CAD organization and applications

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Computing developments have made a rapid and immense impact on industry and commerce and as the degree of complexity has also increased, then training facilities have expanded accordingly. As a source of information and communication, the Technical Press and the Internet play a very important part. Journals from professional institutions offer impartial news, advice and guidance, opinions, and new product details. Manufacturers and the larger suppliers of CAD equipment have set up centres around the country where exhibitions and demonstrations are organized. Higher education establishments, private organizations and dealerships also give specialist courses for the benefit of students and users.

The mainstream engineering software programs have been written and developed in the United States and the UK. To perform complex tasks, additional programming may need to be seamlessly integrated so that they work in harmony as a unit.

There are literally hundreds of specialist applications available. Banks, Building Societies, Airlines, all have their own systems and via the Internet, can freely communicate with each other. This fact has also given rise to another branch of industrial development, i.e. security.

Screen sizes have increased in size and the availability of the flat screen has reduced the size of workspace required by users.

The provision of multi-layers provides a very useful method of working on CAD. Imagine transparent sheets placed on top of each other, which may be shuffled and rearranged so that you can draw on the top. Each of the layers underneath in the pile can be turned on or off, they may be given identification colours and selected parts of drawings moved from layer to layer if required. Assume that we want to draw plans for a house. Layer 1 could be used to draw a plan view of the building plot. Layout work is often easier if graph paper is used. On layer 2 we make our own construction grid, which is transparent graph paper with squares to any convenient scale of our choice. Using this grid under layer 3 we design a suitable ground floor layout. Copying the position of the outside walls from layer 3 and modified as required could start layer 4 showing the first floor layout. When all of the required plans and elevations are constructed, they can be repositioned on a drawing arrangement. If necessary, the site layout reduced to a smaller scale. When completed, the construction grid may be deleted. Tracing facilities and the ability to print layers together or apart are a valuable draughting asset.

The physical equipment components of a computer system are known as the hardware. The programs and data used on the computer are defined as the software.

Another advantage of CAD is its ability to store line systems and other entities, which are frequently used on drawings. For example, software containing symbols to British, European and other International Standards is freely available for most engineering applications. The draughtsman can also create libraries of regularly used parts.

For repetitive use on a drawing, a typical item may be retrieved and positioned in seconds, also oriented at any angle to suit particular circumstances.

As a drawing aid, every CAD program must provide basic geometric features, permitting the operator to blend lines and arcs etc. It is necessary in engineering drawing to be able to determine points of tangency between straight lines and curves and between curves of different radii.

Productivity is much improved by a program enabling you to easily draw polygons, ellipses, multiple parallel lines and multiple parallel curves. The speed of machine drawing is increased by the use of automatic fillets and chamfers. Layout work benefits when use is made of construction grids and the computer's ability to 'snap' automatically to particular geometric points and features, will speed the accurate positioning of line work. Copy, rotate and mirror facilities give assistance when drawing symmetrical parts. Automatic cross-hatching within closed boundaries is useful in the construction of sectional views and when indicating adjacent parts and different materials. Many changes of hatch patterns are supplied with CAD programs. Filling areas in various colours is a requirement in artwork.

The ability to zoom in and out is an asset when drawing to scale. It is possible to work on fine detail in an assembly and then zoom out to observe the result in context.

CAD information is stored in digital form and hence, irrespective of the size of the final printed drawing; it is possible to accurately dimension components automatically.

Different 'type-set' and alternative style fonts are always supplied with CAD programs. If a special font is required to match an existing style then specialist vendors can supply. Alphabets in different languages present no problem. Quite clearly the physically largest affordable screen has many advantages. If the draughtsman is also involved with desktop publishing, it is ideal to be able to work on a screen that displays two A4 paper sheets side by side so that 'what you see is what you get'. The screen should give high resolution, necessary to provide an image that is flicker free. The quality of the display will have a big contribution to make in the avoidance of fatigue and eyestrain. Firsthand practical experience and a demonstration is important here for an ideal solution.

Plotting and printing equipment will vary according to drawing office requirements. It is true, however, that many CAD installations are judged by the quality of their plotted drawings. It is necessary to also have a demonstration and this will ensure that an excellent CAD system will have an output to do it justice.

A wide variety of plotters are available for reproductions from A4 to AO in size, and in a quality suitable for production work or the most prestigious presentations.

Probably the best-known software in the Drawing Office is that from AutoCAD, who build products that conform to the most widely used DWG format permitting the transfer of information between networks.

In the 1970s, 2D drawing packages were introduced with the ability to slowly draw lines, circles and text. Rapid developments have taken place since with a vast increase in computing power. The computer industry has expanded, progressed and now produces software for an ever increasing number of engineering applications. Computing power is vital for the operation of highly sophisticated research projects, advanced design and modelling programs. Communication developments have had a profound effect regarding the methods that we use for our current solutions. We have the capability to transmit files of drawings and notes from the computer screen for use by collaborative partners, and the Internet can transmit information around the world in seconds.

Solid models suitably animated can also be viewed in 3D to clarify detail and this can be a considerable asset where perhaps there is a change of language. User manuals for domestic equipment are commonly drawn in solid modelling programs to illustrate sequences of assembly and improve clarity for nontechnical customers.

A very important part of work in the drawing office is dealing and handling revisions and modifications. It is possible to link drawings so that if you update the master, linked drawings are updated automatically. Modifications use quite a large proportion of drawing office time.

Immediate transmission to all members of an associated group has considerable advantages. Examples here are recall notices for car owners and faulty items in domestic appliances.

There are many examples where various component parts are manufactured in different countries and brought together for assembly and testing. The aircraft industry is a typical case.

Drawings are reproduced in many sizes and small items present little difficulty with zoom facilities. Views drawn to different scales and a variety of orientations can be arranged on the same drawing print as an aid to comprehension. Windows giving an overall view of your drawing for fast zooming and panning are also of value.

Autodesk, Inc. is the world's leading producer of CAD visualization and animation software for personal computers and workstations. Courses in AutoCAD® programs are taught in many educational establishments, and since 1987 certified national courses of study by the City and Guilds of London Institute have been conducted throughout the country. Authorized training centres cater for the needs of local industry and for those who wish to develop their CAD skills further.

Autodesk® has been at the forefront of applying standards within the computer aided design environment.

The main professional program AutoCAD 2002 is very much a non-specific or generic CAD tool and many applications are available to the basic graphics package, which enhance its suitability for a particular discipline.

Full specifications for these products can be found on the Web by visiting http://www/

The AutoCAD Applications Handbook, which is a CAD User Publication, lists many hundreds of software packages which can be used to maximize productivity in association with AutoCAD.

AutoCAD 2002 is the technology platform, which facilitates communication and collaboration between team members involved in design projects, also, clients, suppliers and vendors.

Typical projects could involve solutions involving building design, communication, and government utilities land development and manufacturing industries. It can also download design data from the Internet, allow you to automatically publish design data on the Web, host online meetings, drag and drop content from manufacturers websites into your drawings and much more. It delivers higher levels of productivity through unmatched performance and simplicity.

Work on multiple drawings can be undertaken.

As an example of the flexibility and range of typical projects about 40 typical case histories are given on the Company website.

Below are listed some products either from Autodesk or others which integrate directly with Autodesk products. This ensures compatibility throughout the design process, from conception, through design, testing and manufacturing.

Autodesk, the Autodesk logo, and AutoCAD are registered trademarks of Autodesk, Inc. in the USA and/or other countries.

AutoCAD Mechanical is a purpose built 2D mechanical design solution providing an ideal platform for production drawing and detailing.

Additional useful add-on programs are available for analysis and manufacturing solutions from MSC and Pathtrace, as well as document management solutions from Cyco.

Autodesk Inventor Series. For integrated 2D design and detailing, 3D assembly, parametric design and the capability to produce complex 3D surface models, Inventor Series 5 gives you the following compatible programs.

The series includes Autodesk Inventor 5.3, Autodesk® Mechanical Desktop 6, AutoCAD Mechanical 6 and AutoCAD 2002. You get all of these technologies in one easy-to-use package giving you flexibility to use what you want when you want. No need to choose between 2D and 3D.

Suitable for Sheet Metal Design, 3D Modelling and Automatic Detailing, DWG file compatibility and extensive parts library.

This is a combination package of Autodesk Mechanical Desktop and Autodesk Inventor software.

Architectural Desktop 2004 is a program optimized for building design using AutoCAD 2002. A flexible display system used to manage and create plans, elevations, sections and 3D views. Designed with an automatic scheduling feature and links to VIZ4.

Building design information can be shared with the rest of the project team. Designs in 3D assist in coordination and approval with clients.

Autodesk VIZ 4 is a software program for design conceptualization and visualization, which combines modelling, texturing, and rendering features to create stunning visual presentations and walkthroughs.

The program quickly and simply generates 3D models and has a comprehensive library of materials and textures.

VIZ 4 will link to AutoCAD 2002 and the Design 2000 family of products: Architectural Desktop, Land Development Desktop and Mechanical Desktop.

Piranesi is a three dimensional paint program, which enables architects, artists and designers to produce high quality stylized artwork from 3D models. The initial 3D model is produced as normal in an existing CAD and/or visualization system. Unlike conventional 2D paint programs, Piranesi paint tools enable you to use colours, tints and textures (a brick pattern say) straight onto selected parts of an image, without overpainting other objects. It can be used by itself to produce artwork from AutoCAD models directly, but it really comes into its own when used as a post-processor for VIZ.

NavisWorks is a software program which can navigate and view models of extreme size and allow all design data to be brought together into one. This facility enables faults to be detected early during project development rather than on site after construction begins.

The program automatically locates and highlights areas of the model where parts interfere or clash with each other. This 'Clash Detective' function can quickly analyse the model and then dim everything except the clash detail. Faults are easily communicated to others in the design team.

A wide range of companies, contractors and designers can work on a single project without having to get together in the same place at the same time. This obviously reduces hidden project costs.

NavisWorks files are generated directly from within AutoCAD.

An optional feature provides easy to apply, 'near real' textured materials for improved visualization.

Autodesk Raster Design 3. Scanned paper drawings, aerial photos, satellite imagery and maps can be integrated into the computer system and edited raster data converted to vector. Vectorization Tools with Smart Correct technology create lines, polylines, circles, arcs, text and rectangles. Intersecting raster geometry can be preserved when raster entities are moved or erased. The program can read and write georeferenced images to and from the Web. Raster design can help you gain more value from existing archive drawings and possibly avoid time-consuming redrafts.

AutoCAD LT 2004 contains powerful 2D and basic 3D geometry creation, editing, display and plotting options and uses the AutoCAD dWg file format so interchange of existing files presents no problem if the program is upgraded to the main professional program AutoCAD 2002.

For many CAD users AutoCAD is too comprehensive, advanced and expensive for their needs and in cases where the draughtsman is mainly responsible for layout work and design work, which does not involve sophisticated modelling and rendering, then this program is well worth considering. The current price is less than £500.

The ability to draw and to use the drawing, or part of the drawing, in a word processor document will be much appreciated. The software has a familiar feel as it uses the Windows interface, so if you have used pull-down menus, dialogue boxes and the drag and drop simplicity of Windows; you will soon master the basics since the Help feature provides an on-line guided learning assistance tour. The 2D draughting content is identical with that of the early Release 12 of AutoCAD. The toolbox and toolbar can easily be customized and arranged to suit your own preferences and style of working. The system will also accommodate a selection of symbol files.

AutoSketch. A typical starter CAD program is AutoSketch which is easy both to learn and to use. It is a low cost package, ideal for anyone who wants to use a computer to sketch or draw without investing in a full-scale system.

Drawings are created by choosing drawing and editing commands from pull down menus. Drawings, patterns and fonts are represented by simple symbols, or icons. You can draw on multiple layers and look at them in any combination. Repetitive drawing is eliminated: you can use previously created drawings to build libraries of frequently used symbols, saving time.

Having drawn an object you can move, copy, rotate, mirror, stretch and erase it until it matches your needs. You can group components together and treat them as one, and break them apart for editing. The UNDO command permits drawing changes, or to change back again, use REDO. Expanded memory support allows you to work with large drawings. Part clipping allows you to select items from existing drawing files and use them in others. Text and notes can easily be added or edited on the drawing using a variety of fonts. The drawing features include line options, arcs, ellipses, circles, points, pattern fill areas, spline curves and polylines with variable line width. Automatic fillets and chamfers are possible, and the program also offers zoom and pan facilities.

The program allows you to export drawings directly into AutoCAD, and a wide selection of desktop publishing packages.

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