What Does a Design Drafter Do?

M. Kayo

The basic responsibilities of a design drafter are the creation of technical drawings, schematics, or related documents that are necessary to produce an item. A design drafter typically has well-developed drafting skills, mechanical drawing abilities, and other related skills. Working alongside or with an engineer or team of engineers requires good communication and people skills. Knowledge of various computer systems and programs is another essential part of this job. Most design drafters have a high school diploma or GED (general education diploma) with an associate's degree in mechanical engineering or a certificate in computer aided drafting and design (CADD) from an accredited technical school. Design drafters may also mentor or train lower proficiency level draftsmen.

Some design drafters specialize in drafts made using computer aided drafting software.
Some design drafters specialize in drafts made using computer aided drafting software.

Well-developed drafting and mechanical design skills are based in a working knowledge of basic machine and mechanism functionality. Some design drafters will use this mechanical design and drafting skill to create alternative designs that increase the quality or improve the product or part in some way. Other design or drafting skills may include the ability to understand and create parametric 3D models form design schematics or drawings. Drafting and mechanical drawing skills are needed in order to comply with design specifications, and a clear understanding of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) may also be required.

A design drafter might have considerable AutoCAD experience.
A design drafter might have considerable AutoCAD experience.

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Support for engineers or other personnel through providing consistently reliable technical drawings, schematics, or other related documents are part of the essential responsibilities of this job. A design drafter may be called upon to work with an engineer, team of engineers, technical personnel, or vendors. These people will typically require a design drafter to produce detailed schematics or technical drawings for a specific product along with a detailed parts list and, possibly, cost estimates for producing the part or product. Working closely with all different types of people requires well developed communications skills like active listening. Habits, such as taking detailed notes and following directions carefully are also important.

Design drafters typically have a working knowledge of the computer systems and software associated with the engineering and drafting industry. A command of computer aided design (CAD) technology is just one of the many essential skills necessary for this job. Some practicing in this field have a number of years of CAD, AutoCAD®, or Autodesk Inventor® experience in areas related to the manufacturing industry. A basic familiarity with standard office software programs and productivity software is also essential.

Design drafters using CAD do their jobs more quickly, producing more designs than those who draw by hand.
Design drafters using CAD do their jobs more quickly, producing more designs than those who draw by hand.

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