What is AutoCAD and what is it used for?


The arrival of AutoCAD completely changed the design industry and ushered in a new era of design practices that relied primarily on computers. Designers used to have to spend days meticulously drafting and measuring each line.

But AutoCAD changed all that. Rather than relying on pen and paper, designers can focus more on the design itself rather than the excessive footwork involved in creating a design. AutoCAD allows designers to focus more on idea generation and instead automate the execution process.

In this article, we’ll discuss what AutoCAD is, what it does, who uses it, and the impact it’s had on the design industry.

What is AutoCAD?

Simply put, AutoCAD is a computer-aided design program (hence the name “CAD”). It was developed by Autodesk, a company that mainly produces software and solutions for industries like architecture, engineering, product design, manufacturing, construction and more.

AutoCAD allows designers to efficiently create and edit 2D and 3D designs and digital images. Instead of having to edit images by hand, AutoCAD makes design editing much easier.

Essentially, AutoCAD lets designers create geometric models on screen, providing endless permutations for creating different types of objects and structures. This flexibility has made AutoCAD an industry leader because it can be deployed for use in almost any industry or application.

Why use AutoCAD?

AutoCAD was primarily developed for 2D designs. Even today, many designers prefer AutoCAD for its excellent 2D design capabilities. However, Autodesk continued to introduce new features, and today AutoCAD also supports 3D design.

There are a variety of commands in AutoCAD that designers can use to create more accurate and precise designs, including features such as automatically centering lines or setting drawing dimensions to fixed proportions.

For 3D design, AutoCAD offers multiple views that allow designers to make more subtle changes and improvements. AutoCAD also saves design data that you can use later. It supports direct rendering to the cloud, cross-section drawings, and even provides realistic lighting in renderings.

What is AutoCAD used for?

AutoCAD is used in various industries. Although originally developed for use in the architecture and construction industries, it is now used in multiple industries and applications.

architectural design

Architects primarily use AutoCAD to create floor plans, blueprints, and building designs. Because these plans are to scale and generally very precise, AutoCAD makes it easy for architects to bring their vision to life without sacrificing dimensional accuracy.

AutoCAD also allows designers to review granular data about a building design, helping them identify design weaknesses and fix them before construction begins.

interior designers

AutoCAD is commonly used by interior designers who prefer to create 3D versions of their interior designs. AutoCAD enables interior designers to create realistic 3D models of spaces and includes support for solid, surface, and mesh models.

3D viewing and navigation tools are also available, supporting pan, walk, or scenic views, allowing interior designers to truly showcase their designs and present them the way they want.

AutoCAD also supports rendering, allowing designers to apply lighting and unique materials to give their 3D models a more realistic and stylish look. And cloud rendering is also supported, so there’s no need to own a powerful laptop that also supports 3D modeling software.

machine builders

Although AutoCAD was primarily designed for architects and designers, mechanical engineers also often use it to create visualizations to support their work. Mechanical engineers use AutoCAD to prepare specific models and plans for different products.

fashion designer

This may come as a surprise to some, but fashion designers also use AutoCAD. It is one of the best productivity tools for fashion designers, allowing them to prepare detailed sketches, patterns and designs more accurately.

In addition, fashion designers can also create different iterations of a single design, and since AutoCAD preserves the dimensions for future reference, designers can apply them to different materials and patterns.

The best features in AutoCAD

There are a variety of new features in AutoCAD that make it an excellent choice for designers. Autodesk has constantly released a number of new updates that introduce new features and improvements. Here are some of the best features in AutoCAD.

Mobile and web apps

Because it works in the cloud, AutoCAD allows users to work across devices, making it easy to create, edit, and view drawings from either the mobile app or their web app. This allows greater freedom and makes collaboration much easier, especially in distributed teams.

Faster and more efficient workflows

With AutoCAD, you can share controlled copies of your drawing with teammates so they can leave feedback. It supports markup, and there’s also a nifty My Insights feature that gives users helpful tips about their projects.

There is also a dedicated sheet set manager that allows users to quickly send and receive sheets through the Autodesk cloud platform.

Industry specific tools

AutoCAD has grown well beyond a design program used primarily by engineers and architects. The Autodesk Store gives you a variety of different industry-specific tools and plugins to choose from that you can use.

This includes tools designed to improve planning and productivity, as well as tools that help improve workflows and add much-needed capabilities to the core AutoCAD experience.

This is how AutoCAD works

Like most design programs, AutoCAD works with layers and vector images. While you might be tempted to draw comparisons to Illustrator or Photoshop, AutoCAD was designed solely for creating textures and designs.

The native file type is DWG, which stores images, geometric data, and design information. You can also add blocks, which are essentially building blocks, from a separate library.

Blocks range from simple furniture types to more complex designs like wooden structures or stairs. Most designers generally prefer using blocks as it saves time. Special thematic libraries are available, which designers often use to create their designs.

For nearly four decades, AutoCAD has been at the forefront of the design industry. Although a number of free CAD software programs are available today, AutoCAD is still the preferred choice for industrial design and architecture.

Despite being an expensive choice, AutoCAD is preferred by many for its cloud platform, flexibility, and the diverse range of features it offers.

Person using a 3D design software on a computer.

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