31 Aug CAD or CAE: Computer-Aided Design or Engineering
It’s not just for machine shops anymore
It’s hard to believe that Computer-Aided Design (CAD) was born out of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) programs in the late 1950s. The early ’60s advanced the engineering design tool even further, providing the first graphical user interface, allowing architects and engineers to draw on a CRT monitor, the first digitizer, and production interactive graphics.
By the 70s, CAD moved from 2D to 3D and by the 1980s, the first program compatible with IBM PCs was produced.
From these humble beginnings, CAD has now become one of the most used and accessible programs for production, manufacturing, engineering, architecture, and design. Makers and large companies alike utilize the software to get their products made and out to the consumer.
What Is CAD?
Computer-assisted design or drafting is used to determine whether a project should or can be initiated. It lets you picture what the end product will look like, the amount of material required, and the amount of time, which allows you to determine feasibility and cost. CAD allows you to create a model and find the errors before manufacturing begins.
Fashion Design, Media, Entertainment, Architecture, Cartography, Aerospace, Interior Design, Civil Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering, all benefit from the use of CAD software programs. Even Makers that want to produce signs created or a plasma table or small parts created on a 3D printer can benefit from CAD to make the most of their product and their production.
What is G-Code?
In 1957, before COBOL or BASIC, G-Code became a standard for machining. One of the oldest programming languages still used today, it was created to perform statistical and mathematical calculations.
Original G-Code was used on 2-Axis plots but over time the expanded use of the code has allowed it to be used in 12-axis machining. Macro programming allows for the use of variables, allowing the code to be recalled in various parts of the program. Utilizing if/then logic statements, G-Code is used by programmers that create as well as CAD software programs.
G-Code dictates the movement of a machine. Whether it’s a lathe, a plasma cutter, a 3-D printer, or a CNC machine, the code is entered to move each tool that needs to be utilized with the material economy and time efficiency.
CAD Software Applications
While G-Code is used throughout CAD, users of the software programs don’t necessarily need to know the language anymore. Between pre-coded programs available, often for free, and software that can delineate a design or diagram from a photo, the latest CAD software makes production easy and user-friendly.
There are software programs specifically designed for certain fields.
- Create models of structures and systems in 3D with precision
- Keep documentation of work at the ready for revisions and schedule changes
- And provide teams tools to keep the project flowing.
Civil Engineers can get a special software program to allow them to
- Create a model-based environment for
- Provide documentation with a “design-driven approach to plan production”.
- And use BIM (Building Information Modeling) for project coordination and collaboration.
All field-specific software programs lead to better design decisions and project quality.
There are a number of software programs available. You can find options to suit not only your needs but your budget.
No longer do you require a console on your machine. Many programs can be utilized on your laptop or desktop and then transferred to a tablet to interface with the machine you are using.
CAE Computer Assisted Engineering
Dave Martin, in his blog “7 New CAD Technologies”, talks about how CAD software has become a virtual engineering assistant at your fingertips. More and more technology relies on AI and CAD has become more CAE than ever.
Utilizing emerging technologies, and 3D modeling tools CAD can now apply math and mechanical theory to design.
- Topology Optimization and Generative Design,
- Additive Manufacturing,
- Real-Time Simulation,
- Multibody Modeling,
- Behavioral Modeling,
- Design Exploration, and
- Cloud Computing,
all aid CAD users in creating a scope of work and managing a project plan.
CAD isn’t just used in engineering and design. It can also be used in medicine to help determine the best way to work through a medical procedure. It’s used in animation and to create computer-generated images, such as fields of soldiers or swarms of killer sharks.
CAD is looking to utilize more Virtual Reality technology, AI, Robotization, and Cloud-based technology. The software is trying to find new ways to personalize the use of CAD and find ways to utilize it in even more areas than it is currently used.
CAD or CAE is not bound to go anywhere soon. It will keep evolving as our needs evolve and other technologies evolve. In fact, without it, many of those technologies would or will never be available.
Whether it’s utilized in an automobile factory, a land development company, a furniture designer, or a guy in his basement trying to make a cup holder for his car, CAD is software that continues to function, with or without a CNC machine.
It’s not just for a machine shop anymore. CAD is for the masses.