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Computer-Aided Design: How It Improves Safety in Engineering

Computer-aided design or CAD has been a critical component in engineering for many years, especially in developing construction plans and in creating 3D models of devices, machinery, and infrastructure. More than designs and models, however, CAD is also an important tool in improving safety in the actual profession and, in turn, the products that they build.

Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis

CAD helps designers create more accurate drawings and models, down to the smallest nuts and rivets. Being able to visualize an object—say a house or a high-rise building—before construction means that safety hazards can be identified immediately. Partnered with other technologies like BIM (building information modeling) and file sharing through the cloud, both the designers and the builders can collaborate in making the structure safer, all while keeping track of costs.

Solidworks CAD Software, a popular program, even offers 3D design solutions that incorporate simulation and motion validation tools, which can be valuable in determining the effects of outside forces and other elements to the design. Think of a power tool with multiple gears spinning at high speed. By simulating the motion of these gears through CAD, engineers can analyze and determine the best orientation of these gears for the highest possible power output. They can even forecast how soon the gears’ threads will wear out, thereby allowing the manufacturer to inform users aboutwhen to have the tool maintained or replaced altogether.

Another industry with immediately visible benefits from CAD is automotive engineering and safety. Using CAD modeling and simulation, cars can be put through a variety of situations—high speeds, extreme impact, and even harsh weather conditions. Using information gathered from these simulations, car engineers can make adjustments to the design and construction as they see fit. CAD tools can also be used also to design and calibrate car safety features like seatbelts, airbags, shock absorbers, and more without having to manufacture an actual product. Once all the parts and features are deemed ready for production, only then will a prototype be manufactured for additional testing.

Data-Driven Changes

With data collected over a certain period, CAD can help produce not only safer products but also help design safer working environments. The data can come from both previous CAD simulations and real-world applications and experiences.

Hospital environments, for example, can be designed and simulated through CAD in order to determine the best locations for every facility, which can result in improved efficiency, safety, and comfort. Even the smallest office spaces can use CAD to optimize the ergonomics and placement of equipment and furniture so that they don’t interfere with human interaction.

Using CAD, engineers can likewise better document their designs every step of the way. This is particularly helpful when they are modifying their designs or referring to old ones in order to determine which features to alter, replace, or remove completely. These designs can then be used by other professionals, who may want to review or even improve upon the existing designs, all while keeping the original designs untouched.

CAD is more than just a design tool. With careful study, application, and integration with other relevant and allied technologies, CAD can be used to develop products and systems that improve safety and help better people’s lives.