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CAD Definition & Meaning

Computer-aided design (CAD) is a software tool used by engineers, architects, designers, and drafters to create digital 2D and 3D drawings used to design a variety of items and spaces. It can be used to design something as simple as a shampoo bottle or as complex as a jet plane. By bringing a computer into the design process, designers are able to change the dimensions, color, or material of a model with a click of a button. You might find CAD also referred to as CADD or computer-aided design and drafting.

History of CAD

The foundations of CAD can be found rooted in the 1960s. Ivan Sutherland created a revolutionary computer program called SKETCHPAD at MIT in 1962. This program was the first graphical user interface (GUI) program which meant that the user could graphically interact with a computer by drawing on a CRT monitor with a specially-designed light pen. 

By the 1970s, CAD had been further developed and was introduced to the commercial space by the automotive and aerospace industry. Until the mid-1980s, CAD systems could only be used on specially constructed computers, but now its as easy as downloading a CAD program onto your own computer. 

Downloading CAD

Today, you can download a CAD system onto any major platform:

When downloading CAD, there are a few hardware specifications to keep in mind. In order for CAD to run smoothly and operate at peak performance, you want to be sure your workstation or personal computer has a good amount of RAM and storage, as well as a good display.

Types of CAD

CAD software can be broken down into four broad categories:

  1. 2D CAD uses basic geometric shapes to create flat drawings.
  2. 3D CAD can create three-dimensional drawings that are able to be rotated on any plane.
  3. 3D Wireframe and Surface Modeling can be used to create wireframe models that are see-through, or it can be used to join 3D surfaces and make a model that is opaque.
  4. Solid Modeling is similar to surface modeling, but you are able to add weight, volume, and density to the renderings.









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