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Computer Aided Design – An Introduction

written by: Ricky • edited by: Swagatam • updated: 9/9/2008

Marvels of engineering excellence are all around us and sometimes we get so absorbed in their beauty and grandeur that we seldom stop to think how those items were first thought and later transformed into the material shape that they possess. Computer aided design is one key element.

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    Progress is always made from the most basic concepts and principles and their subsequent application and evolution over a period of time, thus leading to ever more complex forms of structure. This could be said as the equivalent of the Darwin’s theory of evolution…just try to remember the survival of the fittest sort of stuff you must have read at school.

    Similarly in the field of manufacturing science and technology, any product, shape or structure is first conceived in the mind of the technician or the engineer. This is the stage where natural psychological phenomenons play an important role and characteristics such as intelligence, creativity etc are put to use unconsciously by the human mind. As they say that well begun is half done, hence we can assume that a great idea itself lays down a strong foundation for a great product or structure.

    This intellectual idea takes its first material form in the shape of a sketch or drawing and this is known as the design of that component. A good design is as crucial to an actual product, as is a good recipe crucial to a tasty dish. In the days of the yore the draftsmen used to sit long hours working using their drawing instruments painfully creating those design sketches.

    Times have changed a lot and now computer technology has literally turned the world upside down. Hence it is not surprising to see that even the hitherto traditional practices are changing in tune with the times, which is infact a very good sign of progress. Gone are the days when manual designs were painstakingly made although the practice is not fully obsolete as yet. Nevertheless a large percentage of designs today are manufactured using computer technology.

    This very concept forms the basis for CAD or Computer Aided Design; the term broadly refers to the concept of the use of computers in the design process of various products including small products such as nut-bolts to huge structures. Since computer programs are easy to use and more versatile in nature, they tend to make designing a much more interesting and enjoyable experience.

    There are several different software available either in the free market or for a reasonable fee as the case might be which can be used to design a component or a structural item depending on the requirements. The names of some of the popularly used computer aided design programs include AUTOQ3D, Magic, MeshLab, Wings 3D and so forth. Obviously this list is not exhaustive but serves to give a clue to the customer about the possible platforms available from which to choose upon, based on specific work requirements.

    In the earlier days of computer aided design, it was only affordable by huge companies and enterprises on account of their huge budget but in the current times when personal computers have become very affordable and rule the roost today, Computer Aided Design certainly has an increasingly important role to play in the manufacturing segment.