CAD, or Computer-Aided Design, refers to a number or suite of computer software tools used in design applications such as architecture, engineering, and manufacturing. The main purpose of CAD is to produce neat, precise, comprehensive, and safe technical drawings and outlines in order to represent an idea, scheme, or concept—better known as an automated system for the design, drafting, and display of graphically oriented information. From simple tasks such as making blueprints of electrical and plumbing installations, CAD can be used to perform complex calculations such as that of the wind drag on new car-body designs.
Initially, when CAD systems came out, they were simply known as automated drafting systems. Today, they include a whole range of software, from 2D vector-based drafting systems to 3D parametric-surface and solid-design modelers. The importance of CAD technology has now been recognized in almost every industry. For example, in the medical field, CAD is widely used by radiologists as “a second pair of eyes” when reading mammograms. Basically, radiologists activate the CAD software after reviewing a mammogram and then re-evaluate the marked area(s) before issuing a final report.
CAD is also extensively used in fields such as Architecture, Engineering, and Construction; Mechanical Computer-Aided Design such as Automotive, Aerospace, Consumer Goods, Machinery, and Ship Building; Electronic and Electrical; and Manufacturing-process planning.
The biggest CAD software companies include Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, PTC, and UGS Corp. Software packages range from 2D drafting systems such as AutoCAD and Microstation; mid-range 3D solid-feature modelers such as SolidWorks, SolidEdge, Alibre; and high-end 3D hybrid systems CATIA and NX.