Best Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Software include:
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Learn More About Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Software
What is Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Software?
Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is the use of an application to help create or optimize a design. Therefore, CAD software allows engineers, architects, designers, and others to create precision drawings or technical illustrations in 2D or 3D. This category of software can increase productivity, improve quality, and maximize organization by creating a documentation database for manufacturing.
CAD software has a host of applications, including the design of manufacturing parts, electronic circuit boards, prototypes for 3D printers, and buildings. Typically, this software uses either traditional vector-based graphics or raster graphics which show how finished objects would actually look.
CAD software can also facilitate the flow from the design process to the manufacturing process. This software can simulate the movement of a part through the manufacturing process in three dimensions. As this software becomes ever better at simulating the manufacturing process, specialized software for designing the manufacturing process and controlling machine tools called Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) has become integrated with CAD as a single platform.
Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Features & Capabilities
Professional-level software packages usually have the following features:
Simulation and analysis, such as simulating real world use of an item to identify areas with a propensity for thermal stress and buckling
Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Software Comparison
To compare different CAD programs, consider these factors for each product offering:
2D vs. 3D specialty: Leading CAD software will support both 2D and 3D design, however, some do specialize in one mode of design over the other. Fully investigate reviews of the software you’re considering for what type of design it may excel and/or falter at.
Industry-focus: Some CAD programs are specially designed for specific industries, or have add-on sets to make your CAD experienced tailored to your application. For example, Autodesk tools are really popular within the animation and art industries, whereas SketchUp sees a lot of popularity amongst architects given its tools for building design.
Usage and team size: CAD software can get increasingly expensive the more employees you need to use it simultaneously. Most tools have caps on how many users can use one license, and how many workstations the software can be installed upon. Identifying the number of users and workstations should be one of the first steps of your CAD software buying process.
Start a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software comparison
There is a lot of variance for CAD software pricing. Given that its one of the oldest software categories on the market, there are a sizable amount of viable options available for free, including open-sourced programs. Students and educators in this space also receive discounts on pricing, and in some cases free licenses.
For small business professional use, pricing can be as low as $99/year, but enterprises can expect to pay at least a $1,000/yr to support CAD software usage across teams. Product comparison pages may have more information about specific pricing and how products stack up against one another in terms of budgeting.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a few ways Computer-Aided Design (CAD) can be categorized:
- 2-D design (traditional animation, architectural site maps)
- 3-D design (figures, product design)
- Common roles: engineers, drafters, product designers, etc.
- Common industries: consumer products, architecture, aerospace & aviation, healthcare, etc.
While CAD software has a wide variety of use cases ranging from animation to architectural design, it is most commonly used by, and thus associated with, engineers.
A wide variety of engineers utilize CAD programs such as electrical, manufacturing, mechanical, industrial, and product development engineers. Other common roles are "designers" or "drafters".
CAD software is an incredibly useful tool for anyone who has to create either 2D or 3D designs as a major component of their role.