What is Computer-Aided Design (CAD)?
Computer aided design, as the name suggests, in layman’s language, means “designing with the help of computers”. In other words, it is a computer technology which helps in designing a product or object; or we can say, Computer-aided design (CAD) is the use of computer programs to create two- or three-dimensional (2D or 3D) graphical representations of physical objects. CAD is also known as computer-aided design and drafting (CADD). Previously it was done by designers on drawing sheets which was called drafting which is nothing but 2D drawing according to certain parameters and requirements. But nowadays, with the advancement in computer science and technology, there is an availability of different designing tools and software which makes designing very easy.
The free 3D CAD Software is flourishing and helping designers in their work and since the market-price of hardware and software costs are decreasing, as a result of which, the implementation and importance of conventional drafting is also decreasing.
Technically, CAD is one important part of Digital Product Development activity.
What are the advantages of CAD?
- 360 View – This feature of CAD software is very useful in visualizing the 3D appearance of the designed part.
- Increased Accuracy – CAD software uses some of the best tools, as a result of which, the percentage of error reduces as compared to that of manual drafting.
- Reduced Effort – As compared to conventional drafting, the effort required to design something is reduced dramatically because most of the task of the software is automated.
- Effortless Editing – Editing is very simple in this software as you don’t need to edit the whole code of the design; you just need to edit the error part.
- Reusability of Code – One of the most important features of the CAD software is that it allows the reusability of code. It means that you don’t need to write the whole code again for designing something that you have already designed for any other unit; you just need to copy the different parts of the code and design the part that you want to reuse.
- Easy Share – CAD tools allow easy storing and easy sharing of the design. There are multiple options for sharing in the software.
- Saves Time – Using the computer aided design software saves lot of time as a result of which you can make efficient and superior designs in less time than required in conventional drafting.
The free 3D CAD Software also provides the feature to assemble parts as a unit to perform a specified operation and check whether the designed part is behaving properly asyou’re your expectations.
Computer-aided designs are used in photographs to produce a rendering of the appearance when the new structures are built. The free 3D CAD Software completely eliminates tedious manual editing processes by incorporating a variety of editing tools. There is no need to redraw if you want to copy all or parts of an object. By just few clicks on the mouse, you can remove an object by simply erasing it. There is an option of undo and redo; so you can quickly undo your actions and there will be no need to redraw it. There are numerous features of the free 3D CAD Software. Some of them are extrude, mirroring, sweep, rotating, scaling, loft, stretching, cut, trimming, and more. You can also change object material and visual properties, such as line-type, line-weight, color, and layer at any time.
The free 3D CAD Software also helps to analyze parts and its mechanical properties, such as, its density, strength, hardness, toughness etc. The automation feature incorporated in the software help you to see the automation of the part and its behavior under the working condition or in an operational environment.
There are various packages provided in the software depending on the type of industry and application; for designing electronic systems package, the free 3D CAD Software used is called Electronic Design Automation (EDA) while for mechanical design, the package is called Mechanical Design Automation (MDA). Similarly, for the designing purposes of fluid flow, there is a different package which helps the user to design a product in required environment.
There are mainly three to four processes which are involved in a free 3D CAD Software
The names of important software of CAD which you can learn to enhance your designing skills:
Autodesk AutoCAD, CAD International Real CAD, Autodesk Inventor, Bricsys BricsCAD, Dassault CATIA, Dassault Solidworks, Kubotek KeyCreator, Siemens NX, Siemens Solid Edge etc.
Each of the software mentioned above differ slightly in their capabilities. For example,
- SolidWorks is used for working on 3D design and a parametric framework. It supports the conventional 2D processes and facilitates design engineers’ effortless development of manufacturing drawings, assembly drawings and manufacturing documentation.
- Solid Edge is software tool that address all aspects – 3D design, simulation, manufacturing, design management.
- NX – Deals with the full range of development processes in product design, manufacturing and simulation.
CAD software system configuration requirements:
CAD systems, today, are suitable for all of the computer platforms, including Windows, Linux, Unix and Mac OS X. You can easily get the desired software from the official website of the vendor. High end CAD software requires high RAM and graphics card to run properly. The user interface generally centers around a computer mouse and keyboard. Apart from these, a pen and digitizing graphic tablet can also be used. Some systems also supports stereoscopic glasses for the perfect visualization of 3-D models.
What are the applications of free 3D CAD Software?
- It helps in the development of detailed engineering designs with the help of 3-D and 2-D drawings of the physical parts of manufactured products.
- It is used to create conceptual design, product layout, strength and a dynamic analysis of assembly and the manufacturing processes.
- The CAD software can be specialized for specific applications.
- It is used for computer animation and special effects in movies, advertising, and other applications in the fields of graphic designing and animation.
- The CAD software is capable of performing engineering calculations and this feature is used for designing products for industrial design applications based on optimum calculations done by the software itself.
- CAD is mainly used in product and industrial design.
- It is used for creating detailed 3D solid or surface models and 2D vector-based drawings of physical parts.
- It is used throughout the engineering process from the beginning of conceptualization of design and developments layout of products, through strength and dynamic analysis of parts and assemblies, to the formulation of manufacturing methods and its implementation. This facilitates an engineer or designer to both interactively and automatically analyze design variants, to find the optimal design solution for manufacturing and to minimize the use of physical prototypes.
The free 3D CAD Software is extensively used in these following fields:
- Architectural Constructions – Architects use the CAD software to design and analyze the strength of the structures designed by them. This industry requires a lot of designing work to be done because of the requirement of a zero error work; a failure in the structures leads to heavy loss of property and lives. In such a challenging environment, it is the accuracy of the CAD software that helps them to make zero error designs.
- Aerospace Industry – CAD has proved to be essential and helpful to this industry. Instruments, machine parts, engine, space shuttles, missile, aircrafts and more are designed and developed using the CAD software. After they are designed and analyzed by the software, the prototype is made. Designing in this industry requires high accuracy, and without CAD, it is not possible.
- Jewelry Designing – Nowadays, it is one of the biggest booming businesses because there is an increase in demand for superior and best jewelry designs in the markets. Most of the jewelry designing is done by the CAD software as the software allows the user to make minute designs without any trouble and with precision. There are different types of CAD software which can be used for designing jewelry and even other accessories. When it comes to fine imprint in jewelry, it is the CAD software that will turn out to be handy.
Basically free 3D CAD Software is used to design from basic machine parts of very small size to very huge aircrafts and rockets.
There are various other fields where CAD is extensively used. CAD has become an important part of almost every industry and its popularity among the engineers, architects, manufacturers and students is growing day by day.
CAD or Computer Aided Design has got extremely popular especially among the engineering professionals, especially the ones in architecture. The software can be used in various avenues because of easy designing and drafting features. Not only can CAD help you put in your ideas in the form of designs, but, it can do so in an easy way which doesn’t consume much time. AutoCAD is the most popular software for CAD and is chosen by professionals all over the world.
What are the benefits after learning to use the CAD software?
Learning the CAD software is advised by all, especially when you are a mechanical engineer. Once you have the required knowledge and your skills have enhanced, your chances of getting a job as design engineer increases. For the professionals, the knowledge of the CAD software will be really helpful as per the career point of view.
Developers are consistently working on making the free 3D CAD Software easier to use, and, in the near future, there are chances that designing will become totally effortless with the aid of computers.