Computer Aided Design

Computer Aided Design or CAD is software engineers and designers use to convert your sketches and Ideas into data that can be used to produce a robust product. This tool is the link between a successful product and an Idea. Have you ever heard the joke, “What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?....A stick!" Anyway, a product idea without CAD is just an idea, not a product.

I entered the design business when 3D CAD software was widely available and used in industry. Although I had a few drafting classes in college, the idea of drawing by hand was primarily on its way out. Most product design engineers prefer working with a 3D format because of the depth of options available.

Pro Engineer and Solidworks are my primary 3D design tools, although I have used SDRC Ideas and AutoCAD. As a contract Designer, I am expected to work with my customers using their existing software. When working for Inventors, I use Pro-E or Solidworks, so that regardless of what they decide to do, their files will transfer and be useful.

CAD offers many uses for inventors of consumer products or machinery. Among them is the capability of producing 3D files that can be used to have Rapid Prototyping, tooling, and analysis done. I often build assemblies that are fully functional on the computer, so that all the parts are created with proper fit and function. These files may be used to market the product to investors (virtual Prototyping), or to make changes that assure accuracy. If obtaining a Patent, there is a huge advantage to having 3D files. Claiming features and functions is much easier when cross sections and detailed views are available.

What should you do? I would suggest that you find a design group or an individual experienced with 3D CAD, so that you can have your idea converted to useful engineering data. For do-it-yourselfers, learning a design software to produce your own CAD file would probably require more cost and time than hiring someone for this service. If you are starting your own company the investment may be worth it, especially if you are making a family of products that have many components per product, such as lawn mowers.

More information on how Computer Aided Design can benefit your invention will be posted in the pages below. Good Luck!

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