How technologically savvy is your business? Computer-aided design (CAD) isn’t anything new, but it has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade or so. What was once the software of engineers is now used by all types of designers to create more accurate models and reduce costs. Today’s businesses can speed up processes and eliminate much of the waste of hand-drawn designs by utilizing the many advantages of CAD in business.
CAD is used typically for design and drafting, but as more and more businesses see the benefits of using computers to aid in designs, people find that there are multiple uses for the technology. Manufacturing has seen an increase in the implementation of CAD with CAM in designs. There are pros and cons to using CAD, but here are some clear advantages of CAD for business.
1. Reduce Costs
One of the main advantages of CAD lies in reduced costs. Take the process of product design, for example. A computer-rendered design allows designers to test out the product and how it works and even combines with a 3D printer to create a prototype at a reduced cost. The product is thoroughly tested, reducing the overall cost of trying different concepts and coming up with the perfect design. The software also offers the ability to test the item in a computer-based environment and show the model to clients.
CAD reduces costs in raw material used, parts programming and production labor. The cost of CAD software varies, depending on how many features you need. No longer can you simply buy AutoCAD and use the software in perpetuity. Instead, the company now sells subscriptions, which are an ongoing cost. For example, a monthly subscription runs about $195, while a three-year subscription costs $4,252.50, which translates to just over $118 per month.
You really start to save money if you have a number of users and take out a multi-user license. You’ll need to contact a reseller to find out what options are available for multiple users and your company size. Figure out how much of a subscription you need and can afford, and choose the option that offers you the best savings at a rate you can afford today.
2. Encourage Creativity
Using CAD over manual drafting encourages more creativity. Designers test out various ideas and see what works and what doesn’t in real time. There isn’t as much wasted time this way, as changes are easier with a digital copy than a manual copy. Encouraging creativity is one of the things that allows your business to stand out from the competition.
Studies show that using CAD encourages creativity in a number of different ways. Some of the creative behaviors studied included novelty, motivation, flexibility and insightfulness. Overall, those using CAD showed higher levels across nearly every category.
3. Speed up Processes
One of the biggest advantages of CAD over manual drafting is that processes are sped up. Since it’s easier to make changes to a design, modifications are simpler. No longer do clients have to wait days for a designer to rework a draft. With CAD, the designer simply makes the changes on the computer and zips a file over to the client. Files can be shared globally as well, meaning you can work with a client across the ocean as easily as with a client next door.
What if you make a change at a client’s request, and then they decide they like the previous version better? Fortunately, CAD saves different versions of the design. You simply pull up the version the client liked best. You can still make modifications to that design while keeping the original intact. It’s estimated that using CAD in conjunction with CNC machine tools increases productivity by as much as 50 percent.
4. Gain Better Security
Perhaps you create rather sensitive designs and are worried about someone walking off with a print copy. Corporate sabotage is a real thing, and various companies have been known to implant spies in a corporation to steal plans and rush to market first. With CAD, you can put security features in place that limit access to the files and who can see them.
Protect files from hackers too. There’s another level to this type of security outside of preventing theft, though, and that’s keeping people from making changes to the design without permission. Sometimes another employee makes a change inadvertently, thinking they’re in a different project file. By limiting who can make changes, you can prevent this scenario. Another of the advantages of CAD is that digital files can be secured more easily than paper files.
5. Learn CAD Easily
For those with a background in design, learning CAD is pretty simple. The software is intuitive, and most engineers and designers pick it up quickly. For those who have trouble picking it up, there are numerous free online courses, YouTube video tutorials and online guides. If your design department has not yet used CAD, don’t let the learning curve hold you back, as it’s negligible.
CAD software can be linked to CAM machines, so you can send designs directly to create objects based on the drawings. No longer will your designers have to wait on prototypes, and this feature alone may be enticing enough to encourage them to learn how to use the software.
6. Draw More Accurately
Drawing in CAD is much more accurate than drawing by hand. When drafting manually, you have to carefully measure and remeasure as you draw by hand. Unfortunately, measurements may be a bit off. With CAD, you can align objects with each other through object snaps, giving you exact X and Y coordinates that are perfect every time. You can also set angles and distances and then choose polar tracking to snap to presets.
Improve the overall quality of the design. Changes won’t create errors in measurement, as preset guides are used to snap an object into place and ensure that measurements are exact. The software also allows designers to analyze the functionality of the design and how the finished product performs in different environments. Designers thus work more efficiently and complete more projects in the same amount of time.
The Advantages of CAD
Every year, new trends and design tools hit the market. CAD has been around for a while, but it’s used more and more as it integrates with computer aided manufacturing (CAM) and other processes. If your company isn’t already on the CAD boat, now is the time to climb aboard and take advantage of all the benefits.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.