Designing is the process of converting an idea into an object, product or a system. This process is iterative. CAD (Computer Aided Design) is a tool that can be used for design and drafting activities. Since it uses the computing power of a processor, CAD drawings are faster, better and more accurate than their manually drafted counterparts.
AutoCAD is sophisticated CAD software that is synonymous with engineering drafting. The concept of AutoCAD evolved way back in the 1980’s, when engineers and architects were seeking to harness the power of newly introduced personal computers to reduce the drafting time. People began experimenting with internal graphic controllers which allowed them to draw engineering / architectural drawings at the front end which were efficiently replicated at the back end of the computer. AutoCAD was formally launched in December 1982 by Autodesk, a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. Simply put, AutoCAD enables engineers, designers and architects to produce 2D and 3D models using computers. AutoCAD started as a design tool for engineers and architects, but is now used by other professionals as well. Autodesk, the company behind AutoCAD, has developed custom versions that can be used by design engineers, civil engineers, electrical and electronics engineers and mechanical engineers. AutoCAD thus covers a vast canvas – from engineering to industrial sector, there is an AutoCAD package for everyone. In that sense, AutoCAD is a horizontal product. It is used by product development teams, manufacturing facilities, media and entertainment industries, engineers, architects; educators and students; entrepreneurs, non-profits, medical professionals, and including beginners. AutoCAD is thus useful for any domain that requires 2D and 3D designs.
Features of AutoCAD
When we say ‘features’, we do not mean the commands offered by AutoCAD in the context of this article. Instead, we highlight the differences between AutoCAD and other CAD software that make AutoCAD a popular drafting tool.
Powerful Drafting: Built primarily as a drafting tool, AutoCAD offers unparalleled drafting capabilities.
Analyze Object Details: The features included in AutoCAD allow in depth analysis and visualization of 2D and 3D models.
Plug-ins: Since AutoCAD is extremely popular, there is a huge number of plug-ins that are available which make the software more useful and friendly.
Integration: AutoCAD allows API integration with spreadsheets, document editors and other utilities. This is extremely useful when sharing the output of the software.
Training Options: Since AutoCAD is very popular, there are training institutes that teach the software from beginner level to the advanced level.
Place in Industry
While there are other CAD systems (like CATIA, Ansys, etc.) available today, AutoCAD occupies a special place in the market. It was the first successful commercial CAD software to be introduced in the market in 1982 that was PC based. Today, it has grown to be the industry leader in the suite of CAD software, with millions of customers in more than 150 countries. It still has a lion’s share in the CAD market, despite the competition offered by CATIA, Ansys, etc. With its various versions – apart from the standard architectural and engineering drafting fields – AutoCAD also finds use in a varied number of industries like fashion designing, 3D printing and as an industrial designing tool.
Versions and Platforms
AutoCAD comes in many flavours and on various platforms. The first version (V 1.0) of AutoCAD was released in December 1982; the latest Windows version (as of April 2018) is AutoCAD 2019, released on March 2018.
AutoCAD for Mac was first launched in June 1992; the latest version (as of April 2018) is AutoCAD 2017 (called as Naboo).
In addition, AutoCAD also has mobile versions for both Android and Apple phones. As far as price is concerned, AutoCAD comes in two packages – AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. AutoCAD LT is a slightly stripped version of AutoCAD, the most prominent limitation being the ability to manipulate 3D objects. If you are mostly into 2D designs, you can easily make do with AutoCAD LT rather than the full version.
AutoCAD can also be classified depending on the domain it serves. Currently, different versions of AutoCAD support the following domains:
- Electrical design
- Map 3D
- Mechanical design
- MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing)
- Plant 3D, including P&ID functionality
- Raster design
AutoCAD is a vast software that offers something for everyone. From 1982 onward, each subsequent version of AutoCAD has added features that make it versatile software. The exponential increase in processor power – both for personal computers and mobile devices – has allowed AutoDesk to offer increasingly sophisticated features. For anyone who wants to learn CAD, AutoCAD is a good foundation as many concepts and commands introduced by AutoCAD are utilized by other systems. A few of the AutoCAD features have in fact become industry standard. As an example, the .DXF format introduced by Autodesk has been universally accepted as the standard for CAD file conversion between systems.
Training in AutoCAD offers students and professionals a number of advantages. One, because AutoCAD is the most widely used CAD software, using it gives one a great probability of being able to share CAD files and related data and information with others. Two, AutoCAD provides you with broad capabilities in the CAD domain that offers flexibility in experimenting and utilizing latest technological advancements. Three, if you train in AutoCAD from a reputed institute, your prospects of securing a job in the CAD industry are very high.
In India especially, the scope for students and professionals who have had training in AutoCAD is very bright. CAD software is increasingly being used in more and more industrial domains apart from mechanical and civil/architectural. Not only in first rung cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune but even in smaller places like Satara and other places, the demand for training in CAD is on the rise. With mechanical and civil engineering jobs on the rise in India, the prospects for a bright career in CAD are good indeed. As mentioned earlier, AutoCAD is the market leader in the CAD domain, and it will pay rich dividends if you increase your skills by learning it in-depth. There are many reputed CAD training institutes in cities like Hyderabad, Pune, Bengaluru and Satara that will teach you AutoCAD irrespective of whether you are a novice or a professional so that you get a competitive edge in the CAD field.