Computer-aided drafting software, such as AutoCAD, became popular in the 1980s as an alternative to hand drafting. As offices became more reliant on computers and globalisation integrated international economies, CAD became the standard for many design- and construction-related industries. Compared to hand drafting, CAD has significant advantages in terms of speed, collaboration, portability and efficiency.
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CAD is significantly faster than hand drafting. Because the software treats common building components as objects that can be inserted, moved and copied easily rather than redrawing them individually each time, drafting time can be significantly reduced. When changes to a design are necessary, they can be made in minutes or possibly hours rather than the days that could be required to redraw a significant portion of a design.
Significant improvements in collaboration can also be found with CAD software. Many different industries use the technology, and architectural design plans are frequently supplemented by additional design plans from the electrical system, plumbing system and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. With modern CAD software, all of these designs can be placed into a single CAD design, with all elements of the building in one place. This allows the designers of each component to see how the other designs work with their own -- something that cannot be done with hand drafting.
In addition to the improvements in collaboration, CAD offers significant advantages over hand drafting in terms of portability. Because CAD files are easily transferred, a company in Atlanta can hire an architectural drafting firm in New York, an electrical design company in Chicago, a plumbing design company in Los Angeles and an HVAC company in Berlin for a building to be constructed in Mexico City. All of the parties involved can share information on a daily basis, if not in real time.
In addition to faster speeds in drafting, collaboration and information sharing, third-party add-ons to popular CAD software AutoCAD speed things up when construction time approaches. By gathering data from the CAD drawings, the software can provide quantities of materials and supplies that will be needed for a job. Additional add-ons allow work schedules to be drafted from the CAD drawings.
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