Computer-aided design (or drafting) is better known as CAD, and it has become an integral part in the creation of all kinds of products. Many different varieties of engineers, architects, artists, and inventors have used this software not only to get an idea of how their creations will look visually, but used it to test it as well, since CAD can model the physical properties of various materials. It’s possible to test the endurance or strength of a product long before it becomes a physical reality.

Using computers to help design physical objects is not really a new thing. Designers have been doing it for decades, long before computers became commonly used. CAD is fairly new, in comparison. It uses graphics to build a 3D representation, either from a 2D drawing, or from entered parameters, or schematics.

Today, the use of CAD is very widespread. Automotive companies use it to plan their cars in every aspect, from the inner workings of engines, to the aerodynamics of the chassis. Similar processes are used in the field of aeronautics. Architects use it to perfectly balance function and beauty. Many of the more spectacular special effects seen in movies today are created with CAD software. Even containers like perfume bottles are designed through the use of this technology, allowing the creator to modify it until it’s just right for production.

Just as in a manual draft of a technical drawing, the final output of CAD software includes materials, including not only the visual appearance, but the other physical properties it holds, as well. If a design is likely to collapse under its own weight or by prone to break under certain stressful activities, good CAD software will display this.

Often, when an idea is still in the conceptual stages, there are a number of ways it might be implemented. In the past, it would be necessary to build a prototype to know exactly how a certain thing would appear after it was constructed. CAD offers not only appearance and tolerances, but animation, as well. If your invention has moving parts, you can move them with CAD. Your project will be shown in photorealistic shades, complete with lighting options and the ability to rotate the device so it can be seen from every angle and every situation.

A CAD object models every facet of the device, including any working parts, like switches, wheels, or levers. This is one of the reasons it’s so useful with firms that construct vehicles. When you can test an engine and really crank up the heat, or the friction, or other adverse condition without risking loss of materials or danger to your facility or personnel. Of course, even if you have something perfectly safe, the ability to test moving parts and their strength is an invaluable addition to the design process.

Draft vs. Design

A design generally begins with a draft, a drawing of whatever is to be produced, completely with dimensions and technical notation. It was once a major part of the creation process, with those who knew the product giving input to the drafter, who would then pass on their draft to a CAD designer. A CAD designer is someone generally knowledgeable enough about the field of design that they don’t need much input to perform their jobs.

The development of 3D CAD has slowly diminished the job of the drafter. Today’s 3D CAD software accounts for all the details. A designer who needs to make a vehicle with larger capacity or a greater load tolerance can quickly input the new parameters. Unlike a drafter, the CAD designer is often a specialist in the particular field, meaning any changes made will follow all specifications, local ordinances, and other certifications the object will need once actual construction begins.

Just about everyone who does a great deal of CAD work begins as a drafter, changing designs on direct and very specific direction from the actual creators. A CAD designer, on the other hand, requires special training, to understand not only how to make changes in a design, but the reason why these changes are made. They may not be engineers themselves, but they understand enough about the work to make the requested changes with minimal oversight.

The best output from 3D CAD comes when you are not only able to work closely with the CAD designer, but feel assured the designer is confident in his or her abilities and knows the underlying work needed to bring a given project to life. When it comes to 3D CAD design, you need more than someone who knows how to make a spectacular 3D rendering, but someone who knows specific physical and legal requirements your particular project needs. Pivot International can help you with all of these needs, and more. Request your free consultation today.