Computer Aided Design : Past, Present, Future

All the products, we use or ride from cell phones, automobiles to planes and so much more, have been created using the advantages of CAD/CAM software.

The History of CAD closely parallels to the “History of the Computer,”. Previously, Pencil and paper was the primary way of drafting and to create designs.

The idea of CAD has grown from simple 2D designs into complex, multi-layered 3D structures with kinematic-movement and detailed meta-data.

60 years ago in 1957, the “Father of CAD,” Dr. Patrick Hanratty created the first numerical control system, PRONTO which would later become Computer Aided Design or CAD. The precision, versatility, and edit-ability of CAD designs revolutionized the engineering, architecture and manufacturing landscape completely. 

The 1960s brought the development of the first digitizer and DAC-1, it was the first production interactive graphics manufacturing system. By the end of the decade, a number of companies were founded to commercialize the CAD programs.

By the 1970s, research had moved from 2D to 3D design, The 1970s started with simple 2D CAD software programs but research and commercial interest was in 3D CAD software. It was rapidly gaining momentum become one of the most influential pieces of research of the decade in complex 3D surface modelling for CAD software.

The decade of the 1980s was the most significant period regarding the evolution of the CAD industry. In 1980’s UNIX workstations emerges as commercial CAD systems like CATIA. In 1981, The first IBM PC was evolved that enables the large-scale adoption of CAD.

In 1983, A group of programmers formed Autodesk released AutoCAD, the first significant CAD program for the IBM PC. AutoCAD marked a huge milestone in the evolution of CAD which increases the efficiency and decreases the cost upto 80%.

In 1995, SolidWorks was released. It was the first significant solid modeler for Windows.


At present, CAD/CAM continues its steady path of progress. Much of the progress is in the form of refining past innovations to make them more efficient and user friendly.

CAD/CAE/CAM systems are now widely accepted and used throughout the industry. 3D modeling has become a normal, and it can be found even in applications for the wider public, like 3D buildings modelling in Google Maps, 3D “walk-throughs” of house furnishing or garden planning etc..

With the integration of both CAD and CAM, it is now possible for manufacturers to increase productivity and reduce time. Material tracking traces records of material intake and storage throughout the entire manufacturing process.

CAM software can guide the manufacturing of a product throughout the entire assembly process right to the point where it is ready to be shipped out and delivered.


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Future of CAD,

Cloud based system is the future of CAD. Designing in the cloud means cloud-based file storage by default. Anyone can grab the most recent design information anywhere, anytime. Cloud system can eliminate the need for powerful computers and making CAD more accessible in general.

The ability to combine CAD/CAM, with finite-element analysis and the accessibility of simulation and knowledge management, has yet to be fully evaluated. Possibly, these areas in which the next CAD/CAM breakthrough will occur.

In near future, the use of Artificial Intelligence and Automation will necessarily improve the work output and prevent 3D modelling problems efficiently.

CAD programs are now used not only by designers, but also engineers, researchers, surgeons, and many other professionals. That is why software makers are continuously changing and improving features and enabling its usability for various industries.