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.

 

 

 

 

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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