manufacturing, mechanical engineering, pharmaceutical, rail, telecommunications and many more.

CAD is used to design and draft everything from buildings to bridges, motorways, aircrafts, ships, cars, cameras, phones, televisions and much more, and is used throughout the design process from the theoretical design or layout right through to the engineering of the components.

What is the Purpose of CAD?

CAD is an engineering software that enables the design process to be optimized. CAD allows engineers to create more accurate representations and modify them easily, ensuring a higher quality of work. In addition, it takes into account how various materials interact: this makes its use especially relevant for subcontractors who provide additional details in their designs which will then be incorporated by other parties involved with building the product or structure being designed

Today, cloud storage and access means that contractors can access to CAD-based drawings/plans at the worksite, wherever they are in the world. Entire teams can check out plan modifications easily, including the contractor and subcontractors, and interactivity means a shorter design process without the need for constant revisions.

Effective CAD use will help to create a more comprehensive design and fewer surprises during construction.

The construction industry has been transformed by the technological impact of CAD. It used to be a job for skilled workers, but now it’s more like technology work and requires all sorts of advanced knowledge in computers and design programs. The days of draughtsmen have long since gone.

How can CAD help you?

CAD can be used for many purposes, including designing products and the layout of rooms. It’s also helpful when drafting details or calculations are needed to create 3-D representations that allow users to see how a product would look in real life before it is manufactured. CAD can even help with interfacing between business personnel like marketing teams and manufacturing plants who want their ideas integrated into computerised drawings created using this software program

CAD software can be used to create and edit diagrams quickly, which is a major advantage. This allows for the testing of different versions easily and efficiently before committing it to print or other final product. The use of CAD means that there are no limitations on viewing angles as compared with manual drawing methods

In addition to precise engineering of 2D or 3D models, CAD is widely used from conceptual design and layout to manufacturing. This software reduces time spent on designing by allowing simulation instead of physical prototyping; this integration with CAM streamlines product development even more.

CAD is currently widely used for industrial products, animated movies and other applications. CAD programs use either vector-based graphics or raster graphics that show how an object will look. A special printer or plotter is usually required for printing professional design renderings

CAD software options

These days, we recognise four different grouping of software types, namely:

  • 2D CAD
  • 3D CAD
  • 3D Wireframe and Surface Modelling
  • Solid Modelling

These different types of software have some very specific applications, though most of them can be used across a range of industries and design types.

Benefits of CAD software

Today, the use of CAD has permeated almost all industries including aerospace, electronics to manufacturing. Since CAD encourages creativity and speeds up productivity it is becoming more useful as a tool for visualization before actually implementing a process. This also makes training in this area important today

The benefits to a business are:

  • Speed of design
  • Efficiency and cost of design
  • Ability to vary designs without redrawing from scratch
  • Improved productivity
  • Better record keeping