Design accuracy and efficiency

CAD permits reviewing a design quickly and permits ease in accomplishing the design evaluation. Design accuracy can be checked using automated tolerancing and dimensioning routines to reduce the possibility of error. Layering is a technique that allows the designer to superimpose images upon one another. This can be quite useful during the evaluative stage of the design process by allowing the designer to check the dimensions of a final design visually against the dimensions of stages of the design's proposed fabricator, ensuring that sufficient material is present in preliminary stages for the correct fabrication.

CAD permits checking on interference potential problems. This procedure involves making sure that no two parts of a design occupy the same space at the same time. Automated drafting capabilities in CAD systems facilitate the design presentation, which is the final stage of the design process. CAD data, stored in computer memory, can be sent to a pen plotter or other hard-copy device to produce a detailed drawing quickly and easily In the early days of CAD, this feature was the primary rationale for investing in a CAD system.

Drafting conventions, including but not limited to dimensioning, crosshatching, scaling of the design, and enlarged views of parts or other design areas, can be included automatically in nearly all CAD systems. Detail and assembly drawings, bills of materials, and cross-sectioned views of design products are also automated and simplified through CAD. In addition, most systems are capable of presenting as many as six views of the design automatically. Drafting standards defined by a company can be programmed into the system such that all final drafts will comply with the standard.

Documentation of the design is also simplified using CAD. Product data management (PDM) has become an important application associated with CAD. PDM allows companies to make CAD data available interdepartmentally on a computer network. This approach holds significant advantages over conventional data management. PDM is not simply a database holding CAD data as a library for interested users. PDM systems offer increased data management efficiency through a clientserver relationship among individual computers and a networked server.

Benefits exist when implementing a PDM system. It provides faster retrieval of CAD files through keyword searches and other search features; automated distribution of designs to management, manufacturing engineers, and shop-floor workers for design review; record keeping functions that provide a history of design changes; and data security functions limiting access levels to design files. PDM facilitates the exchange of information characteristic of the emerging workplace. As companies face increased pressure to provide clients with customized solutions to their individual needs, PDM systems allow an increased level of teamwork among personnel at all levels of product design and manufacturing, cutting the costs often associated with information lag and rework.

Although CAD has made the design process less tedious and more efficient than traditional methods, the fundamental design process in general remains unchanged. As reviewed it still requires human input and ingenuity to initiate and proceed through the many iterations of the process. Nevertheless, CAD is such a powerful, timesaving design tool that it is now difficult to function in a competitive engineering world without such a system in place.

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