CAD is a type of software that many industries rely on to create drafts and models. It can be used to design 2D drawings and 3D models with precise measurements. Many industries utilize CAD every single day, including engineering, industrial design, architecture, and product design. The majority of companies and individuals have already adopted CAD for their development cycles, improving their productivity by leaps and bounds.
If you’ve found yourself considering using CAD software for your business, you’re one step closer to improving productivity. There are many types of CAD packages you can buy depending on whether you want to use 2D or 3D CAD and some other factors like price and industry. Or you could consider hiring a CAD freelancer or drafting service to do the work for you. However you end up using CAD, rest assured that you won’t regret it.
The Many Benefits of CAD
There are tons of benefits of CAD software. Studies have proven that integrated CAD usage allows product development firms to meet their goals more efficiently. Product development time, product quality, and productivity all improve when using CAD, which translate to reduced manufacturing and product costs.
Here are just a few benefits of CAD in detail.
CAD software allows designers to lower production costs, work faster and smarter, and ultimately leads to quicker project completion. Because designers can work more efficiently, companies are able to keep their teams small. This allows organizations to produce high quality, low-cost products and lets them push products out faster, making changes on the fly when necessary. This is a huge advantage in the competitive global marketplace.
Before CAD, designers were forced to draw everything by hand. If they wanted to alter the design, they would have to draw the entire thing again. CAD software allows designers to visualize their designs and test them against real-world variables. Should something need to be changed, they can easily alter the same file.
Higher Quality Designs
Traditionally, when a design didn’t function as expected, the team had to go back to the drawing board. The use of CAD allows design teams to control the quality of the final engineered product. It’s easy to investigate an error, diagnose the problem, and solve it all using the software before any prototypes are made. This not only saves time, but also money.
This translates to getting your design right the first time rather than having to make multiple iterations of the same design before it comes out as expected.
Reuse and Easily Change Designs
Fashion design is one industry that uses CAD often. It allows designers to create clothes and see how they would fit on virtual models, all without spending a dime on manufacturing. If they need to alter their design in any way, whether that be the material it’s made of or the fit, they can do that easily using CAD.
Once they have their main design finished, they can use that same file to produce many versions of the design without having to redraw it. If they want the t-shirt they designed to be reproduced with different logos, it’s simply a matter of pasting the logo onto the design.
Easier to Read
A common problem that designers face is communicating their vision through drawings. Paper and pencil drawings tend to be unclear, and team members without a background in industrial design or engineering have a hard time understanding them. CAD drawings are easily read, as they’re standardized and organized. Legibility is increased, and there are no issues with reading the drawings.
CAD software produces models that can be used by other departments, including marketing and sales. They are impressive to look at and demonstrate the aesthetics and function of a design without spending money on a prototype. It’s an easy way to demonstrate your work and impress investors.
If you’re a part of a big team, you know how valuable sharing is. CAD software makes it easy to collaborate with team members. One person can work on the design and send it to another, where they can view the design history to see exactly what was done and how. CAD makes collaborating easy, even for remote teams.
Cloud-based CAD programs are becoming the norm. A survey done by Business Vantage in 2016 found that up to 29% of companies using CAD plan to adopt cloud-based software in the next 3 to 5 years. The number one reason for this is mobility. By using the cloud, CAD users can use the software anywhere with an internet connection, and designs are accessible by anyone with access. Global workplaces will benefit from the use of this tremendously.
Documenting the Design
CAD software is excellent at documenting all aspects of a design. The measurements, angles, and dimensions of a product are all conveniently recorded and saved for future use. Components and subassemblies are also saved and can be used for future designs if need be. You can easily generate a bill of materials to pass on to your manufacturer, and everything is conveniently recorded for you.
What Advantages Does CAD Have Over Technical Sketching?
A common reason that designers use to justify technical sketching is that it produces a more cohesive final product. While this criticism may have had some merit twenty years ago, it no longer works. CAD software has come a long way in the past twenty years, making the design process more integrated and complete than what is possible by hand.
The main advantage of CAD drawing over sketching is that it saves a ton of time. CAD increases the productivity of designers tremendously (it’s anywhere between 3:1 and 10:1). Digital drawings are also malleable and easily edited in the same file. Sketches would need to be thrown out and started from the beginning if any changes were required.
Sketching still has its place in the industry. A lot of designers begin with a hand-drawn draft before taking it over to CAD. This lets them combine the benefits of both approaches.
The Limitations of CAD
Skill of the Designer
CAD (and CAM, its counterpart) are tools for a designer to use to create a design. Like all tools, they are only as useful as the one handling them. While a computer can tell you what a design will look like when you use either steel or wood, the user is the one who makes the decision, which inevitably affects function. CAD software also can’t tell you which design is more aesthetically pleasing, and in some industries, that overrides function.
Designing Physical Objects in a Virtual Workspace
While CAD and 3D modeling software have come a long way, when designing in the virtual workspace, there is a degree of separation from the physical object that is implied. Designing virtually allows the user to create perfection without concerning themselves with real-world constraints. The designer who only creates things virtually will have less of an understanding of the product and the actual process. They are using technology to design.
A woodworker who designs a table in the real world, using manual measurements and drafts, has a better understanding of the process and the product. This is not necessarily a limitation of the software itself. Rather, it breeds a certain type of designer. The best designers are able to design without CAD, using it only as a tool and not a crutch.