CAD, or computer-aided-design software, revolutionized the design and prototyping process for many industries. Before it was introduced, development was largely handled manually, which was a tedious and resource-intensive process.
Due to the nature of prototyping and concept design, a variety of adjustments was needed, which could lead to errors and maybe even worse. With manual, hand-drawn or written content, this process could end up taking a while. With CAD software, however, it’s super easy and convenient, which explains why it’s completely replaced the traditional drawing board process. Nearly 60 percent of CAD users download 3-D models monthly, and 50 percent of manufacturing-related users download multiple models per month. It’s a bustling industry.
Engineering, manufacturing and architecture are the most common industries utilizing CAD software, as you likely know. It also makes an appearance in a variety of other industries, though.
In the high-tech and expensive aerospace industry, the initial design process, concept creation and development can all be costly, which is an understatement. There’s an underlying need for technologies and systems that allow designers to create without limitations.
The beauty of CAD software is that you can create a fully working design of a project, location or item, and you can render it in detail. It’s a budget-friendly solution — at least compared to the alternative — for thoroughly planning and developing new projects.
Education and Training
Utah State University of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering relies on modern CAD software to train and educate students who are looking to enter the aerospace industry. The software not only allows designers to build, create and manipulate. But it also allows them to their visions in real-time. The sheer value this offers for education and training is unprecedented. Imagine this being used in nearly every training and educational program. Engineering and construction, landscaping, urban planning — they can all make good use of these tools when it comes to informing recruits.
Auto manufacturers have been designing vehicles for nearly a century to their own specifications and conditions. However, one thing is evolving in retail, commerce and nearly every other industry that will shape the future: Personalization. Customers now demand incredible depth out of the products and services they purchase, namely in relation to their own interests and needs.
This will become increasingly true of all technology and products they own, including their vehicles. Thanks to universal access to rich data, actionable insights and performance metrics, designers and team managers now know more than ever about their customers.
This provides designers — especially those working with CAD tools — with a variety of contextual and past data that can be used to influence future projects. Furthermore, project managers will understand more about resource allocation, IT investments, development requirements and innovation, which can be rolled back into the design process. In other words, CAD design for the automotive industry will become more targeted and more efficient.
Weistec Engineering was able to create a Scan-to-CAD process, which allows it to reverse engineer automotive concepts for use in CAD tools.
CAD software is the obvious choice when it comes to designing large-scale construction and structural projects. What you may not know is that it’s great for smaller, unorthodox projects, too.
Building log cabins, for instance, is an incredibly precise process. CAD software can be used to create a working floor plan, including the napkin stretch and layout changes. This can also help the builders measure and fit the various beams and logs for maximum structural support.
There are many difficulties related to planning urban landscapes and projects, especially when dealing with the overall infrastructure. There are many elements and systems you need to work around, along with a variety of dangers. Working near existing structures and landmarks, for example, can have dire consequences if not properly planned out.
CAD software can be utilized by urban planners to appropriately plan things like bridges, parks, large complexes, shopping centers and even industrial units. More importantly, they can tap into stores of collected data to ensure everything goes as planned. That includes using blueprints and structural reports for ductwork, wiring, plumbing and much more.
In the past, an interior designer would have to sketch or digitally create a representation of a remodel or redesign. Primarily, this was for the customer, so they could see the project conceptualized. Modern CAD and design software, however, is completely altering this process.
Interior designers can bring their creation and vision to life, right down to the realistic textures and minute details. They can then present this model in a variety of ways, including on screen or through augmented reality and virtual reality experiences.
Essentially, this allows customers to see a design in incredible detail before it’s ever started. This not only helps designers fine-tune the process, but it also involves customers much more in the entire project.
Similar to interior design, CAD software has allowed fashion industry professionals to create a working and visual model of their projects before doing any hard labor. Many designers still opt to create their visions by hand, drawing and sketching out various components of an outfit or accessory. That can now be integrated with CAD software to help smooth the final stages. For example, software can be used to discern the most efficient fabric cut, test pattern scaling, increase or decrease sizes and much more.
More importantly, designers can see their clothing worn by virtual models and in varying sizes. They can then make adjustments on the fly in order to alter how the clothing fits, moves and looks. This amounts to a better, more accurate creation process for everyone.
Florida-based Sci Chic, a jewelry firm, uses CAD software to create and develop new designs. It builds astronomy- and science-inspired pieces, using CAD to visually create and 3-D printers to realize the designs.
The Future of CAD and Digital Design
As you can see from some of the examples here, CAD tools are becoming both more efficient and more accurate. This is because it’s more capable now than it’s ever been, with a variety of new features and support. However, the real culprit of that change is modern technologies such as big data and predictive analytics. These additional technologies will allow industries to fine-tune their CAD and design process.
Vehicle manufacturers, for example, can see exactly what their customers want from a new series or model simply by looking at past performance and sales data. While this seems shallow, it’s not. The data collected is vast, and it provides a great deal of opportunity for growth and change.
Expect to see these tools merge and enter the design world, along with every other industry it touches.