What is CAD?
CAD is an acronym for computer-aided-design. It is a design software tool used by engineers, artist, architects, designers, and drafters. CAD software can be used to create precise 2 or 3 dimensional drawings, analysis, or technical documentation. Before CAD software was available, engineers would have to hand draw every design on a large drafting desk covered in drafting paper. Tools like rulers, scales, pens, protractors, and etc. were used. Design changes required erasers and plenty of patience. Mistakes were unforgiving and would often require a drafter to restart the drawing all over again. Once the design was complete a prototype would be built and tested only to find out there was a small issue with the design, causing the drafting process to restart. Thanks to computer technology and CAD software an engineers woes have been minimized.
As stated before CAD allows for creating a physical 3D model of an object which can later be used to create 2D drawings. 2D drawings are used to communicate an engineers intent for the manufacturing process. What are the benefits of an engineer using CAD software for a design?
1. It increases an engineers efficiency.
a. Having a physical model the engineer can now visualize the final product and make design changes on the go.
b. An engineer can analyze and test designs without building a prototype using various CAD tools.
c. An engineer can optimize designs by defining desired parameters and using the available CAD tools.
d. Animations can be created and design functions can be visualized without building prototypes
2. Bridges engineering and manufacturing
a. Once designs are complete and 3D models have been finalized 2D drawings can be made with proper dimensions. If the design changes, the 2D drawings will automatically update
b. BOMs and cut-lists can be automatically populated
c. 3D files can be saved in computer-aided-manufacturing formats
d. Files can easily be transferred to 3D printers for rapid prototyping
3. Data management becomes more efficient.
a. CAD files can be stored in a database and managed by revisions
b. Since all files are electronic they are all clean and legible
c. Everything can be drawn on a 1:1 scale
With all of the advantages that come with using CAD software as an engineering tool, laziness can be a CAD users worst enemy. If definitions such as blocks or references are not done correctly from the start, updating a parts design may prove to be more difficult than restarting the design from the beginning. Above user awareness, CAD software prices and continuous updates often make it impossible for engineers to use them outside of their job or school system.
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