I have over 8 years of CAD experience, working mostly with the Autodesk suit. I am an avid user of Autodesk Inventor and AutoCAD, using them for every design I generate. I have some experience working with solid works but generally I find the skills to be quite interchangeable.
I use CAD in my process for many different reasons. The first of which is to gain a more accurate visualisation of my concepts. Once I have completed the sketch stage I will begin to generate a CAD model, with this I can finalise the design and generate a dimensioned drawing ready for prototyping. I will create the physical form as displayed below and place it in my sketch book ready for reference when I begin to physically craft the piece. CAD also allows for the piece to be easily altered if the design gets developed at any point.
Having a fully dimensioned drawing with me in the workshop is a must. It allows for reduced error and generally makes the whole process more comfortable. As most of my work results in quite detailed measurements and tolerances, the use of CAD also proves that the piece is going to assemble correctly. The most valuable component of CAD to me is the presentation drawings that can be created. With these I am able to make templates and use these templates to cut out physical templates, as seen below. With the use of these paper templates I am able to replicate physical pieces as any scale.
Finally I use CAD to create presentation boards and rational images. The use of exploded drawings and renderings can prove to dramatically increase understanding in a client or peer. As can be seen in the images below one CAD model can facilitate many different uses.