“The CAD file is in an actual model that gets used as input to the next phase of the work…
Nate Sprague

For buildings, the digital file can be used to manage construction and then carried over to operations; it’s a very interesting application of BIM (Building Information Modeling):

For many other kinds of physical products, there is CAM tooling. Few products are handcrafted by artisans who look at renderings and measurement printouts of CAD files — yet that’s what we do in software.

Software even has the unique advantage that the model and the implementation medium are both digital. So if anything, we should have better tools than the CAD/CAM/BIM world because there’s no moving of atoms involved.