Computer-aided design

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Computer-aided design (CAD) is the process of using software to take an idea in your head and create a digital model of it. The step immediately following CAD is Computer-aided manufacturing. There are primarily two types of CAD: 2-Dimensional and 3_Dimensional. However, researchers are currently looking at the practical uses of 4-Dimensional CAD by using Virtual Reality.

In addition to software, there are some hardware devices that can be purchased to assist users in design, such as graphic tablets. These devices emphasize the artistic aspect of design and are not necessary for the CAD that is usually used in the Design and Build Lab. However, users of the space are more than welcome to bring their own.

List of CAD software

Type Machine Software
2D PCB Mill Autodesk EAGLE
2D PCB Mill / Laser cutter / Vinyl Cutter Inkscape
3D 3D Printer Autodesk Fusion 360

Autodesk Inventor
Autodesk Maya
TinkerCAD
3DS Max
Blender

It is important to do some light research on what software may be best for you. For example, if you plan to create a very simple shape and know nothing about 3D CAD, TinkerCAD is the software you want to use. If you would like to create a more complicated shape and do not mind investing an hour or two learning the software, Fusion 360 is likely your best bet. If you would like to create a device with moving parts and be able to test its mobility in the software, Inventor is likely going to be helpful. And for character creation, animation, or simulation (stuff not always meant to printed), then Blender, Maya, and 3DS Max will be helpful. There are also other options not listed here, but be aware that using those software options in the Design and Build Lab means that none of the staff on hand will be able to properly assist you if needed.