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CAD software used in the fashion industry has become a necessity to keep up with the pace of modern design processes. From 3D fashion design models to illustrations and sketches, even free CAD software can open new avenues for designers of all abilities.

Due to its integral role in the industry today, CAD is often taught as part of a fashion design degree so that prospective designers can use it in the workplace. The good news is that CAD software skills for fashion design can be self-taught with the right resources, so anyone can have a go – even if it's just for fun.

What is CAD in fashion design?

CAD is also known as computer-aided design and is carried out using specialist software. The meaning of CAD in fashion design involves using this software to generate garment designs, either as 2D fashion flats or 3D models.

CAD programs used in fashion design are sophisticated enough for designers to create a virtual visualisation of what the product should look like. The more technical the software is, the more details you will be able to integrate – think different types of knits, printed patterns and more.

How does CAD help in fashion designing?

As with any industry that uses CAD, those in fashion design can benefit from the ability to create and amend precise designs before sending them into production. This can save time, as creating prototypes can be a lengthy process – especially if they need to be adapted. You can revisit existing designs or templates to make changes instead of starting from scratch.

It's important to remember that while this opens up great creative avenues, there's also a business element to keep in mind. CAD programs used in fashion design enable designers to cut out laborious or time-consuming elements of the design process. In other words, it can help you work more efficiently, without compromising the quality of the designs. This helps save time and money in the long term.

Sustainability is a huge factor to consider if the fashion industry; CAD can aid sustainable design methods. Using CAD, designers can craft garments with more attention to the materials used, as well as the quality of the design. Plus, the ability to refine a precise design using clear markers limits the likelihood of wasting fabric and other materials when it comes to buying and prototyping.

How is CAD used in the fashion industry?

CAD is used in the early stages of the fashion design workflow. You can use it to bring initial sketches to life or begin designing from scratch using the software. Designers will develop either a 2D fashion flat or a 3D model to showcase their visions.

CAD can help you apply exact measurements, much like when prototypes are developed in manufacturing industries. Different shapes, fabrics, patterns and textures can be applied to help you achieve the final outcome. These designs will be reviewed and potentially adjusted before they're put into production to produce the garment.

With CAD for fashion design, you can do the following:

  • Turn a flat 2D fashion sketch into a 3D model
  • Create from-scratch 2D or 3D CAD fashion illustrations
  • Revisit and adjust existing designs
  • Create more fashion designs in less time
  • Create fashion design templates
  • Apply a range of colours, textures, prints and materials
  • Brainstorm ideas and create mood boards

What are the key benefits of using CAD in fashion design?

There are several benefits to using CAD for fashion designing, both in a creative and business sense. With CAD in fashion design, you can do the following:

  • Create precise designs that integrate measurements and materials
  • Use proportions that fit a real body
  • Create fashion designs even if you don't have drawing skills
  • Showcase designs more clearly than with a single fashion design sketch
  • Save time and money creating samples
  • Use it in technical, textile or fashion design niches
  • Share designs virtually with others
  • Use it as a beginner or professional
  • Expand your skillset with tutorials and courses online

Start your CAD fashion design journey with DesignSpark Mechanical

Download our CAD software for fashion design for free to take your creations to a new level. Simply download DesignSpark Mechanical Explorer to see what our basic CAD package looks like. If you like what you see, you can upgrade to Creator or Engineer to unlock more advanced features to create more intricate designs.

To find out more about our CAD software, you can learn about the basics of DesignSpark Mechanical online. Alternatively, check out our support FAQs and Mechanical Forum for more information.

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I'm a Mechanical Engineer by qualification though I worked for a long time specialising in Motion Control systems and integration with various PLC systems. I've wide experience of many types of applications from packaging machines to military and some applications that I can't mention. At home, I like to tinker and make things with wood, metal, plastics, electronics and mechanical system. I'm never happier than with a hammer and a screwdriver in my hands....