The future of CAD is starting to look pretty cool. Experts suggest that someday we will be able to design our products with the tips of our fingers through the use of specialized gloves and goggles. I would love to be more “hands-on” with my designs! But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at how CAD and 3D modeling have come to play such a crucial role in our world.
CAD stands for computer-aided design, and this design form can be traced back to the 1950s. It was at that time that Dr. Patrick Hanratty developed PRONTO, the first commercial numerical-control programming system. Using this system, CAD was represented in the form of 2D wireframe drawings. This first system, and others directly following it, only provided marginal improvements over drawing and editing by hand. 3D capabilities were integrated in the 1960s with the release of MAGI, the first commercially available solid modeling program.
In 1989, NURBS (mathematical representations of freeform surfaces) made their first appearance. Shortly following, MCAD systems introduced the concept of “constraints” which allow you to relate parts in an assembly. This paved the way for the CAD systems that are so widely accepted and used throughout the engineering industry today. CAD has even moved beyond the product development realm to include applications such as Google Maps, home furnishing, and garden planning.
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