What is drafting? Who is a drafter?

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These are the two most common questions that I am asked when telling someone what I do for a living.  The majority of people that find out I am a drafter don’t know what it is, so for my first blog post that gets into real content about drafting, I chose to answer these questions.

Drafters usually fall into one of the following categories:  A) went to college for undergraduate and/or graduate studies in architecture or engineering and ended up finding a job and/or company they were happy with,  B)  obtained an associate degree or related 2 year certification from a community college in architectural design or AutoCAD drafting and ended up finding a job and/or company they were happy with, C) one of the previous educational accomplishments paired with eventually setting out on a new venture to freelance, either working from home or a shared working space.

What we actually do is make 2D or 3D technical drawings, either with or without the convenience of a computer, of anything that will be build, molded, or manufactured for production.  To draw something that has not been put into existence yet lays out a set of instructions for a construction contractor, a manufacturing plant, or company that will make the product.  The drawings have to show and leave out particular information, use line weights, label dimensions, and include any other notes, in order to convey the correct build of the product.

There are two kinds of drafting.  Most drafters begin to learn drafting by having a basic knowledge of geometry and having a handle on mechanical drafting (otherwise known as hand drafting).  Drafting by hand involves many hand tools, more time , less ability to make significant changes fast, and leaning over a large desk for long spans of time. The finished drawings become extremely valuable because the work is very tedious.  Drafting on a computer with a program such as AutoCAD is much more widely accepted now as the standard for drafting.  Changes can be made much quicker, and the ability to use previous drawings for a new project, to carry over information just by saving the file under a different file name, reduces the time put into a project.  The possibility of not understanding handwriting is generally reduced because a drafting program will have pre-loaded fonts available for text.

Not all drafters only take on this one piece of their job description.  Some are very well rounded with other production skills that may need to include drafting to accomplish the task, such as CNC milling (subtraction of material) or 3D printing (addition of material).  Some drafters worked in a manufacturing plant before going into this field.  Others may have worked in various types of offices, such as design, engineering, construction, or manufacturing, before possibly choosing one industry or company that suits their interests and knowledge.

Hoping this entry will help explain a general overview of the profession.  If I’m missing anything here, or if you have a personal experience you would like to share, please comment below.


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