What is CAD?
CAD stands for Computer-aided Design, referring to the use of computers to aid the design process. People use CAD to represent 3D models of real-life objects or ideas. CAD is also a useful step to manufacture the 3D models.
Capabilities of CAD
CAD is closely tied with manufacturing solutions like 3D-printing and CNC-ing. In order to 3D-print or CNC, you must give the printer a 3D design file. By knowing how to CAD and with access to a 3D-printer or CNC, you can turn an idea, into a 3D design file, into a physical object very quickly. We use many manufactured parts on our robot.
Many separate parts make up our competition robot and CAD allows us to visualize organized 3D designs with many parts working together.
Allows for Quick Design Cycles
While we were designing our own 3D printed face shield frames for our Face Shield Initiative, there was a lot of fine tuning of the design. CAD made this cycle of revisions easy, as we could simply copy our old face shield design and and make the necessary tweaks, like increasing the width of the frame to fit different head sizes. Then, we would send the designs to our 3D printers, and within hours, we had a face shield frame we could put on. While designing the face shields, we went through 5 face shield frame design cycles in one day.
Many, Many, Many Real World Applications
Using computers to aid design cycles could be applied to practically everything. The device you are reading this on would never exist without CAD, as it was designed meticulously by engineers. Modern bridges and skyscrapers are CAD-ed and some softwares are even smart enough to simulate loads, like cars on a bridge, to test the optimal shape of structures, how much weight it can carry, and weak points in the design. CAD is and will continue to be the driving force of innovation for years and years.