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What is CAD?

CAD stands for computer-aided design, which refers to the use of a computer to support the design process. It enables you to create, modify, analyze, and optimize a design. 

When you look around a room well-built, you will find windows, corners, and more located in a specific area. Did you ever wonder how does one decide it and communicate the same idea to the builder? 

Well, you guessed it right -  it’s CAD! CAD software enables designers to create 2D and 3D design models. 

What is CAD Software?

It is a type of software program that is used to enhance the quality of the design. It is mainly used by engineers and designers to create two-dimensional and three-dimensional models of physical components.

The introduction of CAD software removed the manual need to draft designs by hand. It replaced the use of t-squares and protractors - the traditional method of pen and paper, with an automated process. 

CAD design software is used across many different industries and professionals. It is used to build electronic systems, floor plans, mechanical drawings, blueprints, architectural designs, technical designs, and more. In fact, CAD drawing software is used to add special effects in movies and TV shows. 

Difference 2D and 3D CAD Software?

2D CAD Models
  • 2D models are flat, two-dimensional drawings - it involves height and width. It doesn’t support the thickness of the item. 2D CAD software is useful in industries like aerospace, civil engineering, interior designing, fashion, and more. However, in a 2D CAD environment, it can be hard to build large assemblies efficiently as one can’t be sure if the individual parts will interfere or not. 
3D CAD Models
  • 3D CAD models are similar to that of 2D, except that it provides more significant details about individual parts. As the name suggests, it is a three-dimensional drawing. The best thing about the 3D model is that it shows you how different components will fit or assemble and operate it. It communicates a lot of details about fit and potential issues. 
  • You don’t use 3D models for floor plans. But when it comes to designing automobiles or any other types of machinery, it can be quite a help. 3D models would best represent it. 

Key Features of Online CAD Software?

Some of the modern capabilities of CAD design software are: 

features of cad software

  • Direct Modelling: The best 2D CAD software enables direct modeling, which allows you to use easy push/pull controls to move, rotate, resize, or scale features from imported geometries.
  • Smart Dimensioning Tools: When you create drawings or blueprints, you need to add precise dimensions. CAD drawing software comes with ‘smart dimensioning’ tools that automatically create all your blueprint dimensions with just a few clicks.
  • Freeform Modelling: Using conventional traditional techniques can be hard to create highly-shaped parts. Freeform modeling tools enable you to freely draw the shape of your design by moving points, edges, and faces. It acts as an alternative modeling approach to help you create more visually compelling designs using direct manipulations.
  • Support Availability: Support available from the vendor is another crucial feature of online CAD software. If the program suddenly crashes, or you are facing any kind of technical issue, you need to have a reliable and active support team. It’s important to consider that the vendor offers live phone support and has solid support resource materials to solve problems quickly. 
  • Compatibility: There will be times you will exchange CAD files with other users. That’s why it’s essential to make sure that the software can get open data from those CAD programs, and also allow you to export or save files in various formats.
  • Speed and Accuracy: The primary purpose of using it is to improve the productivity and accuracy of the drawings. The software should enable easy edits with commands like mirror, copy, stretching, rotate and scale, and much more to increase the speed of the work. 

Furthermore, it helps you define precision to any number of decimal places to achieve maximum accuracy in all dimensions. 

What Is AutoCAD Used for?

AutoCAD is a 2D and 3D model computer-aided drafting software application, which was a desktop application until 2010. It then adopted the cloud technology, and now it is available on the mobile and web-based app as well. Sometimes, it is also known as AutoCAD 360.

AutoCAD is used for many reasons. Some of which include:

  • For Architectural Designs: The main use of AutoCAD is to help you design, plan, execute, and analyze the strength of a building at the design stage.  It comes with numerous templates of in-built design layout, which fits right into the architectural planning and building construction. In fact, the latest version of AutoCAD also offers analytical tools. Using which, you can easily analyze the individual components of the building. It helps you troubleshoot stress and load levels of building support.
  • For Graphical Designs: Yet again, AutoCAD software is well-equipped with tools that enable users to plan and map out spaces to take advantage of the space available. Besides, it can be used with various other applications like 3D Max, animation tools, and more. 
  • For Engineering Design: It is useful for designing models for the engineering domain. It involves three main branches that AutoCAD is compatible with - mechanical, civil, and electronic. You can use AutoCAD to build both 2D drawings as well as 3D models to help in the visualization of products.  AutoCAD electrical software enables you to plan, design, and analyze drawing. The end product is always accurate with precise dimensions. 
  • For Fashion Industry: Clothes, accessories, boots, and other fashion delicate items don’t come out by chance. They are first designed using the best AutoCAD software. AutoCAD software for PC offers the necessary tools needed to plan and draw intricate designs for the manufacturing of fashion items. 
  • For Industrial Designs: AutoCAD offers various designing tools that include freeform modeling tools, smart dimensioning tools, and more. These tools help reduce manufacturing costs as it saves time and effort by eliminating the need to design manually. 
  • For 3D Printing: To print objects in a 3D printer, you need to first create a virtual 3D representation of it. And then, feed the design to the printer. AutoCAD can help build those 3D models. It is compatible with a 3D Printer format, and thus, it can export designs in various supported formats. 

How to Use AutoCAD?

People use AutoCAD software for PC to create drawings that are used to manufacture equipment, construct commercial structures, and build homes. 

  • AutoCAD has many specialized programs for your area of interest - civil, aeronautical, mechanical, architectural, or more. You first need to decide what you want to use AutoCAD for. 
  • Another critical step is to ensure that your computer is compatible to run the AutoCAD programs. It requires minimum 2GB RAM, 2 GB storage for installation, Internet Explorer 7.0 or higher, and lastly, screen resolution of 1024 x 768.
  • The next step involves installing the AutoCAD program. The process is pretty simple, you need to follow the step-by-step instructions from the Installation Wizard. 

After installation, the AutoCAD icon will appear on your desktop and be ready to use. 

Many designing institutions offer certification and degree programs in AutoCAD to teach you how to use it. They provide training with hands-on usage of software CAD  for industrial drafting and assembling with accreditation. 

Best CAD Software for Engineers and Mechanical Engineers

There are hundreds of CAD design software available in the market that are specially designed for engineers. Some of the top names are as follows.

  • PTC CREO (Pro/ENGINEER): CREO, formerly known as Pro/ENGINEER, is a product design software created by PTC for 2D or 3D CAD, parametric, and direct modeling. Its wide range of features includes simulation tools for analyzing the product’s performance, including vibration, structural, and thermal analysis.
  • NX (or UG): NX, formerly known as UG, is one of the best CAD software for mechanical engineers that helps deliver products faster and more efficiently. It is created by SIEMENS, which includes industrial/electro-mechanical design, product design, and mechatronics design. With its flexible and powerful integrated solution, NX enables companies to realize the full potential of the digital twin. 
  • CATIA: CATIA is another best CAD software for mechanical engineers created by Dassault Systèmes. It lets you deal with part designs, assembly drawings, kinetic simulation, mechanism design, parts positioning, and more. Leading aerospace- and automotive-based organizations use this powerful CAD design software. Besides, it easily integrates with existing processes and tools. 
  • SOLIDWORKSSOLIDWORKS is one of the best 3D CAD software created by Dassault Systèmes. It is basically used for drawing electrical designs, product data management, simulation, concept design, and more. With their robust and innovative features, it aims to help you maximize the productivity of your design and manufacturing resources. And at the same time, it also empowers you to deliver better products faster.

Best CAD Software for Engineers in Other Categories

  • CorelCADCorelCAD is one of the best CAD software for Mac used by engineers to create visually appealing designs. Its design tools let you experiment with superior 2D drafting and 3D design modeling. The software is aimed at increasing productivity and performance by optimizing the program for Windows and macOS. Besides, it supports most file extensions. 
  • ProfiCAD: ProfiCAD is leading electrical CAD software that assists you in building control circuit diagrams, schematics, and more. Besides, it can be used for hydraulics, pneumatics, and other technical diagrams as well. The best thing is that it has been translated into many languages to facilitate cooperation with international partners. You can easily export files in the DXF format. 
  • DesignSparkDesignSpark is a powerful and free CAD electrical software that provides tangibility to your ideas. The software has a collection of millions of electrical parts to choose from so that you can enhance your product designs faster. In fact, they also offer video tutorials to help you easily navigate through the program. 
  • TurboCAD Pro: TurboCAD Pro is an online CAD software that is specially designed for interior designers, architects, mechanics, and landscapers. It renders 2D and 3D modeling tools that come with advanced functionalities. Besides, it also supports extensive file formats. The software offers hundreds of drawing tools to help you plan, sketch and modify your designs.
  • Electra E8Electra E8 is one of the best CAD software for engineers created to help you draw hydraulic, draughting, schematics, and pneumatic circuit designs. This CAD electrical software comes with an intuitive interface, which makes it easy to create designs on it. It contains more than 700 beautiful, standardized symbols to choose from. 
  • Altium DesignerAltium Designer is a designing tool that enables professionals, design team leaders, electronic designers, and executives to design a complex project more effectively. It improves productivity by managing all aspects of the design process, including PCB, documentation, schematic, and simulation.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • A few reasons why you should be using CAD if you are into designing:

    1. It helps improve the quality of design
    2. It increases the workflow productivity
    3. It enhances communication through documentation
    4. It improves record-keeping by creating a database
  • There is no industry standard file format for sharing CAD programs. However, we recommend that you look for a product that supports the formats used commonly in your particular industry. Some of the standard file formats are -.DXF (Drawing eXchange Format), .DWG, W. MF (Windows Metafile), STEP, STL, IGES, Parasolid, etc.
  • All CAD programs are different - each software is designed for a specific industry, such as engineering or fashion or architecture. Sort the options based on industry, and then weigh its features against your needs and budget. And, before making the final purchase, always make sure to get the final advice from the expert.

CAD software in following industries

Himanshi SharmaBy Himanshi Sharma | Last Updated: October 23, 2020

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