Some of the computer magic that helps create designs for movie special effects, fashions, automotive parts and other products is being used to design merchandising displays for America's grocery, drug, hardware, supermarkets and general merchandise retailers.

Computers are generating the detailed drawings needed to turn engineering specifications into usable designs through a system called computer-aided design (CAD), notes The Howard Marlboro Group, a New York-based marketing communications company.The CAD system permits the manipulation of images representing three-dimensional objects, enabling Marlboro engineers to create display designs on a screen and then rotate, cut apart, weigh, measure, file and render solid objects electronically.

The systems run on personal computers, allowing engineers to automate drafting.