Mechanical Computer Aided-Design Software (MCAD) Information
Mechanical computer aided-design software, or MCAD, is used by technical designers and engineers to design and develop mechanical systems. MCAD software is also used in architectural, civil engineering and construction applications. It first replaced classic mechanical drafting and then grew in scope by adding engineering calculations and automated parts list creator modules. Mechanical computer aided-design software is now written to run on modern personal computers with graphical user interfaces (GUI) like Microsoft Windows, MAC OS or Linux operating systems. Web-based MCAD software is also available.
Some mechanical computer-aided design software packages are simple, two-dimensional (2D) wireframe programs for creating engineering drawings or schematics. Other MCAD applications are complex three-dimensional (3D) products for developing accurate and dynamic models. The big difference in 2D vs. 3D is the appearance. The color textures in 3D show depth and height while 2D just shows simple tones. Also, 3D plans can be manipulated easily to show different perspectives of the same object from any angle or height. These 3D MCAD applications may also provide different surface-modeling options and animation techniques. Sophisticated MCAD software can also take individual components and assemble them into a proposed design enabling users to determine whether the components will work together successfully.
Mechanical computer aided-design software may use a bottom-up or top-down approach. Beginning with a basic drawing and then building more elaborate designs is called bottom-up design. Top-down design approaches involve breaking down an existing product into single components. This approach allows mechanical designers to assess and evaluate the functionality of each individual component before assembling the new final product. Sometimes, MCAD software is used by electrical and electronic engineers for printed circuit board (PCB) design and wiring diagrams. Mechanical computer aided-design software also lends itself to manufacturing process design by graphically representing the layout of the plant or facility.
Architectural, Engineering, and Construction, or AEC, software is a type of mechanical computer-aided design software tailored for architects and structural and building engineers. Since architecture involves an immense amount of drafting and precise dimensioning and calculations, it lends itself well to CAD. More complex visualization apps allow architects to input sketches or other technical documents such as component drawings from a vendor, maps, or photos. The AEC software operator combines all the relevant pieces to produce drawings, specifications, materials lists, and even schedules for the project. Other specialized AEC software packages may include calculations for the size and strength of materials in a particular building configuration or on a load bearing wall or column. The software can model the effect of wind and other environmental stresses on a particular structure. Construction and civil engineers may select CAD software such as an AEC application to produce maps of a proposed site, or site plans, and to create the property surveys. Most important to the construction of the buildings these software packages may have project management, time tracking and job scheduling modules. These make possible the most efficient and economical flow of men and materials to the job site for the fastest completion time.