Modern engineering has been one of the most in-demand services that technology had great impact on. Modern engineering design and drafting can be traced back to the development of descriptive geometry in the 16th and 17th centuries. Drafting methods improved with the introduction of drafting machines, but the creation of engineering drawings changed very little until after World War II.
Patrick Hanratty and Ivan Sutherland contributed significantly on today’s well known Computer-aided Design (CAD), as they consider it as a faster and more accurate tool compared to previous drafting methods.
Computer-aided design (CAD) is the use of computer systems or workstations to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design. CAD software is used to increase the productivity of the designer, improve the quality of design, improve communications through documentation, and to create a database for manufacturing. CAD output is often in the form of electronic files for print, machining, or other manufacturing operations.
Starting around the mid-1970s, as computer-aided design systems began to provide more capability than just an ability to reproduce manual drafting with electronic drafting, the cost benefit for companies to switch to CAD became apparent. The benefits of CAD systems over manual drafting are the capabilities one often takes for granted from computer systems today; automated generation of Bill of Material, auto layout in integrated circuits, interference checking, and many others. Eventually, CAD provided the designer with the ability to perform engineering calculations.
During this transition, calculations were still performed either by hand or by those individuals who could run computer programs. CAD was a revolutionary change in the engineering industry, where draftsmen, designers and engineering roles begin to merge. Current computer-aided design software packages range from 2D vector-based drafting systems to 3D solid and surface modelers. Modern CAD packages can also frequently allow rotations in three dimensions, allowing viewing of a designed object from any desired angle, even from the inside looking out. Some CAD software is capable of dynamic mathematical modeling, in which case it may be marketed as CAD.
CAD is mainly used for detailed engineering of 3D models and/or 2D drawings of physical components, but it is also used throughout the engineering process from conceptual design and layout of products, through strength and dynamic analysis of assemblies to definition of manufacturing methods of components. It can also be used to design objects. Furthermore, many CAD applications now offer advanced rendering and animation capabilities so engineers can better visualize their product designs.
A more recent application of 3D modelling is 3D-printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM) of 3-dimensional objects, in which layers of material are formed under computer control to create an object from CAD models.
Another application of CAD software is in the definition of a mechanical part’s dimensions, translated into manufacturing directives by computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. The directives are transformed into specific machine commands to produce the component and loaded into the computer numerical control (CNC) machine.