What Is Computer-Aided Design? (With Importance And Use)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Computer-aided design (CAD) has become a vital component of design and planning across various fields and industries. Professionals employ CAD software to create custom designs that meet client needs. Knowing the importance and applications of computer-aided design can help you determine its relevance to your career path. In this article, we answer the question, 'What is computer-aided design?', discuss its importance, outline the various professionals who employ CAD software and highlight some industries where it is relevant.

What is computer-aided design?

If you are wondering, 'What is computer-aided design?', it is the process of using computer software to create plans and designs. These design tools, created by software developers, help design professionals complete their tasks more effectively and accurately. CAD software is sometimes industry-specific to automate certain processes of the design and engineering process. For instance, common applications for computer-aided design valuable in the manufacturing industry include metal fabrication, 3D printing and carpentry. You can refer to CAD as computer-aided design and drafting (CADD).

Related: Computer Skills: Definition And Example

Importance of computer-aided design

Computer-aided design is now a core component of various designers' processes due to the following benefits it offers:

Efficiency

Using CAD software to create designs can help you complete your tasks more quickly. As computers can complete multiple processes in a shorter duration, you can easily add various components to the design while saving time. This is because you can avoid hand measurement and designing, which are generally more time-consuming due to the need for accuracy.

Computer-aided design software also gives access to various functions like resizing and copying and pasting that can help you save time. For instance, you can easily use a measurement across different places without going through the stress of designing from the beginning with the copy and paste function. You can also make edits easily without starting the design process from the beginning.

Precision

Accuracy and precision are important considerations when completing a design. This ensures that all components can fit with each other to create a functional product. For instance, it is important that the size of a cover is accurate, so it properly protects an opening. Using CAD can help improve precision by reducing the likelihood of human error to the minimum during the design process. For example, computer software is more likely to draw a box to specifications without any mistake than a human using a ruler.

Sharing

When creating your designs, CAD software allows you to create them as a digital file. Being a digital file, it is easier to share your design with clients and other professionals that possess the relevant software to read the file. This can aid collaboration with other designers regardless of the differences in location. For instance, others can easily change the document that reflects automatically on your file.

Using CAD software also allows you to restrict access to the file when you share it. For instance, you can restrict those that can edit the file or limit some people's access to only viewing or commenting on the design.

Visualisation

CAD software often comes with other features and functions that can aid the visualisation of the ultimate design or product. For instance, using an architectural CAD can allow you to display a 3D representation of the product or room you designed. By visualising the appearance of your designs within a practical setting, you can assess your design better and identify areas for improvement where necessary. You can also use these visualisation tools when presenting to your clients as they can help your clients appreciate the details in the design.

Read more: Types Of 3D Modelling Jobs (Career Tips, Skills And Salary)

Automated manufacturing

CAD software can be vital during a company's production process due to automated manufacturing. This is because automated manufacturing allows companies to use CAD software to create schematic documents capable of interpretation by other manufacturing elements. Such companies can then input the designs into the relevant machinery to complete the manufacturing process. This process can improve production speed and cost-effectiveness, improving profit and customer satisfaction.

Who can use the computer-aided design?

Professionals across a wide range of positions in an organisation can use designs created by CAD software to complete some of their duties and responsibilities. Some of these roles where knowledge and use of CAD software can be relevant include:

Designer

Designers are likely to use computer-aided software and its tools when creating drafts of their initial plans for a project and the final designs. The CAD software constitutes a useful tool to help designers see the layout of their plans and try out various designs before creating the final output. For instance, interior designers can use CAD software to explore various designs to maximise the limited space in a house or room.

Engineer

Engineers are another profession that employs CAD software to discharge their duties and responsibilities. These professionals often use this software when developing products and schematics during the initials stages of development. They also apply the software during the implementation stage to make necessary changes. For instance, an engineer may redesign a project component after realising the need for changes during the implementation stages.

Trade professional

Various trades employ computer-aided software to create plans and schematics when completing their tasks. For instance, individuals working as electricians, home framers and plumbers sometimes work on tasks or projects with CAD software created plans. In addition, these trade professionals may have experience using CAD software to create these plans in some other cases. In such cases, they create detailed schematics of their installations before executing such plans.

Labourer

Labourers often collaborate with other professionals to implement creations using CAD software. For instance, during some construction projects, architects can create plans using CAD software that they expect the labourers to implement. Usually, these computer-generated schematics can provide labourers with accurate and specific information regarding every part of the project. This can increase the general quality of the output they deliver during the project.

Common industries for computer-aided design

The use of CAD is common across various fields by relevant professionals. Some of the industries or fields where CAD has a relevant application include:

Aerospace

The aerospace industry revolves around the creation and maintenance of flying vehicles. These vehicles range from heavy aircraft like aeroplanes to light aircraft like gliders. CAD software and tools are relevant, as it allows for creating complex and detailed plans that various professionals employ to develop and design functional and operational airborne vehicles.

Architecture

In recent times, the architectural industry has become dependent on CAD-related software. Modern architects often use computer software when developing building plans for various projects. For instance, architects use CAD software to create plans or schematics for new constructions or develop updates to existing structures. Often, in the second case, this requires architects to create a model of the existing structure using CAD software before incorporating structural changes that maintain the integrity of the building.

Read more: Architect Vs. Engineer: What Is The Difference?

Automotive

The automotive industry also concerns itself with creating complex and functional machines that can help ease the movement of people and goods from one place to another. This industry's output includes cars, trucks, jeeps, sport utility vehicles, pickups and vans. Professionals in this industry use CAD software and tools to achieve the precision necessary for creating safe, executable and functional designs.

Civil engineering

Civil engineers are responsible for creating plans for the layout and development of various communities. For instance, they are responsible for building bridges, roads and other public facilities. These professionals often employ CAD software for general tasks during project development, such as laying out buildings, drafting pipe systems and plotting a roadway. Specific tasks where these professionals can apply CAD tools include drafting sewage systems and programming water flow systems.

Read more: Guide: What Is Structural Design In Civil Engineering?

Electrical engineering

Electrical engineers are responsible for developing and implementing electrically powered technology. Electrical products and their systems often require accurate plans and designs to ensure that these systems function effectively. As a result, they maximise CAD software to develop structures that support a functional electrical product.

Interior design

CAD software is usually relevant to individuals working in the interior design industry. Professional designers can use the precision and efficiency of CAD tools to create appealing and customised designs for clients. They can also adopt the visualisation function to explain design options to customers.

Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry is a wide field that involves transforming goods from raw materials to finished products. For instance, companies can manufacture basic metals, furniture, machinery and equipment and optical products. Due to the complex nature of various manufacturing processes, professionals rely on CAD to create accurate plans that can transform raw materials into finished products. Usually, CAD software schematics are relevant for employee execution and automated manufacturing.

Plumbing

A plumber can use CAD tools to create defined piping plans during plumbing installations. Applying this software can support creating accurate designs that maximise the available space. It can also help a plumber account for water quality and pressure issues and how it affects the plumbing systems during the construction phase.

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