CAD stands for computer-aided design and describes using computer technology to draft or draw on a screen what an actual product will look like. This technology is used for designing anything from small mechanical parts to towering steel and glass buildings, microchips to tractors. The development of CAD allowed designers to save much time and be able to view a product design at any angle.
One company that uses CAD extensively is called Three M Tool. This York, PA, based company designs and manufactures custom wire baskets for use in industry. After clients tell what they want in a basket—what size, what shape, what materials, etc.—designers go to work creating a CAD model of the basket before it’s even produced. This saves time and money and ensures accuracy.
For example, manufacturers of parts for jet turbines may want wire mesh baskets to hold their parts as they are treated. These baskets must be able to withstand extremely high temperatures. Also, they should hold the parts snugly so they aren’t moving around while being treated. Three M Tool will first design on a computer a basket that will hold these parts precisely. They’ll determine what kind of materials should be used, picking from various grades of stainless steel or using carbon steel, depending on several factors including temperature resistance needed and flexibility. Then they should determine the mesh size. Surface finishes and coatings can keep a basket shiny and durable.
CAD can be used for projects large and small. Using this technology, one can design a small cylinder to hold precision surgical parts, or a large wire basket to hold parts for heavy construction equipment.
Industries first began to implement CAD in the 1960s. Aerospace engineers were among the first users of this technology. Interestingly enough, many aerospace manufacturers (including Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin) today purchase wire baskets designed by Three M Tool. Early CAD displays were not much more complex than hand drawings of designs. But as technology developed, CAD allowed designers to visualize on a screen more complex 3D objects with shapes that could be fully manipulated.
Now, with enough mathematical and technical knowledge and the proper software, one can create almost any possible object, at least on a screen. Who knows, maybe someone has already designed the robot that functions exactly like a human inside and outside. But more conventional applications of this software, like designing baskets for industries, still abound.
Using CAD software adds to the ability to customize baskets just in the way a customer wants. This makes it easier to serve a wide range of clients, from aerospace to medical industries. Three M can build a custom design in three dimensions on a screen, then build the actual basket so it can be put to use. Industries all over the country appreciate the quality of the baskets they receive. They realize the importance of having manufacturing equipment that is durable and designed exactly to the right dimensions and finish needed.