The Evolution of Drafting 

The Evolution of Drafting – Blueprints to Modern Day CAD

From The Earliest Blueprints To Modern CAD

The evolution of drafting has come a long way since its traceable beginnings in 2000 BC. We have discovered fossils showing aerial plans for Babylonian castles, structures and other buildings dating back to thousands of years ago. In 1905 the first modern drafting table was patented, and while the technology and process of drafting have changed significantly, the principles and techniques have remained the same throughout the years. 

Modern CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) software was popularized in the 1960s for its ability to simplify the drafting process. Architects and designers appreciate CADs ability to create blueprints that are more detailed and editable. Digital technologies such as CAD allow architects to collaborate remotely and to make edits to plans in process much easier. 

These days using CAD software is common practice, but there will always be a place for manual drafting. Using Computer Aided Drawing allows the architect to minimize tools and equipment, but many still prefer to draw their first draft by hand before hitting the computer. In today’s blog we will share the interesting details of the evolution of drafting, from the earliest blueprints to modern CAD.

Traditional Drafting – How Was Drafting Done Before CAD?

As we mentioned earlier, history shows traces of drafting being done on natural materials from aerial perspectives dating back thousands of years ago. We can only speculate the thought process and how they were able to create and understand such processes. As we look into the evolution of drafting we see that the tools and materials have changed significantly, but hand drawn plans still remained the universal method for centuries.

Moving from 2000 BC through the Renaissance era and into the 19th Century, we have seen the addition of modern drafting tools and philosophy. In the 1400s Leonardo Di Vinci revolutionized the way we think about complex technical drawings. The precise conventions of orthographic projection and scale used in modern day engineering drawing arose in France during the infancy of the Industrial Revolution. 

Before the introduction of Modern CAD, drafting required much more planning as making changes wasn’t easy. The tool bag of the architect included a drafting table, pencils, several types of paper, erasers, compasses,  T- squares and rulers, calculators and more. While modern day drafting still calls upon many of these tools, they aren’t necessary to the degree they previously were. Historical technical drawings could be as large as 50 feet! Try taking that home to work on. With modern day CAD you can literally grab your laptop and work on your drafting from anywhere. 

The Introduction of CAD – Computer Aided Drawing

The first real CAD software was called Pronto and it was developed by a man named Dr. Patrick Hanratty (the Father of CAD) in 1957.  Pronto was the first commercial numerical-control programming  system. This sparked the revolution of CAD software and technology. In the early 1960s, Dr. Patrick teamed up with IBM and General Motors to create DAC (Design Automated by Computer) which was later renamed CAD by scientist Douglas T. Ross.

Around the same time, Ivan Sutherland created a program called Sketchpad as part of his MIT thesis. This software was one of the first design systems to use a graphic user interface. Now drawings could be done in CAD with a light-pen. Sketchpad also introduced the use of “objects” and “instances”. 

The learning curve was not yet as steep as we would see it in the next chapter of drafting evolution and architects were excited to implement these new technologies as a tool in addition to their current process. CAD software eventually evolved to a point of replacing the need for drafting tables and material tools, however they were still used to create 2D drafts just like the ones done on paper. 

The Evolution of Drafting – Modern Day CAD

There are too many iterations between 1957 and today to share here, so we will jump to December 1982 for the birth of Autodesk. John Walker created Autodesk as the first AutoCAD technology that worked on PCs instead of just mainframe computers. This gave drafting software access to anyone who owned a personal computer. 

A few years later, Autodesk began offering 3D modeling systems. 3D drafting took over for building, automotive and aircraft design. Modern day CAD continues to evolve and there are more and more companies and inventors in the digital drafting space than ever before.

While the evolution of technology has offered great benefits, it has also proved to be too much too fast for many architects that came from the manual drafting age.  For architects that went to school for years to learn how to draft by hand, learning a whole new way of doing things was overwhelming. Nowadays the learning curve has caught up with the technologies as we have online learning programs to teach architects how to apply their knowledge of design and planning to CAD drafting software.

At B-CAD we offer training programs to help make it easy to evolve your drafting skills as things change in the industry so you can stay on top of trends and technology. 

The Next Phase of Evolution for CAD Drafting 

It’s clear that no one can truly predict the future of changing technologies, but we can speculate based on history. Computer Aided Drawing has come so far so quickly that nothing seems impossible. There are already people using computer generated 4D models to represent plans and ideas. The power of personalized computers has created opportunities for growth in all industries, and bridged the gap between resources.

Drafting will remain an in demand service in many industries. Regardless of the advances in technology, the principles and techniques of drafting remain the same. Both manual and computer skills are necessary for any drafter that wants to be successful.

We are starting to see CAD software that can be utilized on mobile, and tablets. Architectural virtual reality has made its appearance and it will only become more relevant as time goes on. By nature, architects and drafters are creative people that come up with innovations. Thinking outside of what’s happening currently to what could happen is what has carried this industry to such astonishing heights thus far. Maybe you will create the next step in our drafting evolution in the world of CAD technology.

If you are interested in learning more about what we offer for drafting services or training visit us here.