Computer-aided design (CAD)

Computer-aided design (CAD) is the use of computer software to create detailed designs and technical drawings for products, buildings and other objects.

CAD is used extensively in many environments and increasingly used in the production and support of an idea, model or prototype. The software allows designers and engineers, for example, to create precise 2D and 3D representations of their ideas, making it a vital element of planning, design and build. It has revolutionised the design process by streamlining prototyping, increasing accuracy and is a highly useful collaboration tool.

CAD is not just about designing. It promotes the principles of collaborative work and knowledge-sharing in the built environment. CAD has gained a lot of attention due to BIM, 3D printing and the increase in construction projects around the world. Yet it’s still seen as a relatively specialised skill – and is one that is highly beneficial to individuals and organisations.

CAD has an important role to play in the climate change agenda. Using CAD as a tool with ever evolving technology gives many opportunities to improve the way that we plan designs for the future. 

From the very initial design stages, CAD can be used to consider the planning of energy use, life cycle management and distinct project stages so that sustainable energy use can be maximised. Longer term plans and challenges can be thought about and highlighted and integrated into the design.

Furthermore, the opportunity to plan, test, observe and repeat can really be used through CAD. Inputting different integrations of designs and seeing the results through CAD gives vast opportunities to plan differently and more efficiently and scenario-test to far greater degrees.

Beginning with an overview of the terrain, this section discusses qualifications and training appropriate to CAD, as well as recent developments in the field.

This section is maintained by Rachel Moan, a Chartered Management Consultancy Surveyor at Cheshire West and Chester Council.