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    There are several different CADD formats. The most recognized CADD formats include 2D drawings and 3D wireframe, surface, and solid models. In general, 2-D drawings and 3-D solid models are the most common CADD formats currently used in the industry. Three-dimensional surface models are also widely used, but often for specific applications. Three-dimensional wireframe models are rare in the current industry. Software specifies the CADD format, which usually focuses on a certain process such as 2-D drawing or 3-D solid modeling.

    However, some systems offer tools for working in a variety of formats or the ability to use drawing or model content created in a different format. For example, you can often develop a 2D drawing from 3D model geometry or build a 3-D solid model from 3-D surface model geometry. A software add-on or separate application is sometimes required to work with multiple CADD formats.


    Several factors influence CADD software and format selection. Design and drafting practices and specific project requirements are primary considerations. Two-dimensional drawings are often required because they are the standard format in manufacturing and construction.

    The figure shows a 2-D structural detail required for the construction of a building. In addition, 2-D drawing is effective for a project that is quick to design, does not require extensive revision, and does not require advanced visualization, simulation, and analysis. Three-dimensional solid modeling is a better solution when a complex project will require extensive revision and when advanced visualization, simulation, and analysis are required. A 3-D representation of a design can help overcome visualization problems and produce a realistic, testable product model.


    The figure shows a multidiscipline 3D model of a building providing structural, electrical, HVAC, and piping layouts. When applied correctly, a combination of CADD formats and software may prove most effective for a project. Bringing the advantages of each CADD format together maximizes product design flexibility and effectiveness.

    Collaboration and communication during a project also influence CADD software and format selection. Everyone involved in a project must be able to use a common CADD format or be able to easily convert data to a usable format. Costs are another important factor to consider when choosing a CADD software and format. For example, advanced 3-D solid modeling software is generally more expensive than 2-D drafting software. Operating a new or different CADD system also requires training and time to learn. Training is an expense and takes time from projects that produce income. A more capable CAD format, such as 3D solid modeling, is extremely cost-effective for some users, especially over time, but others will never benefit from the initial costs of the software and training. Several additional factors also influence selecting CADD software and format, including choosing a product and a format that is a known industry standard for project requirements, software stability and usability, the availability and effectiveness of support and training, and personal preference.

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