Before the evolution of computers and CAD tools, engineering drawing boards were used to make product designs. Complete design was done in 2-Dimensional that required a lot of experience and knowledge and visualization skills to design new products. Therefore the new product design process was slow.
To overcome this problem first CAD software ( Sketchpad ) was introduced in the 1960s that was developed by Ivan Sutherland as part of his PhD thesis at MIT. Earlier CAD software was not common and was used by only big aerospace and automobile companies.
But these days, CAD Design tools are so common that any company involved in design is using cad software because of the advantage of low implementation cost and faster design cycles. In this article we will discuss advantages, disadvantages, applications of CAD along with the latest trends in the CAD industry. Don’t miss this article on various software used by mechanical engineers.
Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools utilizes highly powered computers to design, visualize and simulate new product designs. Using CAD software engineers can build entire product designs in the virtual world (computer screen) where they can visualize and review it to deliver first time right products.
Applications of CAD Software
Engineers are using cad software in various industries for following applications:
- Create concept or industrial designs and visualize them using realistic rendering software.
- Detailed 3D part
- Assembly design.
- Verification and validation of design (interference, gap analysis, tolerance stackup, draft and thickness analysis etc.) in CAD software.
- Create animations.
- Generate assembly and engineering drawings for manufacturing etc.
Cad software is used in the following industries but not limited to this.
- Product design and manufacturing
- Heavy engineering.
- Architecture design
- Gaming industry
- Augmented and Virtual Reality
- 3D Printing etc.
Advantages of CAD Software
Years back CAD software has changed the way engineers design their products. Product design quality, productivity and timelines are improved while using cad software compared to conventional engineering drawing boards. Following are just a few advantages of CAD software.
Easy to use and design new Products
Nowadays, CAD tools are so much easier to use even school students are using them to convert their ideas into reality. Any sketching skills to use cad software. Therefore you can bring your imagination on the virtual world and present your idea to others.
Please note professional cad tools still require cad skills and can be learned from freely available videos.
CAD software allows engineers to visualize and feel product designs in 3 dimensions. With the integration of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies in cad tools. Now engineers are able to use and test their products in actual scenarios.
3D Rendering and animation feature in CAD tools is used to create realistic rendered images and animations. It helps engineers in getting feedback for their products before actually building it.
Reduced Product Design Timelines
Before CAD, engineers were creating designs by hand. If any modification in drawing was required, the entire design needed to be created from scratch.
But CAD software allows engineers to create designs very fast. Even if any modification is required that can be done on top of existing design. Modified part gets updated in assembly and the drawing file automatically. Before CAD everything was manual. This is the reason new products are coming on the market faster.
CAD software has the advantage of verification of design before actually building it. This leads to the design of first time right products. This helps in reducing overall cost.
Most cad software comes with product design verification and validation features. These features help engineers in the verification of various design elements. As a result more robust, first time right products are created. Following are the some of the widely used verification tools in cad software.
- Basic Level simulation.
- Interference and GAP Analysis.
- Draft and Thickness analysis.
- Tolerance stackup analysis
- Motion Analysis etc.
More advanced CAD design softwares are smart enough to suggest design changes based on simulation results. They can even generate design features automatically. It helps in optimization of design in a better way.
3D CAD models are used in Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) to generate CNC programs. This reduces the work of CNC programmers. For example, 3D printer slicing software are used to create G-Codes from 3D CAD models.
Disadvantages of CAD Software
Along with so many advantages of cad software they have some limitations as well. But these limitations are very few and can be easily taken care of by the industry. Following are some of the limitations of CAD design software.
High Initial Investment
High computing power is required to run cad software. Therefore to run CAD software companies need to buy high latest configuration computer systems. Which are very high in cost. But this is changing with time. Now Cloud based CAD software runs on the cloud with an internet browser. This eliminates the need of buying a costly workstation.
Most advanced cad software are license based. Therefore you need to buy a license to use cad software. Generally license costs are very high. If someone can not afford a high licensing fee. For them Free cad software is a good option.
Latest Trends in CAD Technology
Following latest technologies are ruling the CAD industry these days.
Some advanced cad tools use cloud computing to run the cad software. Therefore industries don’t need to spend money on high end computing devices. Engineers can access CAD software from anywhere using an internet connected device.
Most cad tools are based on either direct modeling or parametric modeling. Whereas synchronous modeling is a combination of direct and parametric cad modeling. In other words, anytime you can switch from parametric to direct and vice-versa.
Generative design software helps in creating new part design from scratch. Engineers only need to provide design inputs and constraints.
Topology Improvement in CAD Design
Topology improvement feature in CAD software improves the existing design based on some errors or simulation results.
Augmented and Virtual Reality Technologies
To sum up, Computer aided Design has changed the way engineers design the products. This technology is continuously evolving. Engineers always need to get them updated with the latest cad technologies.
We will keep updating more information on Advantages, disadvantages and applications of CAD technologies. Please add your suggestions, comments or questions on advantages cad software in the comment box.