Computer-aided design (CAD)

Competency Group: Mechanical Engineering

Type: Software

Description: Computer-aided design (CAD), is the use of computer technology for the process of design and design-documentation. CAD software, or environments, provides the user with input-tools for the purpose of streamlining design processes; drafting, documentation, and manufacturing processes. CAD output is often in the form of electronic files for print or machining operations. The development of CAD-based software is in direct correlation with the processes it seeks to economize; industry-based software (construction, manufacturing, etc.) typically uses vector-based (linear) environments whereas graphic-based software utilizes raster-based (pixelated) environments. CAD environments often involve more than just shapes. As in the manual drafting of technical and engineering drawings, the output of CAD must convey information, such as materials, processes, dimensions, and tolerances, according to application-specific conventions. For example: Piping designs for a house.

Citation for Description: Computer-aided design. (2011). Retrieved from Wikipedia,

Advantages: CAD is now an industry standard. Makes the storage and retrieval of projects much easier.

Limitations: Relatively sharp learning curve and can be expensive.

Regulations: CAD standards. (2012). Retrieved from Wikipedia,

Target Audience: Engineering, R&D, Production, Legal

Relevant to Universal Design: Yes

Stages and Steps: 5.1, 5.4, 6.2, 6.4

Free Resource: Freebyte. (2011). Free Mechanical Engineering CAD Software. Retrieved from

Free Resource: Duggal, V. (2001). CADD Primer — A General Guide to Computer Aided Design & Drafting — CADD, CAD. Retrieved from

Purchase Resource: The Architecture Room. (n.d.). CAD Links. Retrieved from