A drafter (also draughtsman / draughtswoman in British and Commonwealth English, draftsman / draftswoman or drafting technician in American and Canadian English) is an engineering technician who makes detailed technical drawings or plans for machinery, buildings, electronics, infrastructure, sections, etc. Drafters use computer software and manual sketches to convert the designs, plans, and layouts of engineers and architects into a set of technical drawings. Drafters operate as the supporting developers and sketch engineering designs and drawings from preliminary design concepts.
In the past, drafters sat at drawing boards and used pencils, pens, compasses, protractors, triangles, and other drafting devices to prepare a drawing by hand. From the 1980s through 1990s, board drawings were going out of style as the newly developed computer-aided design (CAD) system was released and was able to produce technical drawings at a faster pace.
Many modern drafters now use computer software such as AutoCAD, Revit, and SolidWorks to flesh out the designs of engineers or architects into technical drawings and blueprints but board drafting still remains the base of the CAD system. Many of these drawings are utilized to create structures, tools or machines. In addition, the drawings also include design specifications like dimensions, materials and procedures. Consequently, drafters may also be casually referred to as CAD operators, engineering draftspersons, or engineering technicians.|
With CAD systems, drafters can create and store drawings electronically so that they can be viewed, printed, or programmed directly into automated manufacturing systems. CAD systems also permit drafters to quickly prepare variations of a design. Although drafters use CAD extensively, it is only a tool. Drafters still need knowledge of traditional drafting techniques, in addition to CAD skills. Despite the near global use of CAD systems, manual drafting and sketching are used in certain applications.
Drafters' drawings provide visual guidelines and show how to construct a product or structure. Drawings include technical details and specify dimensions, materials, and procedures. Drafters fill in technical details using drawings, rough sketches, specifications, and calculations made by engineers, surveyors, architects, or scientists. For example, drafters use their knowledge of standardized building techniques to draw in the details of a structure. Some use their understanding of engineering and manufacturing theory and standards to draw the parts of a machine; they determine design elements, such as the numbers and kinds of fasteners needed to assemble the machine. Drafters use technical handbooks, tables, calculators, and computers to complete their work.
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