Computer-aided design (CAD) refers to computers being used to assist the design process in all sorts of industries. With CAD software, it’s possible to build an entire model in an imaginary space, letting you visualize properties like height, width, distance, material, or color before the model is used for a particular application.
It was 1962 when the computer scientist Ivan Sutherland created the first computer graphic program, known as “SketchPad”, which allowed people to write or draw simple figures directly on a screen with the help of a special pencil. This marked the start of all future CAD software.
At first, CAD was used only for research purposes, but in the 1970s, big automotive and aerospace companies started developing their own software, expanding its applications to other industries in the 1980s. It wasn’t until the 1990s that tools like CATIA and AutoCAD were born, making it possible to be used in many professional sectors.
There are several benefits of using CAD as a design and analysis tool:
Why is this technology so important for many professionals? Here are a few of the biggest professional sectors that rely on CAD:
As we’ve discussed, CAD is a visualizing tool that involves 2D drawings and 3D models, but how can you convert them into physical objects? Here’s where computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) comes in. CAM uses numeric control software that encodes automated instructions for a specific machine, processing the data for manufacturing methods like
CAD and CAM work better when they’re integrated because they provide more control over the design and fabrication process.
CAD has proven to be a problem solver for many professional areas, so it’s generally difficult to find drawbacks. There are, however, limitations:
Hardware can vary wildly depending on the content you’re going to produce. There are three main elements that you need to be wary of in order to set up a good workstation for your CAD needs:
These days, CAD is in constant evolution, bringing updates and new features with every new version of a particular tool. And that on top of the huge range of options available for different professional use cases.
Tools are becoming more powerful by the year. Some new projects involve AI, as is the case with Autodesk’s experimental software Dreamcatcher, which is not only a visualization tool but also a generative design program that gives designers the best solution given specific parameters.
According to Andreas Vlahinos, CTO at Advanced Engineering Solutions, someday we’ll need CAD software to emulate human intelligence in order to realize some tasks, thus “smart” CAD software is potentially lying in wait in the future.
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