Computer aided design (CAD) has become the industry standard in presenting 3D design concepts and 2D technical working drawings, including floor plans, elevations, sections and mechanical drawings. The benefits of CAD are numerous, from increasing worker productivity and creating higher quality designs to simplifying how to communicate and share these designs.
With rapid developments in technology and savvy clients who have high expectations for their projects, it has never been more important to have a CAD program that can deliver a quality outcome. The difference may be between converting your customer and losing their interest.
With so many programs on the market however, it can be a minefield when trying to select a program that will best suit you, your business and your clients. There is no ‘one size fits all’ software solution, and what may be the perfect choice for one designer may not be for another, so it pays to do your own research.
Find your purpose
Any CAD program is producing an output of 2D views and 3D models or in some cases more extensive requirements, including 4D, 5D and so on. This information may be used as a communication tool between the designer, the client, trades and manufacturing.
The type of work you do as well as your business model will determine your main purpose in using a CAD system. As a designer, it may primarily be as a sales or communication tool, to convey an artistic impression; as a builder, it may form part of a contract; and for a manufacturer, it may deliver an integrated CAD/CAM (computer aided manufacturing) solution to streamline the production through an automated process.
Before you start researching programs you need to have identified exactly what you need the program to do and what you need to achieve with it. Do you need a concept design for clients, working drawings for a cabinet maker, production requirements for a builder and trades or any other combination? This checklist can then be aligned to program capabilities in order to evaluate your needs against a CAD solution.