In the year, 1962, computer scientist, Ivan Sutherland, created the first computer graphic program, “SketchPad”, which allowed people to write or draw simple figures directly on a screen with the help of a special pencil. This heralded the revolution called CAD, short for computer-aided-design. All future CAD software would emanate from this rudimentary piece of genius!

Getting to Know the Basics

Starting out as primarily a research tool, CAD began to be employed and developed by big automotive and aerospace companies, starting in the 1970s. They dedicated research programs to expand the applications of CAD and it soon spread to other industries in the 1980s. With the 1990s, tools like CATIA and AutoCAD were developed, further expanding the applications of CAD.

The AutoCAD software has made drafting and making blueprints much more efficient in comparison to past methods. | Source: Pixabay

What is CAD?

CAD is a complete digital solution meant for engineering and designing projects. It has greatly revolutionized the way designs and models are perceived in industrial sectors such as architecture automobile manufacturing, defense and aerospace, and so on.

Computer-aided design (CAD) refers to computers being used to assist the design process in all sorts of industries.

Design engineers can use CAD software to build an entire model in an imaginary space. With CAD, they can easily visualize 3D properties like height, width, distance, material, or color, to prepare the model for an actual application.

What is AutoCAD?

The AutoCAD software is a computer-aided tool that allows many different types of designers to create diverse kinds of drawings and designs. 

AutoCAD can create any 2D drawing and 3D model or construction that can be drawn by hand.

Designers can also group or layer objects, keep objects in a database for future use, and manipulate properties of objects, such as size, shape, and location.

AutoCAD has numerous applications in a wide range of fields. The program can be used for simple projects, such as graphs or presentations, or complex designs, like drawing up the architecture of a building. Some other practical applications may include:

  • Interior designs
  • Aeronautical designs
  • Logos
  • Fine art
  • Maps
  • Greeting cards
  • Engineering designs
  • Architectural designs

How to Set Up an AutoCAD Account

Create an Autodesk account and be prepared to take full advantage of the benefits on offer. Access and use the Character Generator Web Service offerings available for the chosen account type.

There is no pre-requisite for creating an Autodesk account. Anyone can create an Autodesk account, and it's free.

Follow these steps to set up your account if you are on an Autodesk M&E DCC Subscription or if you are on a Character Generator Web Service Subscription.

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AutoCAD software is easy to install. | Source: Pixabay
    1. Create an Autodesk account and access your Character Generator benefit here.
    2. Click Create an Account.
    3. Enter the required personal, contact, and account information.
    4. Your Autodesk ID must contain at least 6 characters and your password must be 8-12 characters and must contain at least 1 letter and 1 number.
    5. Click Create an Account.
    6. You can now sign in to your account.
    7. Click Sign In.
    8. The Autodesk Character Generator Agreement displays.
    9. To continue, agree to the Terms of Service and to the Privacy Statement, then click Accept.
    10. Character Generator launches on the Character Designs page. The page is empty.
    11. When you save your customized characters, the Character Designs page displays the thumbnails of your saved characters.
    12. Click New.

    Note: For an AutoCAD student account or in case of a subscription, the non-default Artistic Styles and the Premium character presets display a blue Cloud credit icon. Blue Cloud credit icons identify the paid offerings. In other words, characters generated with these presets require to be purchased in order to be downloaded.

    In case yellow Cloud credit alert icons are displayed instead of blue Cloud credit icons, it means the paid offerings have not yet been activated for your account. You may need to wait four hours after you have activated your account to have access to the paid offerings. In such a case, sign out, and wait four hours before signing back into your account.

    How to Install AutoCAD 2020

    To begin the process, download the AutoCAD installer file from the Autodesk Manage portal. To do this, simply double-click it which will prompt you to select the extraction destination folder. Then, click OK to proceed with these next steps.

    1. Wait for the extraction of the files to be completed, during which you will be prompted to decide if you want to allow the app to make changes to your device. Select YES to proceed.
    2. The installation window will appear and you can click on the Install button to begin the installation process.
    3. Make sure you understand the License and Services Agreement before selecting the “I ACCEPT” button. Then, click NEXT.
    4. On the next window, you can click on the down arrow to see configuration options such as installation type. Click the arrow again to close and return to the product list. Click on the INSTALL button.
    5. Once the installation is complete, you will see this window which will list the items that have been successfully installed. Click FINISH to exit.
    6. Restart your computer for changes to take effect. After restarting, double-click on the AutoCAD 2020 icon located on your desktop to launch the application. If you have a previous AutoCAD version installed, the Migrate Custom Settings dialog will appear and you can select which items you want migrating to the latest version. Click the CHECK button to accept.
    7. Launching your AutoCAD 2020 application for the first time will display the activation dialog. Verify what type of license you’ve purchased and click the corresponding option either as a SINGLE-USER or a MULTI-USER. If you are unsure, you can click on 'Help me choose' for a description of each type or you can go to your Autodesk Manage account.
      • SINGLE-USER: This method would require you to sign in using your Autodesk account ID and Password. Your Contract Manager should already have assigned you a valid seat in their Autodesk Manage account for this to work. Enter your registered Email address and click NEXT. Enter your Password and click NEXT.
      • SERIAL NUMBER: This method will work for both Subscription and Perpetual licenses. Read the Autodesk Privacy Statement and click on the I AGREE button. Select ACTIVATE which will then require you to enter a valid Serial Number and Product Key. Then, click NEXT.
      • MULTI-USER: Make sure that your workstation is properly connected to your company server where the network license is stored. Select the MULTI-USER option which should automatically connect to the server to verify the license.
    The AutoCAD software is now available as a mobile app, providing users with easy access on the go. | Source:

    AutoCAD for Beginners

    For beginners without any previous training at a technical institute, learning how to use the fundamentals and crucial functions of AutoCAD may need time to correctly grasp.

    The following are twoessential functions of AutoCAD that must be grasped: 

    • Object Snap: when using the object snap feature, a menu should be opened on the software that will display many distinct activating elements such as the midpoint, the quadrant, and the tangent. By clicking on the midpoint, AutoCAD allows you to create a new object by sticking the first point on the exact midpoint of a line. The quadrant feature will enable users to start the next object from the 0, 90, 180, 270-degree edge of a circle. By selecting tangent, you are allowed to stick the end of your line at the point tangent to a circle. 
    • Setting the Correct Units: to set and select the correct units you wish to use on your draft write UNITS on your keyboard and press ENTER. A window appears allowing you to specify and configure the drawing units. Aspects such as length, angle, insertion scale, sample output, and lighting are all featured on the window that pops up. 

    More and more engineering, manufacturing, and technology companies are taking recourse to the use of CAD software to increase efficiency, achieve accuracy, and reduce time to market products.

    Someday we’ll need CAD software to emulate human intelligence to realize some tasks, thus “smart” CAD software is potentially lying in wait in the future. - According to Andreas Vlahinos, CTO at Advanced Engineering Solutions

    AutoCAD is constantly evolving. The regular updates and addition of new features with every new version make the software a necessary tool for companies. The software also does not disappoint by offering a wide array of options for professionals from different fields.

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    Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.