For decades, technology has played a key role in advancing the manufacturing industry. Today’s manufacturing processes are cleaner, more efficient, and more accurate than ever due to the use of automated systems and programming. Computer-aided design (CAD) has a lot to do with manufacturing’s recent evolution—and the exciting job market within it.
What is Computer-Aided Design?
Computer-aided design, commonly known as CAD, is a manufacturing process that allows us to digitally create 2D drawings or 3D models of future products. CAD helps designers and engineers visualize a product’s construction, before fabricating it.
As its name implies, CAD involves the use of computers to develop, modify, and optimize designs. This method has replaced what were once manual design and drafting processes. Today, manufacturers can utilize computer-aided design to create more detailed, accurate, and efficient representations of products. This has led to enhanced quality in manufactured goods and streamlined planning of them.
What is CAD Software?
CAD software is the technology used for computer-aided design. CAD software is used by designers and engineers to develop 2D drawings and 3D models of products they aim to create. CAD software makes it possible for these professionals to also modify and optimize designs easily and intelligently.
Engineers and designers can use CAD software to create designs in layers, before bringing them together to formalize a complete design. This allows them to think about both the outer and inner workings of a product, and to design each component or layer with careful thought and attention. CAD software systems also allow for greater accuracy in designs, and provide reliable documentation that is stored throughout the entire process.
What is amazing about modern CAD software is that it is not just used for the initial drafting and design. It can also let designers know how various materials interact with one another, and therefore whether a design will work. Further, some advanced CAD systems can simulate stress tests on 3D models, allowing engineers to evaluate the structural integrity and performance of a product before bringing it to market.
Most CAD software today is cloud-based, meaning that the designs are accessible anywhere, from the manufacturing lab to the development site. Entire production teams can access design plans and modifications easily, streamlining the manufacturing process.
How is CAD Beneficial to Modern Manufacturing?
Computer-aided design has changed manufacturing as we know it. It has streamlined the design of products, as well as contributed to higher-quality goods. Further, CAD has enabled manufacturing teams to collaborate and communicate on designs more easily.
Today, computer-aided design (and specifically CAD software) is utilized across a wide variety of industries and fields, including:
- Electrical engineering
- Industrial engineering
- Structural engineering
- Interior design
- Automotive design
- HVAC or plumbing design
- Medical and dental device manufacturing
Manufacturing is an essential component of these industries, and as a result, CAD has played a significant role in improving and advancing each sector. Because of computer-aided design, more advanced and high-tech careers are also available to aspiring manufacturing professionals.
Specializing in Computer-Aided Design
If you have a passion for design and engineering, or simply desire a cutting-edge and creative career, CAD is an emerging field to consider. As described above, computer-aided design has carved the path towards some exciting careers, including (but not limited to):
- Mechanical and electrical engineering
- Computer programming
- CAD drafting and design
- Graphic design
- Game testing
- Video game design
- Interior design and urban design
- Architectural technology
- And more!
No matter which field you pursue, computer-aided design offers something exciting and innovative—different than your usual expectations for a manufacturing job. CAD designers and drafters help develop a range of goods and concepts, from everyday products like stereo systems and washing machines, to larger projects like airplanes and apartment complexes. There are three, typical titles for CAD careers:
- CAD Designers: In this field, designers typically specialize in an area (such as architecture or manufacturing) and develop the designs that will be used to create concepts or products.
- CAD Drafters: These professionals are responsible for taking the plans created by designers, and turning them into drawings using industry software. Manufacturers then use these drawings to bring a product or idea to fruition.
- CAD Engineers: CAD engineers, unlike drafters and designers, usually need a bachelor’s degree. These engineers use their CAD software skills to design structures, technical drawings, and products in their specialty area.
One advantage of pursuing a career in computer-aided design and drafting is that it does not require a four-year degree right away. As you can see, it’s possible to land a career in computer-aided design with just some postsecondary education and training under your belt.
This is typically done through a CAD certificate program.
What is a CAD Certificate?
A computer-aided design (CAD) certificate is a postsecondary award provided to individuals who have received specialized training in this field of study. Although CAD certificate programs are not required for all jobs, they are highly recommended for individuals looking to break into this field. Those who have completed training and certification in CAD software will be better positioned for competitive careers.
This is because of the practical experience offered in a CAD certificate program. In Goodwin’s training program, for example, students gain hands-on practice, designing 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional parts using industry software like Solidworks, Mastercam, and PC-DMIS. Students develop detailed design and drawing skills, produce blueprints, and learn about the functional relationships between components, assemblies, systems, and machines—all in a matter of months.
Goodwin’s CAD certificate program can be completed full-time or part-time, with just four classes required for graduation. This means you can invest a short amount of time in your education to reap great reward upon completion. CAD drafters and designers have the potential to earn over $60,000 per year – or more – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Are you interested in specializing in computer-aided design? Learn about the CAD training program at Goodwin University as a way to launch your career.