As the name suggests, CAD or Computer-Aided Design is a computer application that helps designers and engineers accurately create, modify, and optimize designs. Many designers, engineers, architects, and construction managers use CAD to create precision drawings in either 2D or 3D rendering. CAD helps in improving quality and increasing the workflow of an industry.
Using CAD means to use CAD softwares and they include a host of applications from mechanical and structural designing to architectural and electrical & electronic circuit designing, prototypes for 3D printers, and so on. This software generally uses vector-based graphics. Sometimes raster graphics are also used by these softwares in order to visualize how the finished product may look like. In this article, we will take a look at some of the most popular and widely used CAD softwares available in the market.
The first software on our list is AutoCAD from Autodesk. It was one of the first-ever released CAD softwares, having launched way back in 1982. Since then, AutoCAD has been used by many industry professionals for accurate drafting as well as faculties and students for academia. AutoCAD is referred to as the most basic software that any aspiring designer should learn.
Nowadays, however, AutoCAD is mainly used for 2D drafting, as many better 3D modelling CAD softwares have been made available in the market. Although the value and importance of this benchmark CAD software can never be neglected as, it is still used in many institutions to introduce students to the world of designing. Many tools used in the software are found in all other CAD softwares.
This is another most widely used CAD software from professionals to academic researchers and faculties everybody in the world of designing uses this software. Founded in 1993 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the SolidWorks Corporation was later incorporated by the Dassault Systemes in 1997. SolidWorks remain a favoured CAD software for many wishing to work in surface and solid modelling workbenches.
SolidWorks provides users with various workbenches other than the two mentioned above, namely, Weldments and Assembly workbenches. The former is used to design welding structures, and the latter is used to create an assembly product using either the Top-Down or Bottom-Up assembly approach.
Released a few years after the launching of AutoCAD and then known as Pro/ENGINEER this CAD software was brought to the designing community in 1988 by Parametric Technology Corporation. They were the first to introduce a parametric, associative, feature-based stable modelling software.
In fact, ProE, now known as PTC Creo, is a suite of softwares including various modelling workbenches and softwares used for thermal, structural, and motion designs along with parametric and free-style surface generating modules. Moreover, simulations on designed structures can also be carried out with the Creo Simulations software that is a part of the software suite.
Another suite of CAD/CAM/CAE software from the Dassault Systems, CATIA, otherwise known as Computer-Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application, was first launched in 1977, twenty years before they incorporated SolidWorks. CATIA was launched by what was then a French aircraft manufacturer Avions Marcel Dassault for aircraft modelling. Later on, it came to be known as Dassault Systemes CATIA.
The software suite includes CAD workbenches as well as CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) and CAE (Computer-Aided Engineering) workbenches as well. While the CAD workbenches allow users to design various solid models along with surface modelling, CAM workbenches enable users to encode the CAD product in CNC language and feed the code to those machines to automate the manufacturing process. CAE workbenches allow users to undertake advanced Engineering R&D processes such as simulations and analysis.
Fusion 360° is a cloud-based 3D CAD software launched by Autodesk, the minds behind AutoCAD. It was first launched as a commercially available software in 2013, making it the most recent software in our list here.
Fusion 360° is a CAD/CAM software that is accurate and used for collaborative product development. This software enables its users to collaborate in order to develop a product with various explorations and iterations.