12 July 2021
How CAD Goes Beyond Drafting
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few decades, most design professionals are familiar with CAD, or computer-aided design. For years, CAD has been used to create 2D and 3D designs, such as layout design and 3D CAD modelling services. Over time, 2D CAD drafting services and architectural CAD services have gone beyond drafting building floor plans and outdoor landscapes. Layouts that contain vector graphics are used to scale those layouts for different sizes, used for proposals or construction drawings.
Beyond drafting, CAD design services has been involved in other applications, such as:
- Development of video games and animated films
- Product design, civil engineering and simulation modelling
- Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), which involves the manufacture of 3D objects
Vectors in 3D CAD allow designers to create complex 3D shapes, such as polygons, Bézier curves (parametric curves used in computer graphics) and other rounded shapes, that can be moved, rotated, enlarged and modified.
When creating a 3D model, colors, gradients or designs can be added that can be applied using a process called texture mapping. Several CAD programs include a feature that can adjust lighting and a timeline used to create 3D animations.
The use of CAD software, such as SolidWorks, CATIA. Autodesk’s Inventor, Rhino. SketchUp Tinkercad, Sculptris, Blender, etc., result in:
- Streamlined workflows
- Reduced need for physical prototypes
- Saved revision histories
The software also considers how different materials interact with each other:
- As more details are added to drawings by subcontractors, this becomes increasingly relevant.
- Now, when drawings/plans can be stored in the cloud, contractors can access CAD drawings/plans at the site.
- Plan modifications can be seen and understood easily by entire teams on the site, the contractor and subcontractors.
- Stakeholders can recognise and prepare for the potential impact of modifications on the construction process.
- Designers can consider mechanical, electrical, plumbing and other design elements to create a comprehensive design.
Producing Product Design
Several industries have adopted CAD as part of the product design process. Using CAD in product design involves:
- Identifying and solving problems users experience
- Directing processes used to create products
- Determining and developing product style
- Identifying, planning and calculating materials used
- Helping maintain mechanical architecture
- Perfecting the working of a product
Designers brainstorm ideas to create original concepts. Once concepts are selected, they are fleshed out more fully, and drawings and prototype versions of a product are created, helping identify any issues with the product. Then, the model is ready, and the product can be produced.
Beyond 2D drafting, product designers create 3D models, whose properties match those of the intended object. Designers use CAD software to analyse this model without having to create a physical prototype. The design can be tested on how it will react to heat, pressure, physical stress and other conditions. So, CAD software:
- Helps provide new methods of drafting and analysis
- Helps create new pieces quickly, with a high level of mathematical accuracy
- Helps modify design and significantly speed up the design process
One of the prime reasons for using CAD in product design is that it enables the creation of production-ready designs.
- Modern CAD software provides detailed data on how different parts and materials behave under varied conditions.
- Product designers can conduct stress analysis, accurately assess computational fluid dynamics and analyse different elements.
- Tests showing the effects of different forces on a product result in a CAD design that can be used as a virtual prototype.
- Vector images of designs created in CAD software can be converted directly into preparatory codes, which can then be used by various types of CNC machines, or computer numerical control machines, which are machining tools such as drills, lathes, mills and 3D printers that are controlled through a computer.
- Use of CAD software has resulted in new manufacturing techniques, from new CNC innovations to 3D printing of different materials and colours.
What does this mean regarding a product’s lifecycle? Will CAD tools help us beyond design?
- Every stage of a product’s lifecycle – from design to disposal – is now part of product design.
- Beyond accurate product design, CAD software helps create products that satisfy customer needs and specifications for manufacturing, use, disposal and even potential recycling.
- Software can help design specific tools to manufacture a product.
- Other CAD programs may help design the most efficient layout for a factory where manufacturing takes place.
- Programs can help design what happens to a product once it is no longer usable.
Whether it’s product design or modelling or analysis, the advantages of CAD go much beyond drafting. The benefits of computer-aided design in general terms can be summed up as follows:
Benefits of CAD Software
1) Increase productivity:
- CAD software helps visualise the final product, its sub-assemblies and parts.
- It enables animation to see how a product will work, so that modifications can be made.
- It helps synthesise, analyse and document the design.
- It helps speed up the designing process, lowering cost and helping speed up project completion.
2) Improve design quality:
- CAD software offers tools for thorough engineering analysis, innovation and investigation.
- CAD systems offer more accuracy, considerably reducing errors.
- Wastages due to faulty design are reduced.
- Manufacturing can be completed faster.
3) Creating documentation:
- Creating design documentation is convenient.
- This documentation includes product geometries and dimensions, sub-assemblies, components, material specifications, bill of materials, etc.
4) Creating manufacturing database:
- While developing design documentation, manufacturing data is also created, such as product and component drawings, materials, dimensions, shapes, etc.
5) Archiving design data and drawings:
- Design data can easily be saved and used for future use, so key components need not be designed over and over.
- Drawings can be saved, copied, standardised and printed when needed.
We can conclude that using CAD software for product design, architectural drawing services, mechanical CAD drafting services (M&E CAD drafting services) or residential CAD services can enhance products and projects alike. Using a reliable, experienced and cost-effective design partner with proven expertise in architectural drafting services can be of valued support while delivering large projects.
XS CAD has valuable experience providing cad modeling services, 2D drafting services, AutoCAD drafting services, and other construction drawing services for designers, consultants and manufacturers. Our range of services for consultants, contractors and manufacturers across the world include architectural drawing services, mechanical CAD drafting services (M&E CAD drafting services) construction drawing services, BIM coordination services. We create these models and drawings using Revit, AutoCAD and BIM Collaborate Pro for cloud collaboration.