From the early days of aviation, development of aircraft, aircraft engines, and other components relied heavily on aircraft drawings. For most of the 20th century, drawings were created on a drawing “board” with pen or pencil and paper. However, with the introduction and advancement of computers in the later decades of the 20th century, the way drawings are created changed dramatically. Computers were used not only to create drawings, but they were being used to show items in “virtual reality,” from any possible viewing angle. Further development saw computer software programs with the capability of assembling separately created parts to check for proper fit and possible interferences. Additionally, with nearly instantaneous information sharing capability through computer networking and the Internet, it became much easier for designers to share their work with other designers and manufacturers virtually anytime, anywhere in the world. Using new computer controlled manufacturing techniques, it literally became possible to design a part and have it precisely manufactured without ever having it shown on paper. New terms and acronyms became commonplace. The more common of these terms are:
- Computer Graphics — drawing with the use of a computer,
- Computer Aided Design Drafting (CADD) — where a computer is used in the design and drafting process,
- Computer Aided Design (CAD) — where a computer is used in the design of a product,
- Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) — where a computer is used in the manufacturing of a product, and
- Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) — where a computer is used in the engineering of a product.
As computer hardware and software continue to evolve, there continues to be a greater amount of CAE done in less time at lower cost. In addition to product design, some of the other uses of CAE are product analysis, assembly, simulations and maintenance information. [Figure 2-1]