Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Services Information


Computer-aided design (CAD) services assist in the computerized design, three-dimensional (3D) modeling, and printing and drafting of engineering components and assemblies. Computer-aided (CAD) services include specialized programs that help operators draw schematics for printed circuit boards (PCB), electronic or mechanical components, and systems for computer aided manufacturing (CAM). Some companies specialize in analog design or backplane design. Others specialize in 3D modeling.



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Computer-aided design services or CAD services are particularly useful in computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) applications. A computer aided manufacturing (CAM) system integrates computer-aided design drawings and schematics with the motion control component of an automated manufacturing machine. Computer-aided manufacturing software is used to sequence processes on a variety of machines, milling and turning equipment, integrated circuit design systems, and other mechanical engineering applications.




The software capability section distinguishes between the specialized types of computer-aided design software that a provider has available to execute a service. This is a function of purchased licenses or in-house developed software.




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Alibre Design 

Alibre designs are drawing file types, conforming to Alibre, Inc's software specification, which are supported by CAD service providers offering mechanical computer-aided design services. 


AutoCAD are drawing file types, conforming to 2D and 3D design software specifications from Autodesk, Inc.

Autodesk Inventor 

Autodesk Inventor provides drawing file types, which conform to Autodesk, Inc.'s 3D parametric solid modeling software specification.


CADKEY are drawing file types, conforming to Cadkey, Inc.'s software specification.


CATIA are drawing file types, conforming to Dassault Systemes' CAD/CAM/CAE multi-platform software specification.


IGES are drawing file types, conforming to a neutral data format allowing for digital exchange between various proprietary CAD systems.


NX are drawing file types, specified by Siemens' Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) CAD/CAM/CAE software and used in automotive, aerospace, and other industries.


Pro-ENGINEER are drawing file types, conforming to Parametric Technology Corporation's (PTC's) 3D CAD/CAM/CAE solid modeling software specification.

Solid Edge 

Solid Edge are drawing file types, specified by Siemens' Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) 3D CAD solid modeling software.


SolidWorks are drawing file types, specified by Dassault Systemes' 3D mechanical CAD software for Windows®.


T-FLEX CAD are drawing file types, specified by Russia's Top Systems company software, for 2D and 3D parasolid-based design. T-FLEX CAD file types are supported by CAD service providers. 


TopSolid are drawing file types, specified by Missler Software's 3D CAD/CAM software.


Capabilities can also include the provider’s software or licensing that is used. These include Thermal CAD, Molecular CAD, and Architectural CAD. To learn more about provider software visit here.


Selection of CAD Services


Proper selection of a CAD service requires an analysis of vendor capabilities. Many engineers and engineering firms use computer-aided design (CAD) services for prototyping and virtual testing of components. Sophisticated CAD services provide 3D modeling simulations to envision how disparate parts may work together or how they may perform under certain circumstances. A computer-aided design service bureau provides access to hardware and software that may be otherwise out of reach to a small engineering firm, such as rapid prototyping, 3D video and animation, and high-end 3D modeling.




An analysis of a provider’s services determines the types of computer-aided design activities offered to its clients.


CAD Services image

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3D Digitization 

3D digitization is an activity offered by CAD service providers that analyzes real-world objects or environments and collects data on their shape and appearance. Digital, three-dimensional models are useful in a variety of applications, and can then be constructed from the collected data. 

3D Printing 

3D printing is an activity offered by CAD service providers that generates real-world, three-dimensional objects from digital sources. 3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing that can be used to quickly generate prototypes or concept models for a demonstration purpose, or to create a finished product for immediate end-use. This technology is common in the jewelry, footwear, industrial design, architecture, automotive, aerospace, dental, and medical industries. 

Assembly Drawings 

Assembly drawings, or mechanical assembly drawings, are drawings detailing an engineering perspective view on a mechanism or physical, real-world built-object that is comprised of more than one part. Assembly drawings are useful to the mechanical designer and end-user in building, manufacturing, tearing-down, maintaining, and improving complex mechanical devices. A three-dimensional isometric assembly drawing view of Revell company's "Visible V-8" engine design is a common assembly drawing that many mechanical designers in the U.S. and abroad are familiar with.    

CAD Implementation Review 

Computer-aided design (CAD) implementation review is a service offered by CAD service providers for auditing an existing CAD software installation. The quality of a CAD software implementation for a given client has a direct impact on training costs, CAE/CAM/PLM integration costs, and downstream costs associated with changing work flow configurations.   

CAM/CNC Integration 

Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) / computer-numerically controlled (CNC) integration is a service offered by CAD service providers for joining a computer-aided design (CAD) package with production software and systems used to manufacture parts. 

Data Quality Assurance 

Data quality assurance is a service of CAD service providers that profiles computer-aided design (CAD) related data and databases to discover inconsistencies and other anomalies. As a result, data cleansing activities are often taken to improve the client's data quality. 


Detailing is a service offered by CAD service providers for adding further drawing information to existing drawings. The additional drawing detail is important to downstream personnel like machinists, toolmakers and welders, who are part of the drawing's production work flow. Drawing details are often added by designers, drafters, technicians, toolmakers, or other skilled CAD personnel, and may include tolerances, manufacturing methods, sourcing, traceability, installation direction, welding details, material details, form and fit details, hazardous material information, and mechanical assembly options. 

Drawing Conversion 

Drawing conversion, also known as digital exchange, is a service of CAD service providers for translating CAD files from one encoded digital format to another. An example would be conversion of an IGES neutral data format file into a file type more compatible with proprietary formats such as Parametric Technology Corporation's (PTC's) Pro-ENGINEER CAD software product. 

Dynamic Modeling 

Dynamic modeling is a service of CAD service providers for providing mechanical CAD (MCAD) models that are history-free. The models do not require the designer to maintain information about the building of the model and the expressions used to constrain associations, accelerating the process of drawing creation. 

Engineering Drawings 

Engineering drawings is a service of CAD service providers for production of technical drawings that define requirements for engineered items. Engineering drawings are usually made in accordance with standards for layout, nomenclature, interpretation, and appearance (for example, typefaces and line styles). Both the ASME and ISO standards organizations offer drawing standards, known as geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T). 

Failure Analysis 

Failure analysis, also known as root cause analysis (RCA), is a service of CAD service providers for determining the root cause(s) of a product or system failure, and for making suggestions on how to avoid the problem in future. 

Finite Element Analysis (FEA) 


Finite element analysis (FEA) is a computational mathematics service of CAD service providers for finding approximate solutions to partial differential equations (PDEs) and integral equations. An example use of FEA is analysis of automobile component behavior during a computer-simulated car crash, with the goal of improving car safety design.   Image Credit:

Part Design 

Part design is a service of CAD service providers that applies principles of mechanical and other engineering professions to the generation of new products. 

Product Definition 

Product definition is a service of a CAD service supplier for specifying, usually within an integrated product lifecycle management (PLM) system, a new product's details, including part number, suppliers, price, distributor discount levels, engineering drawing(s), etc. 

Reverse Engineering (RE) 

Reverse engineering (RE) is the process extrapolating the design elements of a device, object, or system through analysis of its structure, function, and operation. This often is accomplished through disassembly, physical measurement and observation, mechanical, electrical or software testing, or review of source code, while staying in compliance with applicable laws. 


Simulating, also known as computer simulation, is a service offered by CAD service providers for generating an abstract model of a system under study. It is used in a wide variety of industrial processes and is applied in conjunction with physical simulation systems to verify expected results. 

Solid Modeling 

Solid modeling is a service of CAD service providers for representing real-world 3D objects and their properties - material, color, etc. - in a useful digital form. Uses for solid modeling include engineering analysis, computer graphics, animation, rapid prototyping, medical testing, and technical visualizations. 


Stereolithography is a service of CAD service providers for producing physical models, prototypes, patterns, and - in a smaller number of instances - production parts. 

Stress Analysis 

Stress analysis is a service of CAD service providers for determining the amount of force exerted per unit area - often measured in units of pounds per square inch (PSI) or Pascals (Pa) - on a surface within a deformable body subject to internal forces. 3D CAD software supporting color gradients is often used as a tool to accomplish this activity, along with hand and computer calculations.   

Surface Modeling 

Surface modeling is a service of CAD service providers for creating aesthetic or functional surfaces for engineered components, including gas turbine blades and car outerbodies. Automobile outerbodies are known as Class A surfaces in the car manufacturing industry. 


Documentation Creation Services


CAD services can also work with clients on drafting documents for many other areas in a business. Some examples of these services are described below.



Documentation Creation Services


Bills of Material (BOM) 

Bills of material (BOMs) is a document service offered by CAD service providers for generation of specification lists of raw materials, sub-assemblies, sub-components, intermediate assemblies, components, part numbers, and the quantities needed to manufacture or assemble a final product. 

CAD Documentation 

Computer-aided design (CAD) documentation is a service offered by CAD service providers as a Product Data Management (PDM) work activity within a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) process. Revision control details, product manuals, online help, getting started guides, and tutorials are all examples of CAD Documentation. 


Cartography, also known as mapmaking or mapping, is a service offered by CAD service providers for producing geographic maps.   

Concept Drawings 

Concept drawing services are offered by CAD service providers for producing initial-idea digital models. The details may come from verbal, hardcopy, or digital sketch/scratchpad sources. Conceptual drawings are used for demonstration or proof-of-concept purposes, and usually are not released for production until a design review has been completed.   


Drafting, or CAD drafting, is a service offered by CAD service providers for preparation of technical drawings and plans in digital format. The drawings and plans are then used to build and manufacture products such as industrial machinery, aircraft, and structures including houses, offices, buildings, pipelines, refineries, and production plants. 

Electrical Drawings 

Electrical drawings are services of CAD service providers for production of drawings communicating information about power and communication. Electrical drawings are used for engineering or architectural projects, and may include plot plans, floor plans, power-riser diagrams, control wiring schematics, and schedules. 


Estimating is a project management service offered by CAD service providers for developing accurate costing as a sound basis for project planning. 

Marketing Drawings 

Marketing drawings is a service of CAD service providers for generating drawings intended for use by sales and marketing departments and for review by prospective buyers. 

Patent Drawings 

Patent drawings are a service of CAD service providers for preparation of drawings that illustrate an invention or new design. The requirements for a patent drawing vary and are a function of local legal jurisdiction. 

PE Stamping (Licensed Sign-off) 

Professional engineer (PE) stamping, also known as licensed sign-off, is a legal service of CAD service providers who have a registered or licensed engineer on staff. The service may include signing, sealing, or stamping of documents, either through traditional methods or electronically. Reports, drawings, and calculations are typical documents, and are often intended for a study, estimate, design, or analysis. The signer's organization, or the signer her- or himself, takes legal responsibility for the document's content after signing. 

Product Labels 

Product labels are a service of CAD service suppliers for designing and producing identifying item tags. The labels may include a manufacturer's logo, a bar code or product code, or an integral RFID data tag. 

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) 

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is a service of CAD service providers for managing the entire lifecycle of a product, or just the product's development, operation, and maintenance. 

Structural Drawings 

Structural drawings is a service of CAD service providers for producing technical drawings for architectural foundations, roofs, and other support elements used in building, road, and bridge construction. 

Survey Maps 

Survey maps is a service of CAD service providers for creating scaled drawings useful to government entities related to cities, towns, or villages. 

Technical Drawings 

Technical drawings is a service of CAD service providers for creating professional-grade, graphic communication documents useful to engineers, architects, interior designers, drafters, machinists, trades people and related professionals. 




Post – Design Services




Visualization describes the means by which CAD services can present the final product to the customers.


  • 2D Visualization is a service of CAD service providers for creating two-dimensional images, diagrams, or animations used in engineering, scientific, and other technical communication. 
  • 3D visualizations is a service of CAD service providers for creating three-dimensional images, diagrams, or animations used in engineering, scientific, and other technical communication. 
  • Animations is a service of CAD service providers for digitally creating two-dimensional and three-dimensional moving visualizations used in engineering, scientific, education, computer gaming, entertainment, and other applications.
  • Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is a service of CAD service providers for creating 3D computer graphic objects for use in engineering and scientific simulations, printed media, and for education, computer gaming, entertainment and other applications.
  • Mechanisms are a service of CAD service providers for creating graphical representations of interconnected physical bodies.
  • Photo-realistic rendering is a service of CAD service providers for creating life-like digital representations by employing a deep understanding of human visual perception from 3D-object source models.
  • Stress patterns services are offered by CAD service providers for creating computer-generated visual representations. This often uses color gradients of the forces that internally exist within a deformable body.  




Hardcopy services are used for binding, protecting, and displaying CAD documentation. Hardcopy services include:


Hardcopy Services



Binding is the process of assembling a formal technical communication container, for example, a book from a number of unfolded paper drawings and related technical materials. It is a service offered by CAD service providers. 

Blueprints / Bluelines 

Blueprints are detailed paper reproductions of technical drawings that document an architectural, engineering, or other design. They are produced using a cyanotype or similar process that yields a drawing with a dark-blue background with lighter-blue drawing lines. Bluelines are similar but use a white background with blue drawing lines, and are produced using a diazo or whiteprint process. Blueprints / Bluelines are a service of CAD service providers. 


Brochures or pamphlets are eye-catching paper-media leaflet advertisements. Their production is a service of CAD service providers. 


Datasheets are technical documents summarizing the performance and characteristics of a physical component, sub-assembly, assembly, or software package, in sufficient detail to be used by a design engineer for the purpose of system integration. Datasheet production is a service of CAD service providers. 

Film Media 

Film media are hardcopy micro-reproductions, approximately 25 times reduced. They are used for the transmission, archiving, reading, and printing of technical information. A 35mm Kodachrome slide is an example of film media. Production and digitization/scanning of film media are services of CAD service providers. 


Finishing is the process of decorating the outside of a hardcopy technical document container, for example, a book for the purpose of a formal, attractive presentation to a client. Decorations may include lettering of the spine and covers, inlays and onlays, and gildings. Finishing is a service of CAD service providers. 

ISO Plotting 

ISO plotting is hardcopy printing of technical drawings in the A1 through A8 millimeter standard paper sizes, as defined by the International Standards Organization (ISO). ISO plotting is a service of CAD service providers. 


Laminating is the process of applying a thin film, often a clear plastic film, to the outer surface of a technical drawing. Laminating protects the underlying image from environmental damage, and has visual appeal to clients. It is a service of CAD service providers. 



Lithography is a 2D printing method that uses a stone or a metal plate with a smooth surface to produce a technical document like a map. It employs a simple chemical process to create an image. Most hardcopy books are manufactured in volume using a variant known as Offset Lithography. Lithography is a service of CAD service providers. 

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Mounting is the process of adhering a technical drawing or similar communication to a heavy backing such as a foamcore, with the intention of producing a formal display for clients or colleagues. Mounting is a service of CAD service providers. 

Mylar Media 

Mylar® media is a hardcopy reproduction service of CAD service providers. Engineering or architectural drawings are plotted onto sheets of transparent boPET film, otherwise known by trade name Mylar, which form a hardcopy original source from which legal or quality-system-controlled hardcopies may be made.  

Presentation Folders 

Presentation folders are simple, hardcopy, technical document packets useful to engineers, architects and other staff at technical meetings and similar events. Preparation of attractive and stuffed presentation folders is a service of CAD service providers. 

Reproductions / Copies 

Reproductions / copies is a service of CAD service providers for duplicating - sometimes in volume - technical drawings and associated documents, with hardcopy as the finished product. 

Technical Posterboards 

Technical posterboards, also known as poster boards, are a formal hardcopy display used for succinct graphical and symbolic communication of engineering, scientific, or other technical ideas. Posterboards are used at universities, industry seminars, trade shows, laboratories, and at other formal locations or events where technical professionals gather to learn and share information on advances for a particular field. They are usually larger than the ISO A2 metric specification, and frequently supported by foam board backing material. Production of technical posterboards is a service of CAD service providers. 

Translucent Media 

Translucent media is a plotted hardcopy of an engineering, scientific or other technical drawing, by using a non-Mylar bond paper or paper-like material that allows for light to pass through. 

U.S. Customary Plotting 

U.S. customary plotting is a service of CAD service providers for production of hardcopy, inch-standard, technical drawings in sizes A through E. U.S. Customary plotting service providers may also offer other MIL-SPEC, architectural, and technical inch-standard drawing sizes used and developed in North America. 

Vellum Media 

Vellum media, sometimes called paper vellum, is a service of CAD service providers for plotting of architectural plans, engineering blueprints, and other technical drawings onto a usually translucent material made from plasticized cotton or an equivalent synthetic. Vellum media plots are used for master-drawing archiving and reproduction purposes. 


CAD Applications


Electrical engineers often use computer-aided design (CAD) services to prototype and develop electronic components. There are many different computer-aided design (CAD) software packages that will perform printed circuit board (PCB) design as well as provide simulation tools to test the circuit designs and analyze the results. Many printed circuit board design packages come with predefined blocks and scripts to make the CAD software easier to use. Additional features include tools for doing analog integrated circuit design or digital circuit design and backplane design. Below is a table detailing additional application specific CAD services.




Architectural Drawings 

Architectural drawing creation is a service offered by CAD service providers for generation of drawings used in the design of buildings and structures in commercial and industrial applications. 


Archiving is a service offered by CAD service providers for collection and storage of historical technical drawing records. Those records may include drafting logs, designer's intent details, regulatory approvals, and revision logs. Digital preservation of records on computer servers is now common, using equipment designed for redundancy and no data loss. 

Enterprise Software Integration 

Enterprise software integration is a service offered by CAD service providers for joining a computer-aided design (CAD) software system with another, formerly independent system responsible for functions like purchasing, job scheduling, accounting, etc. The goal is often to increase total work flow efficiency throughout the organization, once the integration is completed. 

Geometric Tolerancing (GD&T) 

Geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) is a service of CAD service providers for explicitly describing nominal geometry and its allowable variation, using industry standards. Both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) provide guidelines for best practices in executing GD&T within CAD drawings.   

GPS Integration 

Global positioning system (GPS) integration is a service of CAD service providers for combining CAD drawing information with geospatial coordinates available from the global navigation satellite system (GNSS). 

Optical Drawings 

Optical drawings is a service of CAD service providers for generating concept and production drawings related to optical, optomechanical, and optoelectronic devices or assemblies. 

Piping and Instrumentation (P&ID) Diagrams 

Piping and instrumentation (P&ID) diagrams is a service of CAD service providers for the generation of piping drawings that detail process flow, installed equipment, and instrumentation. 

Plant Layout 

Plant layout is a service of CAD service providers for creating an engineering study document used to analyze configuration options for an industrial plant. 


Scanning is a service offered by CAD service providers that uses optical and document scanners or imaging equipment to digitize, create, edit, and evaluate existing 2D hardcopy drawings. 

Web Site Drawings 

Web site drawings is a service of CAD service providers for creating technical graphic communication documents designed for viewing on the Internet. 

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