Computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting software includes a number of powerful applications that make the old methods of hand-drawing obsolete. With so much information out there about CAD software and its applications it is hard to know where to begin educating yourself. Fortunately, there are only a few basic pieces of information you'll need to know to be able to evaluate computer-aided drafting as a career or an addition to your business.
In previous decades, drafters had to draw their designs by hand. Mistakes and revisions meant that entire sets of drawings had to be completely redone. Since its inception, computer-aided drafting has saved untold man hours by allowing drafters to correct mistakes and make revisions without manually redrawing pages of blueprints. Further, block libraries make it possible to insert common objects into a drawing without having to draw the object each time it is used.
Computer-aided drafting and design allows users to create drawings for a variety of purposes. Drafting standards exist for different disciplines within this field. CAD software allows the user to create blueprints for architectural, mechanical, civil, electrical and aeronautical projects among others. The drawings must be accurate, as they are usually used in the field by construction workers, installers, electricians and other professionals who follow the drawings to the letter.
A variety of computer-aided drafting and design programs exist that allow the user to draw in different ways. Two-dimensional drafting is the most common type, where users draw floor plans and production schematics from different projections to create a usable drawing. Three-dimensional parametric solid-modeling programs are also popular. These programs work by having the user enter in the type of solid they wish to create (such as cube or sphere) then enter parameters such as the length of a side or arc.
CAD and drafting software allows the user to do more than just draw objects. The programs also have dimensioning features that allow the user to insert dimension lines that automatically show the correct size of a drawing object. Tables allow the user to put schedules (such as what kind of windows are installed when) or materials lists (such as what types of metal are used and where they are ordered from) in the drawing for field workers to use.
Those looking to get into the field of computer-aided drafting and drawing have a number of options. Many community and city trade colleges offer programs in CAD, as do vocational high schools and private four-year technology colleges. At least two years of training is normally required to enter the field as a junior drafter. The more diversified your education in the field, the greater are your prospects for future employment.