What is CAD? A Simple Guide For Non-CAD Folks

Anyone starting to work with a design or building professional will stumble upon the term “CAD”. The term gets thrown around, and these professionals will ask property owners or managers if they have the CAD files of their property.

First and foremost, it’s an acronym (abbreviation) of 3 words: CAD stands for “Computer Aided Design”. The word refers to a few things beside the abbreviation itself.

There is a category of software called CAD and refers to software used by building & design professional to create drawings & models of elements as big as an entire city all the way down to simple knob or a screw!

Another time the term is used is when referring to file extensions – For example you would say I have my house floors in CAD format, meaning you have a digital drawing representing a house floor plan.

So to answer the question “what is CAD”, there’s a total of 3 good answers:

  1. Abbreviation of “Computer-Aided-Design”
  2. Software category for building & infrastructure software
  3. File extensions of CAD software

One of the most popular CAD software is AutoCAD by Autodesk – AutoCAD is used by everyone in the AEC industry from architects, interior designers, engineers, to contractors & builders.

CAD software can be 2D or 3D software used to create 2 dimensional drawings or to create 3 dimensional models that you can navigate within and explore.

CAD Drawing By Jay Cad


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