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What is CAD Software?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Computer-aided design, or CAD, software is a modeling tool used by architects and engineers to design three-dimensional objects. This software is used to create new products or deepen the understanding of existing products. Although best known for working with shapes, this type of software has all the standard symbols required for technical drawings and schematics. There are four key features to CAD software: functionality, impact on the industry, training, and price.

There are three functions to CAD software that revolutionized the design industry: multi-dimensional images, computer animation, and computational geometry. Multi-dimensional images need curves, surfaces and solids, all of which are very difficult to create on a computer screen. The physical drawing of these shapes requires art training and the use of shading to indicate other dimensions.

CAD software allows the images to be rotated 360 degrees, providing designers with the opportunity to model the entire object much faster and without the need to physically render the item first. The computer animation aspect has impacted both the entertainment and engineering industry. In entertainment, it has allowed the development of higher quality cartoons and commercials. In engineering, both the form and function can be modeled and any designer flaws can be seen and corrected, before the creation of a physical prototype. Computational geometry and industrial art have also capitalized on the functions available in this tool to create a new type of sophisticated product that better suits their unique needs.

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The adoption of CAD software resulted in the elimination of a large number of drafting and designer jobs. Entire departments could be replaced with one software package. Engineers and architects were required to learn the software and incorporate different tasks into their jobs. Over time, a new role of CAD designer has developed. This person has an advanced skill level with the software and may act as an adviser to other designers and engineers.

Training on CAD software is now incorporated into every engineering, architect, and designer education program. Specialized courses in specific software and advance functions are available on a part-time basis at a wide range of community and career colleges. It is very important to keep these skills updated, as the software is constantly upgraded and changes over time.

The price of CAD software has dropped significantly as the usage increased and the size of computer memory expanded. The software now offers complex, highly advanced features for the same price as the base version three years ago. These tools have allowed designed to test out new theories and explore options before continuing.

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sunnySkys
Post 4

I think it's interesting that over the course of only a few years, the price for CAD software programs could drop so dramatically. I suppose that's because the use is so widespread now.

Even when I was in high school, CAD software was popular enough that my high school had a drafting class that taught the use of CAD software. Also, one of my friends dad's worked as an architect, and I remember that he used CAD software at his job too, although at that time they did still use some drawn designs. I imagine that's a thing of the past now!

strawCake
Post 3

@KaBoom - It is sad that so many people lost their jobs because of CAD design software, but I still think CAD software is a good thing for industry in the long run. After all, it's much more economical to buy a software package instead of pay an entire department of people to do something!

Also, I think that CAD software probably opened up some jobs too. Someone needs to teach classes on how to use CAD software, after all! Also I imagine companies that use CAD software need someone to maintain and troubleshoot the software too.

KaBoom
Post 2

3-D CAD software sounds really awesome, but it makes me kind of sad that so many people lost their jobs when it was introduced. I can't imagine one software package being able to replace a whole department of people, as the article said. I imagine hundreds of people lost their jobs at different companies when CAD was introduced.

I wonder if some of them went on to get additional training so they could use CAD, or if they took their skills elsewhere? After all, there are a lot of different jobs for designers, and not all of them can be replaced with software.

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