How CAD is Used in the Design Process

CAD is used in the design process to detail engineering of 3D models or 2D drawings of physical components. CAD is also used in the engineering process from conceptual design and layout of products, through strength and dynamic analysis of assemblies to definition of manufacturing methods of components.


Why 3D CAD Models are Used in the Design Process

With globalization has come the requirement for product manufacturers to respond to the ever-changing needs of consumers faster, better, and cheaper.  These demands shorten product life cycles and increase the need for new models, customizations, advanced technologies, and more.

3D CAD Models

It’s been proven that companies that respond to these consumer demands are more innovative, more successful, and more profitable than those who don’t.

One way in which manufacturers keep one step ahead of the competition is by concurrent engineering – the process of engineering and manufacturing being enabled simultaneously from shared 3D CAD data. 3D CAD models can be used as virtual prototypes, eliminating the time-consuming requirements for multiple physical prototypes until the engineering is “right”.

Types of 3D models:

  • 3D wireframe, while not often used today, is worth mentioning simply because the approach to 3D wireframe is similar to that used in 2D CAD systems. Those familiar with 2D CAD will understand these concepts: (1) each line has to be manually inserted into the drawing; (2) the final product has no mass properties associated with it; (3) the final product cannot have features added directly to it. The wireframe model is used to make the final engineering drawing views.
  • 3D “dumb” solids, also not often used today, are created in ways similar to manipulations of real-world objects. Basic three-dimensional geometric forms, such as prisms, cylinders, spheres, etc., have solid volumes added or subtracted from them as if assembling or cutting real-world objects.  These models allow for easy two-dimensional projected views to be generated. Basic 3D solids don’t usually include tools to easily allow motion of components, set limits to their motion, or identify interference between components.
  • 3D parametric solid modeling requires the operator to use what is referred to as “design intent”. Design intent simply means that the purpose of the design is taken into account when creating the model. How the design will be used dictates the relationship between features in parts and parts assemblies.  If a feature is intended to be located from the center of the part, the CAD technician needs to locate it from the center of the model, just as it will be in real life. This is very different from “dumb” models, where the feature could be located from some more convenient area in the 3D drawing, so it would “look” correct, but, not, in fact, represent the real world.

Parametric solids require the operator to consider the consequences of his actions carefully because the objects and features created are adjustable.  And just as in real life, moving a feature even a fraction of an inch may adversely affect other features, depending on how the original part was designed.

Parametric 3D solid modeling provides a virtual image of the design that can be rotated, manipulated, retrieved and modified at any time.

Benefits of 3D Modeling

  • Higher quality finished product
  • Lower unit cost
  • Identification and elimination of inefficiencies
  • Increased workload capacity
  • Better control of production
  • Improved communication and collaboration
  • Increased manufacturing accuracy
  • More design flexibility
  • Better design integrity

Up to Date Approach

For many manufacturing companies, the combination of 3D modeling and CAD outsourcing brings a cost-effective approach to their processes.  By outsourcing the 3D CAD modeling, manufacturers get accurate 3D models, while keeping their focus on manufacturing rather than modeling.

Outsourcing to a CAD services company like us offers many advantages – including less infrastructure, greater competitive edge, less cost, the leverage of expert help, reliability, and security. That is why 3D CAD model outsourcing is becoming increasingly common among forward-thinking manufacturers today.


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