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What is engineering CAD software?
Engineering CAD (computer-aided design) software is used by architectural and engineering drafters to create precise 2D and 3D drawings, models, and technical illustrations of structures, products, and physical components.
The benefits of engineering CAD software
- Consolidated design and analytics tools: The traditional paper-based design process is cumbersome and separates the design and analysis process. CAD systems consolidate design and analytical capabilities, making for a smoother workflow and increased productivity.
- Better visualization/simulation of end products: Engineering CAD solutions with 3D modeling capabilities allow for better analysis of models under different conditions. 3D tools also offer interactive virtual tours of models for more accurate visualization of end products.
Typical features of engineering CAD software
- Manufacturing design data storage: Collect and store all relevant manufacturing-related data for the final product such as production material, size, shape, and weight.
- 2D drawing: Create and edit technical drawings and annotate designs.
- 3D modeling: Represent and visualize objects using a collection of points in three dimensions.
- Design analysis: Simulate the physical behavior of a component, product, or structure in order to minimize, or even eliminate, the need for physical prototyping and testing.
- Design export: Convert the design into another file format that is easily readable by other users.
- Reporting/analytics: Monitor key project metrics and report them to relevant stakeholders.
Considerations when purchasing engineering CAD software
- Determine your requirements before choosing a CAD package: CAD software solutions come with different capabilities such as 2D CAD, 3D CAD, and multi-CAD; multi-CAD can be beneficial if you (or your partners, vendors, or clients) use different CAD systems. Then there’s the software’s deployment, which will be either cloud-based or on-premise. Ensure that the features of the options you’re considering align with your operational requirements and budget.
- Total cost of ownership (TCO): TOC is an estimate of all the direct (procurement) and indirect costs (maintenance, upgrades, supporting/compatible hardware, etc.) associated with an asset over its entire life cycle. Before purchasing CAD software, calculate whether the TCO fits into your budget. For example, 2D software is less expensive than advanced 3D modeling tools, and the annual maintenance fees of 3D software are expensive.
- Integration with other solutions: CAD software must be able to integrate with other systems, such as simulation tools and database software. This will allow for a seamless transfer between systems and ensure smooth workflows.
Relevant engineering CAD software trends
- Augmented reality (AR) enables better visualization of 2D drawings and 3D models: With AR, a target in the real world is used to keep the augmented 3D data in the correct positioning. It allows users to walk around the object and get a 360-degree view. This provides an improved understanding of CAD drawings, geometric features, and projection views.
- 3D printing helps design physical prototypes in less time: 3D printing is often used to create physical prototypes— thin layers of material are solidified using 3D printers. In order to print something, a design is created using 3D CAD software or by using a 3D scanner to scan the object you want to print. This CAD-3D printing partnership will help designers test multiple outputs with different specifications and finalize the most optimal configuration.