All about Computer-aided Design
Computer-aided Design aka CAD is the use of computer and different tools to aid different aspects of design (analysis, creation, modification and optimization). CAD is a tool that helps the designer to increase his productivity, to improve the quality of the product, to increase the levels of communication through documentation and to aid in creation of a database for manufacturing.
If used for mechanical design it is called MDA (mechanical design automation) or CAD (computer-aided design) and in this field it uses vector-based graphics to delineate objects that were traditionally drafted or to produce raster graphics that are used to present the overall appearance of the object in question. But, shapes aren’t everything that is provided by CAD, it also involves dimensions, processes, materials and tolerances.
Cad can be used for both 2D and 3D a creation which is why it is so important tool in many industries like shipbuilding, automotive and aerospace. It is also used for computer animations that can be seen in movies and advertisements.
CAD is used in various ways, and it would be futile to list everything that had a taste of CAD in its production, but in general CAD is integrated and used as a part of following products:
- CAE aka computer-aided engineering
- FEA aka finite element analysis
- CAM aka computer aided manufacturing
- Motion simulation
- Photo rendering and so on.
World of CAD is vast indeed, which can be seen in free CAD programs that can be used. These free CAD products are like demo versions of real CAD infused programs, but they can be used to enter the world of, for example 3D rendering.
In this day and age 2D design is out of use, and 3D design has taken over and CAD is essential in fast and high quality designs. There are also several types of 3D modeling, but 3D solid modeling is most common and it also has two types of its own:
- First is parametric modeling which hallows the designer to use “design intent”. This means that all objects and features of the design are modifiable through the change of the original part of design.
- Explicit (direct) modeling includes the ability to modify the geometry of the design without going into history tree of the same. In this case the designer doesn’t need original sketch to change geometry of design.
The Future of CAD
Technology of CAD changed through years. At the beginning CAD was written in ALGOL, FORTRAN and similar computer languages, but object-oriented programming caused change. Typical CAD based software you see today is build around major C modules, all of which have their own APIs. Interactions between NURBS geometry, b-rep aka boundary representation and GUI (graphical user interface are basic pillars of modern CAD system.
Modern CAD systems are made to support multiple platforms and they don’t need any special software to run. But for those that have some bigger and more complex designs in mind some more advanced graphics card, and multiple CPU’s as well as a lot of RAM is advised.