What Is Computer-Aided Design?
Software and technology have dramatically changed the way people interact with the world around them and the way many people perform their jobs. One field where the influence of technology is palpable is the architecture and construction industry.
Computer-aided design (CAD) has changed the way architects, engineers, and other construction professionals create designs. CAD lets engineers and architects use software to produce designs in either two or three dimensions. The programs have, for the most part, replaced manual drafting and increased accuracy in the design process.
The History of CAD
CAD is by no means a new technology. It has been around for decades, with some of the first CAD programs developed in the 1960s. An early example of CAD was a program called “SketchPad.” Designers using SketchPad drew directly onto a computer screen with a stylus.
Nearly two decades later, AutoCAD, design software that worked on microcomputers (computers designed for home use), was introduced. While earlier CAD programs required mainframe computers (which are considerably larger than the computers used at home), AutoCAD was able to run as a desktop application on a computer with a built-in graphics controller.
The development of AutoCAD allowed the use of CAD to expand to more industries. Compared to earlier CAD programs, AutoCAD was also easier to learn and use.
Why Use CAD?
Architects, engineers, and designers use CAD for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is that the software is often much easier to use compared to drawing and drafting using a pencil and paper. You can make changes and corrections much more easily on a computer program than you can on paper.
While CAD software is far from perfect, it tends to be much more accurate when it comes to design than a manual process. A computer design program can let you know if a particular design is likely to have issues or to fail completely. Those programs can be much harder to detect when a design is created by hand.
In many cases, CAD software can perform virtual simulations, allowing you to test the strength and durability of a design, without producing a physical prototype. The software speeds up the design process and makes it easier to make corrections when needed.
What Careers Use CAD?
A variety of industries, such as architecture and construction, use computer-aided design. The people who use CAD are commonly known as drafters, as they draft designs of a variety of products using the software programs.
Often, it’s the responsibility of a drafter to take a rough idea or sketch from a designer or architect and transform it into a workable design. The type of products a drafter designs depends in large part on the industry they work in. Some examples of specializations and industries include:
- Architectural drafters: Produce designs for buildings and construction projects. A drafter might specialize in commercial designs or residential buildings or might specialize in a particular type of material.
- Mechanical drafters: Produce designs for equipment, such as medical devices or construction tools.
- Civil drafters: Create designs for infrastructure projects, such as highways and bridges.
- Electronics drafters: Design circuit boards and other electrical devices.
Drafters who use CAD generally have a combination of creative and analytical skills. They need to be creative enough to transform a rough idea or plan into a workable design. They also need to have sufficient tech skills to work their way around software programs.
Increasingly, through the use of CAD, more and more engineers and architects are performing the design work themselves.
How Can You Learn More About Computer-Aided Design?
If you’re interested in learning more about computer-aided design or in pursuing a career as a drafter or in the architecture and construction industry, it can be worthwhile to complete a CAD career certificate. Orange Technical College offers a CAD certificate program at our Mid Florida Campus.
During the program, you’ll learn modeling and CAD skills that will allow you to pursue a career as a drafter in construction, architecture, engineering, or manufacturing. The program also prepares you to take and pass the exams to become an Autodesk AutoCAD Certified User, Autodesk Inventor Certified User, or Autodesk Revit Architecture Certified User.
- 50 Years of CAD, Design World, https://www.designworldonline.com/50-years-of-cad
- What is Computer-Aided Design?, Techopedia, https://www.techopedia.com/definition/2063/computer-aided-design-cad
- Drafters, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/drafters.htm#tab-1