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Computer-Aided Design Drafters and Technicians


Drafting and design work used to be done with a pencil and paper on a drafting table. To make a circle, drafters used a compass. To draw straight lines and the correct angles, they used a straight-edge, T-square, and other tools. With every change required before a design was right, it was "back to the drawing board" to get out the eraser, sharpen the pencil, and revise the drawing. Everybody did it this way, whether the design was simple or complex: automobiles, hammers, printed circuit boards, utility piping, highways, or buildings.

CAD technology came about in the 1970s with the development of microprocessors (computer processors in the form of miniaturized integrated circuits contained on tiny silicon chips). Microprocessors opened up many new uses for computers by greatly reducing the size of computers while also increasing their power and speed.

Interestingly, the drafters and designers working to develop these microprocessors were also the first to benefit from this technology. As the circuits on the silicon chips that the designers were working on became too complex to diagram by pencil and paper, the designers began to use the chips themselves to help store information, create models, and produce diagrams for the design of new chip circuits. This was just the beginning of computer-assisted design and drafting technology. Today, there are tens of thousands of CAD workstations in industrial settings. CAD systems greatly speed up and simplify the designer's and drafter's work. They do more than just let the operator "draw" the technical illustration on the screen. They add the speed and power of computer processing, plus software with technical information that ease the designer/drafter's tasks. CAD systems make complex mathematical calculations, spot problems, offer advice, and provide a wide range of other assistance. Today, nearly all drafting tasks are done with such equipment.

As the Internet has developed, CAD operators can send a CAD drawing across the world in a matter of minutes attached to an e-mail message or by uploading it to the "cloud." Gone are the days of rolling up a print and mailing it. Technology has once again made work more efficient for the CAD designer and drafter.

Increasing productivity in the industrial design and manufacturing fields will ensure the long-term economic vitality of our nation; CAD technology is one of the most promising developments in this search for increased productivity. Knowing that they are in the forefront of this important and challenging undertaking provides CAD technicians and drafters with a good deal of pride and satisfaction.

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