3D CAD: Computer Aided Design
CAD, or Computer-aided Design, is the use of computer software to assist in the creation, manipulation, analysis, or optimization of a design.
Computer-aided design, or more commonly referred to as CAD, is used to generate virtual 2D or 3D models. 2D CAD designs are generally for technical engineering/architecture, while 3D models are typically either used for digital applications such as animation or for manufacturing/prototyping processes like 3D printing.
3D CAD Software Applications
CAD modelling is used in an enormous variety of industries. While mainly used for detailed engineering of 3D models or 2D drawings, there are also CAD programs designed specifically for the development of models used in animation and photorealistic rendering! The correct CAD software for you depends upon your application. Check out the links below for examples of available 3D CAD software package and helpful tutorials on how to use them!
For animations (video games and films):
(free software): read our 3D Print with Blender
(free software): read our 3D Print with Sculptris
ZBrush (free 45 day trial)
3DS MAX (free 30 day trial)
For mechanical design (industrial and mechanical engineering):
(free 30 days trial): read our 3D Print with Inventor
(free trial): read our 3D Print with SolidWorks
: read our 3D Print with Catia
(free trial): read our 3D Print with SpaceClaim
If you work in architecture (architecture and structural engineering):
For Industrial Design (concept and product design):
free 90 day trial): read our 3D Print with Rhinoceros
(free 30 day trial): read our 3
D Print with Alias
Specifically for 3D Printing (STL handling):
free download): read our 3D Print with M
(not yet available)
If you're looking for software that is best for developing models
for 3D printing, we suggest trying the CAD modelling software
aimed at mechanical or industrial design!
3D CAD Modeling Methods
Each of the above 3D CAD programs utilizes a different method for modeling. Learn more about the types of 3D CAD modelling below!
1. Parametric Modelling: a type of solid modelling that uses 2D sketches to create features and objects that are modifiable with a feature history tree. Features are located and manipulated using geometric and functional relationships with other sketches, features and objects.
2. Direct Modelling: like parametric modelling, direct modeling uses sketches to create 3D features based on relationships with existing geometry. However, there is no history tree, and the original sketch is absorbed into the feature and future edits are made on the resulting geometry.
Another type of modelling that relies on surfaces to generate geometry. Surface modelling can be both parametric (based on geometric and functional relationships) or freeform. Freeform surface modelling is used to manipulate the surface of the model similar to how someone would model with clay. Check out our entries on Sculptris and MeshMixer to learn more about freeform surface modelling!
This is a growing area of modelling where geometry is generated autonomously based on conditions set in place by the designer. To read more about how this works, check out our entry on Autodesk's Deamcatcher . This type of modelling is excellent for 3D printing as it can be used to generate 3D structures that can't be manufactured through any other means.
Prepare for 3D printing!
CAD modelling is the best way to start designing yourself! Visit our Gallery to see some of the most popular Sculpteo 3D models and find some inspiration! If you're having trouble with your 3D model, check out our webpage on how to repair your file and our eBook on how to fix your 3D files.
Is your 3D file ready? If so, upload it and see how Sculpteo can work for you!