Computer-aided design (CAD) is the use of computer systems to assist in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design. CAD software is used to increase the productivity of the designer, improve the quality of design, improve communications through documentation, and to create a database for manufacturing. CAD output is often in the form of electronic files for print, machining, or other manufacturing operations.
Computer-aided design is used in many fields. Its use in electronic design is known as Electronic Design Automation, or EDA. In mechanical design, it is also known as computer-aided drafting (CAD) or computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), which describes the process of creating a technical drawing with the use of computer software.
CAD software for mechanical design uses either vector based graphics to depict the objects of traditional drafting, or may also produce raster graphics showing the overall appearance of designed objects. However, it involves more than just shapes. As in the manual drafting of technical and engineering drawings, the output of CAD must convey information, such as materials, processes, dimensions, and tolerances, according to application-specific conventions.
CAD may be used to design curves and figures in two-dimensional (2D) space; or curves, surfaces, and solids in three-dimensional (3D) space.