5 Things You Should Know About Computer Aided Design, A Product Engineer's Secret Weapon

CAD, or Computer-Aided Design is a powerful tool used across the industry to design some of your favorite products and buildings.
Donovan Alexander

So you want to be a product engineer? Or, maybe you want to take your place among the great architects and use your vision to design things that inspire people across the globe?

That’s great, but to get there it's going to take a lot of blood sweat and tears as well as a mastery of the tools needed to bring your concept to life.

One of the best ways to embrace a new career path is to familiarize yourself with the tools that the greats use daily.

If you were to enter into either of these professions, there is a high chance that you will need to know CAD, the lifeblood of these industries.

Don’t know what CAD is, or why it is even used? Today is your lucky day.

5 Things You Should Know About Computer Aided Design, A Product Engineer's Secret Weapon
Source: AutoDesk

CAD or computer-aided design is a staple of the product engineer, architecture, commercial product designer, and general design community.

Now, more than ever designers are creating, developing, and bringing products to the market at a rate never seen before in history.

5 Things You Should Know About Computer Aided Design, A Product Engineer's Secret Weapon
Source: AutoDesk

Every other day, you might come across a product that promises to be the next best thing.

A lot of this can be contributed to CAD. So are you ready? Here are five things you should know about CAD.

So, What is CAD?

As stated before, CAD stands for computer-aided design, and it does just that. CAD is computer technology that designs and documents the design process.

Think of it as a sketchbook for your computer, yet this sketchbook allows you to create 3D models with tremendous detail.


These 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional designs can be rotated and viewed from just about any angle, even from the inside looking out.

For the insiders out there CAD is also known as CADD or computer-aided design and drafting.

You may use computer-aided design for a host of reasons. Some use the powerful tool to create renderings and drawings of the physical components of manufactured products.

While some use it for conceptual designs, product layouts, strengths and the dynamic analysis of assembly. Finally, CAD may be used to piece together environmental impact reports.

Life was difficult before CAD. The computer program was originally invented by Ivan Sutherland in 1962 when he described a computerized sketchpad in a doctoral thesis while attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Sutherland wanted to a create program to replace the traditional drafting board and other inefficient tools used by designers at the time.

Originally created and used on a milling machine, computer-aided design is now available across many of the world’s operating systems and can be used from the convenience of your home.

What Are Some of The Benefits of Using CAD?

First and foremost with the power of CAD in your hands you can visualize just about anything.

If you wanted to sketch out a 3D geometrical shape, you could do the same thing in CAD in a matter of seconds.

The flexibility of the program in a digital format makes data handling easier, safer, and quicker.

Whether you wanted to design a futuristic vehicle or new commercial product, CAD allows you to do it with an unparalleled level of detail.

5 Things You Should Know About Computer Aided Design, A Product Engineer's Secret Weapon
Source: AutoDesk

Secondly, the program has tons of product management benefits allowing for product designers to get products out in record time.

CAD can help you generate models for tooling, prototyping, patenting, marketing, and manufacturing with ease. The computer program is a breeze to work with among teams, allowing them to communicate easily.

Finally, CAD’s widespread usage among designers has helped optimize industries, revolutionizing best practices. CAD designs are passed around to help refine products for manufacturers as well as those shipping the products.  

Where is CAD Used?

Now, believe it or not, but CAD is used just about everywhere. A lot of the products and designs that you admire on a daily basis were probably created by the program.

There is a good chance the car you are driving in was created by a designer with CAD.

5 Things You Should Know About Computer Aided Design, A Product Engineer's Secret Weapon
Source: AutoDesk

CAD is used in aerospace as a huge part of the initial design process helping construct everything from space vehicles to satellites, to aircraft to missiles.

Interior design and fashion also utilize computer-aided design to bring their creations to life and even to help manufacture their products.

Other industries touched by CAD include landscaping, civil engineering, cartography, and automotive.

CAM and CAD?

When the term CAD comes up you might also hear the term CAM. Similar to CAD, CAM stands for computer-aided manufacturing.

CAD is more product-centric while CAM focuses on the entire manufacturing process, making it a central element of production.

Computer-aided manufacturing includes a host or broad range of processes to be carried out automatically that include cutting, turning, milling, routing, heat cutting, engraving and even the printing of solid materials.

It takes a look at if a product can even be made and how long it will take.

What Are Some of the Best Programs on the Market?

Like any computer program, there are those who are passionate about certain commercial software and others who call you an idiot for using a certain program.

Nevertheless, the programs mentioned are all used across industries.

Some of the best programs in the industry include Tinkercad, Solidworks, AutoCAD and there is even a strong, free open source program called FreeCAD.

5 Things You Should Know About Computer Aided Design, A Product Engineer's Secret Weapon
Source: AutoDesk

It is also good to mention the CAD takes some time to learn, however, if you stick with it, you will be wowing your friends with your own ZAHA inspired abstract 3D models.  

Are you ready to design something fantastic?

Via: AutoDesk

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