CAD stands for Computer-Aided Design and is an everyday tool in our generation of engineering. No matter what you do in engineering, you will either use CAD on a daily basis or could benefit from some limited knowledge of the resources it has to offer. With the growth of 3D printing, CAD is not only a commercially used software, but is becoming more common for all users, whether it be for engineering, art, or anything else!
There are two very common CAD software used in the professional world.
#1 AutoCAD by Autodesk
#2 SOLIDWORKS by Dassault
What do I use as a Manufacturing Engineer?
We use AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS where I work. Unfortunately, the mechanical engineering program I went through did not place any emphasis on AutoCAD. The Civil Engineering program uses AutoCAD heavily while the mechanical engineering program uses SOLIDWORKS. I wish AutoCAD would be included in the ME curriculum. It would have been HIGHLY beneficial to my education and skill set coming out of college. Self-teaching AutoCAD isn’t impossible but it’s not very efficient. Note to all you mechanical engineering students out there: Makes friends with a “civil” and learn AutoCAD!
When I’m working on plant layouts for process flow changes, I’m drawing in AutoCAD.
When I am working on tooling or prototype designs, I am modeling in SOLIDWORKS.
So, what’s the main difference between AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS?
AutoCAD focuses on the 2D realm while SOLIDWORKS focuses on the 3D realm. Both are incredibly useful tools for drawing and prototyping. You can certainly do 3D on AutoCAD, and AutoCAD’s parent company has a product, Autodesk Inventor, which is extremely similar to SOLIDWORKS. However, at my current job, typically we’re using SOLIDWORKS when we want to work with 3D models.
What about CAD for kids?
Currently, my husband’s middle school STEM lab uses Tinkercad. Tinkercad lets you build with shapes and is a great starting place for anyone to give CAD a try. You can let your imagination go wild and then 3D print your design!
Other CAD software options for varying skill levels:
CAD allows users to bring their ideas to life in ways that we never could before. I believe it will someday be a skill as common as typing on the computer. We have so quickly adapted to new technologies of this world and CAD is another tool that is becoming more and more common in everyday life. It is creeping out of the “professionals only” world and making its way into our everyday lives.
Do you use CAD? If so, tell me which one and for what purpose!