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.
The most basic role of CAD is to define the geometry of design – a mechanical part, a product assembly, an architectural structure, an electronic circuit, a building layout, etc. The greatest benefits of CAD systems are that they can save considerable time and reduce errors caused by otherwise having to redefine the geometry of the design from scratch every time it is needed.
The part design work bench/mode is a parametric and feature-based environment in which you create solid models. The basic requirement for creating a solid model is a sketch.
The tools in the part design workbench can be used to convert the sketch into a feature. This workbench also provides other tools to apply the placed features, such as fillets, chamfers, and so on. These features are called the dress-up features. You can assign materials to the model in this workbench.
The components are brought together and assembled in the Assembly Design workbench by applying suitable parametric assembly constraints to them.
The assembly constraints allow you to restrict the degrees of freedom of the components at their respective work positions.
After creating parts and assembling them, you need to generate their drawing views. A 2D drawing is the life line of all the manufacturing systems because on the shop floor or tool room, a machinist mostly needs the 2D drawings for manufacturing. The Drafting workbench is a specialized environment for generating drawing views, modify, and apply dimensions and annotations to them.
The parametric dimensions added to the component in the part design workbench during its creation can also be generated and displayed automatically in the drawing views. The generative drafting is bidirectionally associative in nature. You can also generate the Bill of Material (BOM) and balloons in the drawing views.
The Sheet metal Design workbench/mode is used for the designing the sheet metal components. Generally, the solid models of the sheet metal components are created to generate the flat pattern of the sheet, study the design of the dies and punches, study the process plan for designing, and the tools needed for manufacturing the sheet metal components.
The component that has a thickness greater than zero and less than 12 mm is called a sheet metal component. It is easy to create components by using manufacturing processes such as bending, stamping, and so on. It is not possible to machine such a thin component. After creating a sheet metal component, you need to flatten it in order to find the strip layout. Based on the layout detail, you can design punch and die.
The product and industrial designers give special importance to product styling and providing a unique shape to components. Generally, this is done to make the product look attractive and presentable. Most of the times, the product's shape is managed using the surface modelling techniques. Surface models are three-dimensional models with no thickness and do not have mass properties.
The Surface Design workbench is also a parametric and feature-based environment, and is used to create wireframe or surface models. The tools in this workbench are similar to those in the Part Design workbench with the only difference that the tools in this environment are used to create basic and advanced surfaces.
The Finite Element Analysis (FEA) has been widely implemented by automotive companies and is used by design engineers as a tool during the product development process. Design engineers analyze their own designs while they are still in the form of easily modifiable CAD models to allow for quick turnaround times and to ensure prompt implementation of analysis results in the design process. While FEA software is readily available, successful use of FEA as a design tool still requires an understanding of FEA basics, familiarity with FEA process and commonly used modelling techniques, as well as an appreciation of inherent errors and their effect on the quality of results. When used properly, the FEA becomes a tremendous productivity tool, helping design engineers reduce product development time and cost. Misapplication of FEA however, may lead to erroneous design decisions, which are very expensive to correct later in the design process.