CAD stands for computer aided designing or drafting. It is also referred to as computer assisted designing or drafting. A Mechanical Engineer has to design components by carrying a number of complex calculations. After designing they have to make drawings of these components which further consumes lots of time. Similarly an Architect and Civil Engineering has to make complex calculations of designing the building and drafting. The interior decorator has to design the furniture and place them aesthetically inside the room. A number of other engineering professionals like electrical, chemical and others have to frequently design various components and draft complex drawings.
CAD is actually a combination of software and hardware that helps engineers and architects in designing almost all the components right from furniture, refrigerator, washing machine, car, to airplanes. CAD is sometimes also called CADD, which stands for computer aided designing and drafting. The software part of CAD is comprised of a program that helps in designing and drafting the components, and creating their 2D, 3D and solid models. The hardware part is comprised of high resolution monitor, light pen for drawing, and a plotter or a printer for printing the drawings. Since most of this hardware is commonly being used by number of people, now CAD is usually referred as software.
Numerous CAD software has come up in the market, but the most popular one is AutoCAD developed by Autodesk. The other CAD software which provides features very similar to AutoCAD, but is much cheaper, is CADopia. The files saved in AutoCAD are in .dwg format which is supported by CADopia also. A few other CAD software programs available in the market include: CATIA, MathCAD, QuickCAD etc.
By using CAD software the engineers can see the designs developed by them in any angle. They can change certain parameters, and accordingly the design changes which can be reviewed immediately. The CAD software can also keep track of parameters on which the design depends. CAD software greatly reduces product development costs and shortens the design cycle.
Present day CAD software programs are embedded with a number of modern tools like AutoLisp editor, Microsoft VBA, Boolean operations, etc. Today CAD software has become an inseparable part of the design and drafting engineers, architects, interior decorators.
Many times CAD software is used in combination with CAM (computer aided manufacturing). The components that are designed by using the software are manufactured on the CNC machines by programming these machines as per the dimensions of the designed components. The CAD/CAM software has made designing and manufacturing of components easier and faster, thus increasing the productivity of the companies.