Computer-aided design (CAD) is the use of computer programs to create two- or three-dimensional (2D or 3D) graphical representations of physical objects. CAD software may be specialized for specific applications. CAD is widely used for computer animation and special effects in movies, advertising, and other applications where the graphic design itself is the finished product. CAD is also used to design physical products in a wide range of industries, where the software performs calculations for determining an optimum shape and size for a variety of product and industrial design applications.
In product and industrial design, CAD is used mainly for the creation of detailed 3D solid or surface models, or 2D vector-based drawings of physical components. However, CAD is also used throughout the engineering process from conceptual design and layout of products, through strength and dynamic analysis of assemblies, to the definition of manufacturing methods. This allows an engineer to both interactively and automatically analyze design variants, to find the optimal design for manufacturing while minimizing the use of physical prototypes.