Introduction to CAD Design Tools
What is CAD?
Computer Aided Design also commonly known as CAD is the use of computers or workstations to create, modify, analyze or optimize a 2D or 3D design. They can also be used for technical documentation, which replaces the manual drafting process with an automated one. CAD Software is being used by engineers and designers all over the world for a wide variety of purposes.
Types of CAD Design Tools
There are two types of CAD Design Tools, 2D CAD software and 3D CAD Software:
- 2D CAD: a 2D CAD software is a computer-aided design tool that allows engineers or designers to make the draft and necessary documentation. A two dimensional CAD software provides the overall dimensions, layouts, and the information needed in order to reproduce, create or build a model. However, most companies don’t use 2D CAD Software.
- 3D CAD: a 3D CAD software is a computer-aided design tool that allows the user to create 3D Models. In other words, a 3D CAD software allows the user to make parts in 2D and then view them in 3D. This feature makes 3D CAD tools much more complex and advanced than the 2D CAD Tools. Using 3D CAD software, the designer is able to see how the parts interact with each other in an assembly, and can easily spot flaws and unwanted features. Most industrial companies use 3D CAD Software.
What Are CAD Design Tools used for?
Thanks to the advancement of technology and the rapid increasing of computers all over the world, designing has become much easier and CAD software is now available to every modeler or engineer. So why are CAD Design Tools so important? Below is a list of their applications:
- Creating 3D models to be used as a 3D Graphic prototype.
- Performing Finite Element Analysis (FEA) on 3D Models to check if they can resist certain loads.
- Performing Computational Fluid Dynamics (also known as CFD) which is an analysis of fluid flows.
- Creating a 3D Model that could be later printed by a 3D Printer.
- Finding out how the assembly would look like and how the sub-assemblies and parts would interact with each other.
- Allowing designers and engineers to render an object with high quality.
- Enabling CAD modelers to create animations and photo-realistic views of the product.
- Capable of making designs in highly competitive domains such as automobile and aerospace business.
- Helping architects plan the building blueprints and show the clients how a house or building looks like once built.
Pros and Cons of Using CAD Tools
Benefits of using CAD Tools
Using CAD software and tools can bring a lot of benefits to the table such as:
- It can better represent an object in a 3D model compared to a graph on a piece of paper.
- It is more accurate to use CAD software to show a product than any other graphics tool.
- Some products require a CAD Model in order to create 3D Printable Objects.
- When working with large assemblies, it is vital to use CAD software because it is accurate and clear when testing how the parts work together.
- It makes design changes both faster and easier. This feature is extremely important when working with delicate parts or large assemblies.
- Creating 3D models can speed up the approval process from the clients.
- Providing 3D CAD Models helps to prepare excellent proposals as well as optimizing the product’s performance.
Drawbacks of using CAD Tools
Even though CAD software has lots of pros, it also has its own share of cons such as:
- CAD Software can be challenging to learn especially for someone new to graphical design tools.
- Some CAD software can be really expensive especially for individuals and small startup companies.
- To switch from one CAD software to another is not only money consuming but also time-consuming. This is due to the fact that one has to learn completely new software (new interface, new manipulation techniques…)
Best 5 CAD Design Tools
Solidworks is a CAD Software that is considered to be probably the best CAD Software to use in the market. Solidworks provides designers and engineers with almost all workshops that other CAD software offer with extreme flexibility and good end results. Solidworks can be used both for professional purposes as well as simply for educational purposes. Solidworks is one of the most commonly used CAD Software in both the US and the Whole World.
Pros: Extremely flexible, user-friendly, great support, various useful Workshops, and features.
Cons: Doesn’t work on MAC, the price can be a problem for small companies, automobile companies do not use Solidworks.
Many engineers and designers actually consider NX Siemens the greatest CAD Software in the market. Many automobile companies use NX Siemens, due to the fact that it is extremely accurate with a wide range of features, tools, and workshops. Its FEA (Finite Element Analysis) feature is probably the best among other CAD software.
Pros: user-friendly, great Support, widely used in the automobile industries, powerful FEA Tools.
Cons: the cost and pricing could be challenging for many.
CATIA V5 is one of the most used CAD software in the world because it is old as well as extremely competent. CATIA V5 is mostly used in automobile companies and Aerospace Industries.
Pros: the most used CAD Software in the automobile industry.
Cons: can be challenging for manipulations and use. It is also extremely expensive.
PTC Creo is a CAD Software that is slowly paving its way to the top of the table. It is easier to use than Solidworks, it has a lot of tools, features, and workshops, and many car and automobile companies are starting to use PTC Creo.
Pros: very easy to use and manipulate, can be as competitive as CATIA and NX Siemens.
Cons: not many companies use PTC Creo.
FreeCAD is a multiplatform CAD Software that can read and write to many open file formats such as STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DXF, OBJ, IFC, DAE, and many others. This variety of file formats make it extremely easy to integrate it into a workflow. Even though FreeCAD is not as professional as CATIA or NX Siemens, the fact that it is free makes it extremely efficient especially for small companies and individuals.
Pros: Free, user-friendly, multiplatform.
Cons: not considered as a professional CAD Software.
In conclusion, CAD tools and software are extremely important and vital in engineering fields such as building houses, manufacturing cars or 3D printing. That is why it is important to choose the proper tool for the proper job.