You are on page 1of 9

CAD system

A CAD system is the combination of design-enabling hardware and software that generally consists of:

one or more computer terminals with a networking system and a large amount of memory high quality graphics video monitors interactive graphics-input devices (i.e. light pen, digitizing tablet, mouse, touchpad) software (such as SDRC I-DEAS, AutoCAD, TurboCAD, Iron CAD, ACAD, AutoSketch) specialized printer

All CAD systems support:

design handling and retrieving (data structures) interactive groups

application oriented algorithms

Computer Aided Design (CAD) has been around since the early 1960s to facilitate the design of objects through computers. It is an extensive field thats nestled in the spectrum of Automated Methods (see fig.1) and often associated with other fields in this spectrum, such as CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) or CAE (Computer Aided Engineering).

The definition of CAD is "the integration of computer science methods and engineering sciences in a computer-based system, providing a database, a program library, and a communication subsystem (Barr)." In less complicated terms, CAD is the process of design with the support of a CAD system. Thus, in order to understand CAD, we must first delve into the process of design.

The design process differs depending on the product, companys or organizations size, and on the type of design. Obviously, there will be a difference in process between designing a bicycle based on previous models for a private company and designing a completely new and original blueprint of a nuclear power plant for the government. Below are the bare basics of the design process: 1. Conceptualization stage (product planning) - sketch the ideas to guide the design; outcome is the preliminary/conceptual model 2. Preliminary design - break down the conceptual model into smaller parts/components and calculate their size and proportions 3. Analysis of the design model - execute a number of tests to understand the behavior and properties of the design under realistic working conditions; large amounts of numerical computations are usually needed in this step. Feasible tests may be on the product lifetime, cost of production, thermal effects, etc.

4. Evaluation of the designs performance - based on the results of step (3), make sure there are no violations in product requirements 5. Modification of the design model to improve its performance (if any violations occur) 6. Repetition of steps (4) and (5), until optimum performance is obtained 7. Last minute detailed design of the various components and subsystems 8. Production of the detailed drawings for construction or manufacturing

Computer Aided Design comes into play when the designer uses computers as the primary tool to carry out the above eight steps, as opposed to pen and paper: 1. In the first step of design process, the conceptualization stage, the designer can enter the ideas into a computer. The CAD program will then transform the data into a computer model. The computer not only stores the data at this stage, but also responds to it by guiding the designer on how to better his/her ideas through access of its vast knowledge base. 2. During the second step, the designer can once again make use of the large databases of previous designs, standard codes of practices, handbooks, and other resources to help him in his decision making. The computer keeps track of design dependency (if one value is changed, then all the other values that depend on it are automatically changed accordingly), making the manipulation of size and proportionality much quicker and easier. 3. In the analysis stage, the computer can easily run the tests and numerical computations. 4. The computer then evaluates the results from these tests with the designer to... 5. figure out what improvements can be made on the model. 6. Steps four and five are repeated until optimum performance is obtained 7. Once again, the large stores of databases and knowledge based programs come into play. These stores of information and the computers advanced graphic capability aid the designer in the process of detailed design. 8. A plotter carries out the last step, printing the finished drafts. In CAD/CAM systems, the design data can be stored in special machine-controlled tapes and disks in digitized form. Machine tools can then read these tapes/disks and manufacture the product designed.

Hopefully, you now know how computers come into play with the design process. The next step to grasping the concept of CAD is learning its pros and cons. The biggest and most important advantage of CAD is:

increase in productivity

Other important benefits are:

reduction of design time and mistakes ability to store large amounts of information enabling designs analysis in various angles, sizes, and cross-sections (an object can be sliced to reveal its internal structure) capability to easily manipulate the design decrease in expenses better design quality ability to handle more complex designs flexibility

The disadvantages listed below can be alleviated with lots of experience and a good working knowledge of a programming language such as C and Pascal:

rules for the design must be written as algorithms computers, unlike humans, need all information to be represented in a formal way (which raises the question of whether all design specification and knowledge can be completely formalized). a computer can only carry out systematic reasoning (which is limited to the programs stored). It has no creative skills, imagination, or judgement to generate ideas like the designer. only sequential input is possible on a computer, unlike a designer who can simultaneously input information received through his eyes, ears, and other sensory organs. much programming work is needed to properly store and organize information a computer has no capability of intuitive analysis, only numerical analysis

Because of its advantages and disadvantages, the design process is sometimes best

implemented with a combination of manual design and CAD supported design. This combination of design is known as full-custom design. An example of a product that is usually designed in this fashion is the microprocessor chip.

CAD can be used in almost all fields of engineering. Three major engineering fields that rely heavily on CAD are:

electrical architectural mechanical

Please visit GICL's Design Repository for a global digital library of Computer-Aided Design Data from Mechanical Design, Architecture, and Electronics domains.

Electrical engineering
The first application of CAD was in the electronics industry. With the increasing complexity of electronic devices, computers have become imperative in electrical design. Integrated circuits (ICs) are a good example of this developed dependency on CAD. Each integrated circuit used to have less then thirty transistors and a thousand geometries (geometric patterns). Now, these numbers have risen drastically. With over one million transistors and ten million geometries per IC, the conventional method of design is no longer an option.


Electrical designs "present a mathematically indeterminate problem" (Hamdi). There is no single optimum design, but several different ways to solve the design problem. With the advent of CAD, electrical engineers have a quick and easy access to alternate designs. Another function that CAD programs offer is validating the circuits and the accuracy of the design. If, for instance, an attempt to design a bistable circuit is made, the CAD program will check that the values attributed to the various components will produce the desired circuit. Faulty permanent magnet design used to pose as a big threat to electrical engineers because it resulted in partial demagnetization, but because of CADs ability to verify the reasonability of the design, it's no longer a problem. Other basic advantages offered by CAD in electrical engineering are

providing an understandable representation of the numerical results (usually through graphs and other graphic devices) greatly reducing the tediousness of remembering and solving common equations Ability to use simple numerical methods to solve complex problems in a few minutes testing done on the design (such as the maximum value of load resistance the design

can support).

Approaches to CAD

There are two basic approaches to designing electrical machines with CAD: 1. analysis method 2. synthesis method

Analysis method

In the analysis method, information such as the dimension, the material being used, and type of construction involved are inputted into the computer. With this information, the computer can run several tests and calculations on the characteristics of the design. After analyzing the results, the design is altered and the steps are repeated until the specifications are met. Synthesis method The only difference between the analysis method and the synthesis method is the initial step. The synthesis method assumes that the CAD software includes the design procedure and a data library filled with information on various materials. The initial design (which, many times, is produced by the CAD system) is written in the computer program as statements.

Finite element method Just as architecture is visually oriented, electrical engineering has its stronghold in numerical analysis. The most popular numerical method since the introduction of CAD in electrical engineering is the finite element method. The finite element method is one of the most powerful methods used to solve large-scale complex electromagnetic field problems through simple data structures. Based on Hooles Computer-Aided Analysis and Design of Electromagnetic Devices, the steps taken in the finite element method are 1. Division of the field region into finite elements or sub-domains 2. Specification of trial functions 3. Identification of an optimality standard 4. Solution of a set of linear equations The finite element method included in the electrical engineering CAD packages allows the

analysis of different geometries and operating conditions through a simple data structure instead of having to construct a time-consuming physical model. With a finite element model, the engineer can certify, with a high accuracy, important design criteria such as

flux linkages induced voltages core losses winding inductance developed electromagnetic torque

The finite element method also easily yields to automation. (For more information on the finite element method, go to the mechanical section.)


Numerical models are a major part of the electrical engineering design process, but the importance of graphical models should not be overlooked. After all the computations are completed, the information must be presented in a form that is easy to interpret and analyze. Graphs and other graphic devices are the obvious and best solutions. Automation can also help avoid some arduous operations. It is much simpler and quicker to indicate with a graphic pen the part of the device where a reading (such as its flux density) is wanted instead of having to first find the coordinates for that location. Although all the electrical devices are three dimensional, they are often designed (for convenience) in two dimensions and, less frequently, in one dimension. Not all designs are reduced in dimensions though. In some cases, it is necessary to view the electrical device in 3D in order to keep the accuracy of the design.


The very nature of Architectural Design requires an innumerable number of drafts to be created for the purpose of aiding the creative process and presentation to the clients. CAD software made for Architects can perform these conventional tasks more efficiently. They can also

enable perspective views to be integrated into the drafts allow the architect to tackle more complex problems give a competitive edge (many clients look for CAD abilities when hiring an architect.)

With its introduction, CAD quickly moved up in status from being desirable to becoming required in the field of Architecture. click here for an example of a building designed with the support of CAD

Capabilities of architecture-based CAD systems CAD has matured so quickly in importance mainly due to the communication it brings. Architectural CAD systems often allow files produced from different systems to be read into the same model, enabling compatibility between the software used by the architect and the contractor. The architectural CAD system that creates the visual model of the edifice contains the related databases needed by the other specialists involved, thus putting the architects in charge of the buildings creation. Most importantly, CAD creates a bridge between the architect and the client by giving the clients the power to participate in the design process. The clients do not need a lot of architectural knowledge to fully understand the CAD-rendered models that

offer multiple viewpoints contain several relative position shots are complete with the internal organization (such as the placement of furniture to phones) of the building often include animation, enabling the client to take a virtual tour of the building inside and out.

As technology continues to strive forward, Virtual Reality is increasingly becoming more involved in architecture-based CAD programs. Since its introduction in the late 1980s, architecture and CAD have played a major role in virtual reality. Around 1995, Matsushita Electronic Industries produced a virtual house with its bases in CAD. Since then, a number of projects that incorporated virtual reality with CAD began to grow.