What Is CAD Modeling?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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CAD modeling is used by many designers to create elaborate computerized models of objects before they are physically produced. CAD stands for computer-aided design. Engineers, architects, and even artists utilize computers to assist in their design projects. Computers allow them to visualize their designs and confront problems before they have expended any of the resources necessary to put them into physical form.

CAD modeling takes many different forms depending on the type of project. Some models are simple two-dimensional representations of various views of an object. Others are elaborate three-dimensional cross-sections that show every detail in great depth. Some CAD models are even animated, showing how all of the components of the model work together to complete its function.

Many different professions make use of computer-aided design. It is an important industrial art involved in automotive, aerospace, prosthetic, and artistic designs. The use of CAD modeling is massively widespread; anything from chairs to rockets can be designed with the aid of computer programs. Among other titles, CAD modelers are referred to as CAD monkeys, designers, and digital information engineers.

CAD began as an elite, knowledge-intensive design style accessible only to those with money and great engineering and computer knowledge. Over the course of its life, it has worked its way to the personal computer. Almost anyone with access to a personal computer can acquire the software and skills necessary to make simple CAD models.


College engineering courses place much emphasis on the teaching of CAD modeling. It is an essential skill for most engineers, and mechanical engineers find it to be particularly useful. Early on, students learn the basics of the CAD program’s interface and how to apply their knowledge to specific designs. In more advanced classes, they learn the intricacies of three-dimensional modeling and animation.

One CAD modeler can easily replace several pen-and-paper drafters. This type of modeling greatly increases speed and efficiency of design work. CAD software, however, can be very expensive. Training for CAD designers can also be expensive. Therefore, sellers of CAD modeling technology are constantly working toward less-expensive, more accessible software.

The engineering process is a long and complex one, and CAD modeling has had a profound effect on the process’s development. First, a general idea must be made to solve a specific problem. Next, this type of modeling is used to work out the specifics of the model’s design. At one time, this step would have involved several drafters making dozens of sketches and diagrams until a perfected model could be devised. Now, a single CAD file can be made, edited and continually tweaked until the object is ready for production.


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