What is the importance of construction software

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Not only the automotive industry benefits from CAD software, but also numerous other industries. In this article, we explain exactly what CAD software is, what it does and whether you will need CAD knowledge in your profession in the future.

Definition of CAD

The abbreviation CAD stands for "Computer-aided Design", that is, computer-aided design. In concrete terms, working with CAD software means that individual steps in the design process are no longer carried out manually, but are taken over by the computer. With the help of CAD software, steps from concept development to handover to the production department can be carried out directly on the computer. And that both in 2D, for example when creating a city map, and in 3D, such as when planning entire building complexes.

CAD as the standard in construction

CAD software has completely changed design over the past 30 years. The drawing board, on which a designer used to laboriously develop model drafts, and the technical draftsman who drew them in detail, are a thing of the past. CAD lecturer Ilja Nachtrodt explains: “While you used to go to a meeting with an idea on a piece of paper, jointly consider how an idea could be implemented, create an initial sketch and then pass this data on to the designer for implementation, today designers can Include the idea with the requirements of the component directly in the CAD system. A first proposal can then be presented and discussed in the meeting. Without computer-aided solutions, it would be almost impossible today to produce the required parts in the shortest possible time without risking multiple incorrect designs and thus wasting resources. "

There is now even a separate apprenticeship that illustrates the change. Since 2011, people in Germany have been able to train to become technical product designers. Construction and technical drawing are simplified across all sectors through the use of CAD software: in the automotive industry, in architecture, in aerospace or in mechanical engineering, but also in medium-sized companies such as B. joineries.

Advantages of a CAD software

Computer-aided design makes construction, be it that of cars, machines or buildings, significantly more efficient and less prone to errors. The main advantages of CAD are:

  • Time savings when creating drawings suitable for production: With CAD software, changes to a drawing can be changed and documented much faster (in accordance with DIN ISO 9001).
  • Error minimization: Errors in construction are minimized.
  • Cost savings: The entire process chain in construction runs significantly faster and therefore more cost-effectively thanks to the use of CAD software.
  • Lean Production: The realistic drafts allow leaner production because optimization potential is already recognized in the drawing and not just on the finished model.
  • Simple documentation: important dimensions, parts lists and construction data are recorded and documented directly on the PC.
  • Easier reusability: Proven best practices can be reused and further developed in the CAD system with little effort.

Disadvantages of CAD software

The advantages speak for themselves, as CAD software can significantly accelerate and improve the entire process chain in production. But if a company is interested in computer-aided design, it should also take a look at possible disadvantages beforehand. These are:

  • High investment costs: The hardware and the software for a full version of a CAD software for several employees is not cheap. Especially in large teams, several employees have access to the software and need a suitable CAD workstation. All of this causes high investment costs at the beginning of the changeover.
  • Intensive training: Employees who are working with CAD for the first time need a comprehensive introduction to the system and the CAD software used.
  • Further training costs: Employees must be trained regularly for software updates.
  • Maintenance costs: Although the costs drop significantly after the first introduction of a CAD system, you still have to factor in regular maintenance and updates.

Which CAD systems are there?

Which CAD system is the best? Is free CAD software enough or should it be paid? Which CAD system do I need as a private user if I want to create parts for the 3D printer, and which as a mechanical engineer? Expert Ilja Nachtrodt explains the most important difference between free CAD software and paid programs: “Free CAD programs have the advantage of an initially free license. You can take a look at the software and test it out. However, you cannot continue working with the data created with the test software after the test phase has ended. This is very annoying because you then have to start from scratch, even if the first projects have already been visualized with the program. When purchasing a full version that is subject to a fee, you usually have full access immediately and the full possibility of further processing. Free software is very suitable for practicing and trying out whether the requirements are met, both for CAD beginners and advanced professionals. "

There is a large selection among the CAD programs. Among the free programs you will find, for example, 3D Slash, Wings 3D, Fractal Lab, MakeHuman or Open SCAD. Well-known paid CAD software is Solidworks, Solid Edge, AutoCAD, Catia or Siemens NX.

Which CAD system should I use?

This selection of different CAD programs is just a tiny excerpt from the software available on the market. So if you're wondering which CAD program to choose, that's very understandable.

"Anyone interested in a CAD system should first clarify for what purpose they need it," advises Ilja Nachtrodt. “If the software is used in an architecture office, for example, it makes sense to choose a CAD system with the appropriate construction software. This contains tools and parts libraries with the most important components that an architect needs on a regular basis. A carpenter, on the other hand, works with different tools and should therefore opt for a different program. ”The selection of the right CAD system therefore depends very much on the respective industry.

First, answer these questions for yourself:

  • In which industry should the system be used?
  • Do I need a 2D or 3D CAD system for my job?
  • What are the requirements of participating companies such as suppliers, etc.?
  • What technical requirements does the CAD system need?
  • Do you need a full version of a CAD system or would you like to start with a test version first?

How do I learn CAD drawing?

As soon as you have decided on a CAD system, it is a matter of learning the functions quickly in order to be able to use the software as efficiently as possible. But how do you, as a beginner, learn to design with the CAD system, and how can you, as a company, train your employees more quickly in a new version so that the CAD program brings the desired process acceleration?

In order for you to be able to create your first CAD design, you need the relevant information and work practice. Use the following options, for example, to deepen basic CAD knowledge:

CAD software in practice

How does working with a CAD system work in practice? What are the steps between opening the software and the finished product or model? You first open your CAD program, design your desired project and can finally send this data to the milling machine, the lathe or even to the 3D printer using an interposed CAM program (computer-aided manufacturing). The respective machine then begins to work and manufactures the defined part or prints it out as a 3D model.

But what if someone has CAD software but no CAM with a corresponding machine? Lecturer Ilja Nachtrodt explains the following: “There are also online providers who, for example, take over 3D printing if you don't have a 3D printer yourself. In this case, the CAD user sends the processed data to the provider and receives the finished model from the 3D print. This solution is used by large companies through to private providers. "

Faster and more precise results thanks to CAD

Overall, CAD software makes working in design much easier and, according to expert Ilja Nachtrodt, it is impossible to imagine life without it: “Companies could never achieve just the speed at which today's designs have to be performed without CAD software.” Therefore, it is worthwhile All the more so to ask the right questions when selecting the software in order to find the really best program for the respective needs and ultimately to remain competitive. And for employees, a solid knowledge of one or more CAD software pays off, as it should significantly increase the chances in the application process.

After completing his training as a mechanical engineer, lecturer Ilja Nachtrodt worked for a long time as a project manager in construction and knows what is important in industrial design and dealing with 3D CAD solutions. Today he passes this knowledge and the joy of construction on to his participants as a lecturer.