What Are the Different Types of Computer-Assisted Design Software?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 05 January 2020
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Computer-assisted design (CAD) software, also known as computer-aided design software, comes in many different packages so operators can create plans on different planes and the software can play to the user’s strengths. When it comes to choosing computer-assisted design software, the most common difference between the programs comes down to dimensions. There is 2D, 2.5D, and 3D, or three-dimensional, computer-assisted design software, and there is special 3D CAD programs made for modeling objects either as a solid object or a wireframe. All of these program types can be used to build successful building plans, so it really is up to the user to choose which program is the best.

In 2D computer-assisted design software, there is only an X axis and Y axis on which to draw. There is no depth, making all drawings flat. Users must rely on simple geometric shapes to create plans. This is best for architectural plans, because these plans do not need depth for the workers to create the house or building.


With 2.5D, there is no real depth added to the plans, but a false Z axis is introduced to trick the mind into thinking there is depth. This is similar to how a painter or drawer can show object depth on a flat piece of paper or canvas. Objects made are prismatic in this computer-assisted design software. The objects are still simple geometric figures like those in 2D CAD, so this can be used for more detailed house plans and projects where a sense of depth is needed.

When using 3D computer-assisted design software, the user is actually making a 3D representation of the object. There is depth and the object has different sides that can be rotated and moved. This creates accurate models, but the user must be technically proficient to make the object. These CAD programs are best for product creation, for which a flat drawing cannot fully capture all the detail necessary. Printing is sometimes a problem with 3D CAD, because the model cannot be moved around on paper and the user will have to print each side for a full representation.

Modeling CAD programs are similar to 3D programs but have more functionality. This is made to show items with internal parts or to show the object moving around. Wireframe modeling programs allow the user to create a wireframe skeleton. In solid modeling, a full, solid model with all the color and depth is created. The two are usually combined, with a wireframe made first and then a solid model placed over it.



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