The advent of CAD software has revolutionised the way designers work in a number of different fields. These days it’s almost unheard of for a professional architect or civil engineer to work entirely by hand but CAD software can have practical applications across all areas of design.

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So what is CAD?

CAD stands for computer-aided design and broadly refers to any computer programme or system that assists in the creation, modification or optimisation of a design. Within that broad definition there are many different types of software available, from 2D CAD used to create flat drawings of products to professional 3D CAD that can be used to model every dimensional aspect of a design.

Industry-specific CAD packages can be even more specialised, allowing a designer to calculate physical properties of designs such as load-bearing capacities and tensile strengths.

Would my small business benefit from the implementation of quality CAD software?

The answer to the above question, of course, depends almost entirely on the nature of your business. If you import dog chews or deliver courses on motivational speaking, the usefulness of a high-end 3D CAD suite is likely to be limited. On the other hand, almost any business that involves the design and production of a physical product could potentially benefit from this software.

One of the major benefits of using CAD is that it can save on design time and, therefore, money. Using CAD does not negate the need for skilled human designers but it can help those designers more fully explore and actualise their vision.

Virtual designs can be easily edited or modified, without your designers having to throw out a paper draft or an actual physical model and start again from scratch. This can enhance the willingness to try new things, leading to greater levels of invention and creativity in the design process.

If you want to try CAD software without breaking the bank, download Free Solidworks Draftsight from NT CADCAM and give it a go. This is a 2D CAD product, meaning it won’t be suitable for every project. It is however, a professional-grade CAD product that allows you to create, edit and view DWG files (the native format for several popular CAD packages) in Windows, Mac or Linux.

It also comes with a free “Getting Started Guide” which can help you to explore the potential benefits CAD could bring to your business.

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Written by Lucy Collins

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