AutoCad is simply a brand of drawing software used to produce various types of graphics for the built environment. Hand drafting consists of using a drafting board, drafting machines, parallel bars, triangles and other sets of geometric tools. That said; as a professional drafter and designer of various graphic types, AutoCad- www.autodesk.com is probably the most popular design software in the engineering & design field. The question of comparing hand drafting to AutoCad for producing architectural drawings is a matter of preference for some designers, the time and cost that the client and design team have to invest in projects and the user of the software. There are so many variables to consider in asking this question. Some initial considerations include:
Size of firm- Does a small firm benefit or suffer from the use of a CAD system? I use Cad software and hand drafting since some presentation graphics require me to do so. AutoCad can also be used for presentation graphics but sometimes hand drafting is preferred.
Cost of software- $3000.00 to over $6000.00 per seat There is AutoCad Lt which costs around $ 900.00 but is limited in it's scope of capabilities from the full version of AutoCad
Is AutoCad feasible to a small 1 to 5 person firm? In many instances, the cost of AutoCad is more feasible to a small firm simply because it allows one to do more with less personnel.
Training- How will the users be trained and how will the firm operate while training is underway? Training is an issue since the business of design must go on while personnel is being trained. Autodesk who is the maker of AutoCad has Autodesk University that allows users to be trained via on-line providers, in person at your site, and at the site of authorized training centers located throughout the U.S. and other places in the world.
Is manual drafting more cost effective than using AutoCad- Sometimes hand drafting or manual drafting can be more cost effective than using CAD if a preliminary sketch is needed or during the design brainstorming process. Even revisions can be done by hand rather than changing an entire file if the revision or change is specific to the use of a drawing that has already been plotted (printed).
Manual drafters are more difficult to attain since the infusion of CAD drafting in Architecture- It is my professional opinion that most students in architecture programs are primarily trained using some form of CAD to produce drawings and spend a couple of weeks during their entire college experience learning to use manual drafting implements. It also true that once entering the real world of employment the the students are charged with making use of the company's CAD software vs being place at a drafting board with a set of technical pens, a parallel bar, and T-square. My opinion of this matter can be substantiated by researching most architecture course requirements and syllabus to verify that the manual drafting skill is less emphasised in architecture schools today.