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The Disadvantages of AutoCAD

Updated July 19, 2017

Autodesk AutoCAD is one of the most popular computer-aided design (CAD) programs, and it creates accurate, professional drawings. However, the program falls short for computer modelling and graphic design. The application has modelling tools, as well as colour and fill tools, but AutoCAD does not compare well to contemporary building information modelling (BIM), three-dimensional modelling or illustration software.

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AutoCAD produces drawings using line and shape tools. Curves, arcs and straight lines produce the shapes, but AutoCAD cannot edit the line and location as freely as illustration programs-- editing and overlapping lines and lineweights is limited to a few options. In addition, AutoCAD creates drawings from only lines, never volumetric models, such as with BIM. Nevertheless, the application can produce precise three-dimensional geometry with limited material effects.

Limited File Formats

Because AutoCAD is one of the leading CAD programs, it limits the number of file formats it can import or export, because Autodesk expects other programs to export to AutoCAD formats, such as DWG and DXF. Unfortunately, this creates problems when using other programs with more powerful tools and exporting the program to an AutoCAD format-- geometry, colour and effects are lost often.

Colour, Fill and Texture

AutoCAD drawings and models can have colour, fill and texture, using the line and hatch tools. However, the application limits the number of possible colours to 256 and the hatching provides only a handful of textures, so you cannot create photo realistic images like illustration programs. Instead, you can import image files and create material maps for AutoCAD renderings, but AutoCAD's rendering abilities cannot compete with three-dimensional modelling programs or illustration programs.


AutoCAD provides tools to create three-dimensional models, but editing the models requires many steps, unlike BIM parametric models, which automatically adjust all of the model components while editing elements. Furthermore, information is not attached to the models, such as with BIM parametric models-- BIM gives the designer data about the material and volumetric properties of the building project.

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About the Author

Ryan Crooks is a licensed architect with 15 years experience in residential, institutional, healthcare and commercial design. Crooks is also an instructor, teaching architecture to high school and college students. He has written hundreds of articles for various websites.

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