This report will give an outline of a lecture
given at the University of Bolton on 13th November 2017, on the use
of computer aided design, or CAD as it is more commonly known. The report will delve
a little further into the history of CAD and how it has developed over the years.
After a brief history the report will move on to how CAD has improved the
prospects in an engineering capacity and how it affects and can influence many
other areas of engineering. This report will look at how CAD has changed the
way engineers develop products and whether or not CAD has a future in the world
What is computer
In basic terms, it is
a computer technology program that not only designs the product but also
documents all of the design’s process for future reference. With the ability to
produce 2D and 3D images that can be manipulated by rotating, flipping and even
looking at cross section or inside. Pair this with solid modeling and engineers
can see how a product will look fit and work when a finished item is created.
When an engineer is asked today about CAD
their initial response may be AutoCAD or Solid works. However not many will
know that the roots of modern day computer aided design go as far back as the
1950s, and the father of CAD and CAM (computer aided manufacturing), Dr.
Patrick J. Hanratty, who in 1957 developed Pronto which was the first
commercially available program and followed on from the US air forces use of
SAGE (Semi Automatic Ground Environment) which displayed
information received from computer processed radar (Bozdoc, 2006).
Computer aided design continued to grow and
delvelop in the years that followed, with more varying systems being made
available to the public and the ground breaking transition from 2D to 3D in 1977
when Dassault developed CATIA for the use in the aerospace industry.
forward to 1995 and SolidWorks 95 is realesed along with Solid Edge V1.
Engineers could now use just a single computer for both office and CAD
applications. Come the turn of the century the world of computer aided design
went from strength to strength with engineers being able to not only design the
products, but also be allowed to share the designs in an instant with
colleagues, manufacturers, distributors and purchasers. (A more detailed
timeline can be found in Appendix 1)
The advancements in CAD have given engineers
the ability to create detailed 3D models of products, everything from dental
implants to a highly engineered formula one race car.
Computer aided design has quickly become a
staple of the engineering process, leading to vast savings in not only
financial aspects of business but also in man hours, testing processes and
manufacturing time. With the growing use of programs such as Solidworks in
secondary schools, and the case study carried out by Loughborough University on
how best to integrate CAD into the primary school curriculum, the future is
looking bright for the world of CAD (Barlex, 2008). See appendix 2
During the foundation year for an engineering
degree, it can be seen very early on that computer aided design is going to
play a huge part in many of the job opportunities available in the engineering
sector. Right from lecture one when orthographic drawing is introduced, the
students get a taste of where CAD started and how it has changed processes. The
further a student continues into studies the more apparent and indeed important
CAD becomes. Some Universities in the United
States are even doing away with classes in free hand drawing due to the accessibility
of CAD (anon, 2018).
Computer aided design in engineering
From the very start of a project, an engineer will employ CAD to make a start on sketching ideas and criticizing
them to work out what the best solution is for the problem, they are tasked. This
process is quick and easy, and thus eliminates producing new blueprints for every
version update of an idea and instead simply redesigns the program. The program
can also help understand the designs, picking out flaws, errors or inconsistencies
the engineer may have overlooked. The engineer might also use the system in order
to fault diagnose an already existing product.
of the most useful functions of AutoCAD is its ability to provide a graphic
simulation of how a constructed machine will function. Once a design prototype
is complete in the software, AutoCAD can generate a simulated version of the
prototype and show it in action. This is a function impossible for the
mechanical engineer to otherwise reproduce without investing the time and
resources in developing a real-life prototype. With the help of this
simulation, mechanical engineers can determine if the machine will work as
intended and make any necessary tweaks or fixes before it goes into production.
Assurance and Control
to the analysis components of AutoCAD, mechanical engineers can simulate a
variety of environments and stresses upon a prototype. This allows them to
determine the functionality of a part or machine in extreme environments or
under high-stress conditions difficult to test outside simulation. These
simulations also provide a demonstration of a prototype’s expected performance
over time, allowing accurate estimates to be made on a machine’s functional
life span before requiring maintenance or replacement. AutoCAD allows
mechanical engineers to produce useful specifications and give clients exactly
what they need in an efficient time frame.