CAD designers are information technology specialists who use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create technical designs and drawings which are then used to produce a variety of components that are utilized across many different industries. The drawings created by CAD designers are usually either printed out or saved on computers, or they can be programmed directly into various automated manufacturing systems.
CAD designers typically create detail and assembly drawings, layouts, diagrams, and sketches to be used in the manufacturing process, they check dimensions and materials to be used in production, and they revise various production drawings. They make both rough layouts and final sketches of proposed drawings, and apply their knowledge of engineering best practices, various types of machinery, building materials, and production processes to complete drawings and draw finished designs from rough sketches.
CAD designers must have excellent drafting and mechanical drafting skills, as well as an advanced knowledge of computer science, engineering, and design techniques and standards. They must have an aptitude for mechanics and a good understanding of engineering terminology.
CAD designers must have an advanced knowledge of computer-aided design tools like AutoCAD, SolidWorks CAD and Autodesk Inventor, as well as of the specific tools and techniques used in the industries in which they are employed.
Strong communication and teamwork skills are essential, as CAD designers typically work as part of larger project teams and must be able to understand and pass on project details, and to collaborate with engineers and other team members.
CAD designers must have formal training in graphic design, art, or a related discipline. Some employers will only consider candidates with a four-year degree, but academic qualifications, while they may increase chances of employment , are generally not a requirement for most jobs in the field. Depending on the employer and nature of the assignment, some CAD design jobs can require several years of work experience in certain industries or using specific design and drafting tools.
CAD designers typically use computers equipped with digitizing graphics tablets and computer-aided design software from one of the major CAD software companies, which include Autodesk, Siemens PLM Software, Dassault Systèmes, and the Parametric Technology Corporation. They are responsible for creating drawings that include product dimensions, materials to be used in making the product, and an outline of the steps in the production process.
CAD designers can specialize in a number of different areas, ranging from architectural CAD design to electronic and aeronautical CAD design. Depending on their area of specialty, these professionals can create designs to be used as blueprints for the production of electronic components and devices, missiles and aircraft specifications, or building materials and structures among other things. They are also responsible for creating, organizing and updating a file system for production drawings, for converting various production drawings to different file systems, and for communicating with the engineering, tooling, manufacturing and quality assurance teams to discuss revisions of production drawings. CAD design specialists typically work 40-hour weeks and report to CAD supervisors, engineering managers, senior engineers, or project managers.
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