Brief Story of Computer Aided Design (CAD)

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Back then before the advent of CAD, the only source for draftsmen was pencil and paper for drawing sketches. And then, the story of CAD started around the mid 1970, as computer system began to provide more capability than just an ability to reproduce manual drafting with electronic drafting. Because of this, the cost benefit for companies to switch to CAD became apparent. But why? What is benefit of CAD compared to manual drafting? Perhaps this questions often comes to your mind. The benefits (using “s” means more than one benefit !) of CAD systems over manual drafting are; easy data storing and accessibility, ability to use 3D view, easy revision, faster speed and less time to create a drawing, drawing accuracy, automated generation of Bill of Material, auto layout in Integrated Circuits, Interference Checking, and many others.

Computer Aided Design (CAD) often use by engineer for many purposes, depend on the profession and type of software used. The features in the CAD system can be used for the variety of tools for measurement such as tensile strength, yield strength, electrical or electro-magnetic properties, and also its stress, strain, how the element gets affected in certain temperatures, etc. CAD is one part of the whole Digital Product Development (DPD) activity within the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) processes, and as such is used together with other tools, which are either integrated modules or stand-alone products, such as :

  • Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA)
  • Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)
  • Photorealistic Rendering and Motion Simulation
  • Document management and revision control

There are several different types of CAD, each requiring the user to think differently of how to use them and design their virtual component in a different manner to reach. In short, there are two kinds of CAD, 2D design and 3D design. 2D design is the same as result in manual drafting. And then, there is 3D wireframe which is basically the extension of 2D design (3D design that consist of several lines that looks like wireframe structure) and not often used today. There is also 3D “dumb” solids, which is created in a way analogous to manipulations of real world objects. Basic three-dimensional geometric forms (prism, cylinder, sphere, and so on) have solid volume added or subtracted from them, as if assembling or cutting real world objects. This is not often used today. The last, there is 3D solid modelling which has two types:

  1. Parametric Modelling, when the objects and features created are modifiable. Any future modifications can be made by changing how the original part was created.
  2. Direct or Explicit Modelling, which provide the ability to edit geometry without a history tree. With direct modelling, once sketch is used to create geometry, the sketch is incorporated into the new geometry and the designer just modifies the geometry without needing the original sketch.

To create CAD design, there are several software that can be used, start from licensed and freeware. The choice depends on design purpose and features user want to use, since each software has its advantages and disadvantages. Below are major CAD applications for your choices, groped by usage statistics :


Freeware and Open Source

CAD Kernels

Which one is your choice? Whichever your choice is, every CAD software listed above has its own pros and cons. If you are new to CAD, then do not hesitate to write comment to me, maybe i can help you to decide which first software you should using. And also, if you have any other inquiries or want to share knowledge and experience using other software that is not listed above, do not hesitate to comment me.

Hope you have a nice day 😉


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