Using quality CAD software helps improve design quality, documentation, and designer productivity while enabling you to create a database of designs for manufacturing.
As a result, your production lifecycle becomes faster with quality and accuracy, which delights your customers and retains them for the long term.
Similarly, students can use CAD software to learn how to design and document models or parts and bring their ideas to reality for innovation. It can also open the window of opportunity for their career growth.
So, if you are a student or a professional looking for an efficient CAD software solution, this article is for you.
Let’s discuss what CAD software is and the best options for it.
What is CAD software?
Computer-Aided Design (CAD) refers to the usage of computers to create, modify, optimize, and analyze a design. And the software that enables this type of designing on a computer is called CAD software.
CAD software comes with an easy-to-use interface and various tools and features to make the design process seamless and accurate. You can create 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional models of physical components and print the designs on a page to be taken to the next steps for production.
CAD software also facilitates the design process flow from designing to manufacturing and simulates a model’s movement in 3D. The software is used across industries, including engineering (such as aerospace and mechanical), architecture, automotive, jewelry, graphic design, healthcare, motion pictures, and more.
What are the benefits of using CAD software?
Automation has become increasingly important in every sector, be it manufacturing or print media. Hence, businesses of different sectors have been using CAD software as it offers many benefits in terms of time, cost, and effort. Here’s how it can benefit your business.
Instead of using the traditional pen-and-paper methods, CAD software helps designers create quality models free from errors. They can work much faster and easier by leveraging valuable tools and features from the software.
For example, if designers want to draw a circle, they don’t have to do it manually. They can just select the circle option from the workbench and move to the next step. It saves their time and effort and eliminates inaccuracies.
In addition, if something is wrong or needs modification in the model, it’s also easier to erase it and design the new elements, which used to be tedious in the traditional modes.
Hence, designers can create quality models with accuracy and speed so their designs can be approved quickly. It also helps the design move to the next step in the manufacturing process, reducing the production timeline.
Streamlines design process
Designers can visualize how their design looks from all angles through the 3D models. It also allows the product managers to verify whether the design is acceptable for the end product. They can also connect different design parts and simulate the model to see how it works.
If there is any error, designers can iterate their designs quickly and produce the perfect models. Every stage can be documented and analyzed using CAD software so the entire team can be on the same page. This streamlines the design process and increases productivity and the chance of completing the project successfully.
CAD software can generate documentation automatically that acts as a reference when you have to make some design decisions. It can list product details, components, parts, assembly, calculations and measurements, geometry and dimensions, material specifications, etc.
It’s also helpful to clarify doubts and common questions people keep asking. They can look at the documentation and help themselves, which saves time for the entire production team.
Using CAD software keeps all the people in a team in sync and helps communicate clearly about the projects’ progress.
It helps them follow a standard process for designing, assembly, simulation, and other related functions. It also helps managers understand the design by looking at its 2D or 3D model and its specifications to give instructions or approve it for production.
Maintaining a database
Keeping a record of all the parts, materials, models, specifications, and other minor details of a project takes so much time and effort if you do it manually. But using CAD software makes it easy to maintain a database of all these details so you can track all the products designed and manufactured while taking inspiration for further innovation.
In addition, you can also reuse a part by tweaking some specifications instead of designing it from scratch, which again saves you time.
What are its applications?
CAD software is used by a lot of professionals and students in various industry verticals. It’s used by:
Mechanical design engineers for designing, manufacturing, and simulation of mechanical parts
Architects to design and draft models for construction
Manufacturers to inspect, fabricate, and inspect parts
Structural engineers to accelerate fabrication
Civil engineers to design for construction
Electrical engineers design control systems and document them
Automobile engineers to design, conceptualize, and render parts
In addition, CAD software is used to protect inventions and products for patent applications, design prosthetics in healthcare, computer animation, special effects in motion pictures, digital content creation, create technical manuals, and advertising.
If you want to buy CAD software, it can be desktop-based software or cloud-based CAD software. You can choose any one of them based on your business scale and needs.
Cloud-based CAD software generally costs less, and you need to pay as long as you use it. It’s best for growing businesses. However, if you are a large organization, you can purchase desktop-based CAD software as well.
Let’s now look at some of the good options for CAD software in the market for professionals and students.
Bring your products to the market with their realistic view and impact your bottom line via connected product development procedures using Fusion 360 to help your idea come out in a 3D picture. Whether you are a student or a professional, CAD software is for everyone who needs to market their products.
You will get modeling tools with engineered products that ensure you will have everything while you are modeling. Use analysis methods to know whether your product works well as per your imagination.
You can start with creating and editing sketches with the help of dimensions, constraints, and more. Add materials according to your requirement for the direct modeling process, or continue with surface modeling for complex products.
Once you are ready with your product, go for mesh modeling and analyze its motion. You can also set the manufacturing process by adding your final product to the interface. Set the milling operation you want and see how you can manufacture your product from raw materials.
In addition, you can add electronic intelligence through PCB layout, routing capabilities, and schematic design and bring your design to life. You can also find features like data management, collaboration, additive manufacturing, simulation, extensions, and more.
Fusion 360 is free for qualified hobbyist users with limited functionality. Get the full version at $446/year and enjoy every functionality.
CorelCAD is a famous CAD application that is available on Windows and macOS. It is a professional 2D drafting and 3D design program with features like time-saving collaboration, optional automation, project sharing, and customization.
CorelCAD is a simplified software with powerful collection tools of purpose-built architecture, manufacturing, construction, and engineering professionals. It can help in 2D drawing, 3D printing, and 3D design with various design tools.
The significant features of CorelCAD are:
It is easier to conceptualize the design, draft, plan, edit, and layout for construction, manufacturing, and engineering professionals.
You can quickly transform 2D drawings into 3D models with the help of features and advanced tools with a few clicks.
It is a powerful 3D design software that can help in tactile, graphics, and text outputs with collaboration, technical design tasks, etc.
CorelCAD gives the final results based on the project parameters and specifications.
CorelCAD 2021 offers new features like:
Drawing compares the palette with highlighted colors that will help in showcasing the difference between the designs.
Adjust the image quality and file size to fit the requirements and obtain the desired results.
Duplicate patterns and objects to enhance pattern commands with the same perspective.
Streamline the printing process with additional display options.
Obtain custom blocks using dynamic blocks offering to edit and control abilities.
Engineers and designers need the best tool to develop a high-quality product and bring the same to the market to meet customer demands, and SOLIDWORKS is one of the best ones. It helps you create, validate, communicate, manage, and transform your ideas into great design.
It provides you with easy-to-use tools to help you create structures faster and with accuracy. You can use manufacturing checks and cost estimation tools to design for manufacturing and cost. Besides, interact with your teams easily and discuss with the standardized data management tools.
Analyze the product to eliminate errors, if any, and rework that part. Since sharing a product file with others is complex, but with SOLIDWORKS, the process has become easy. After completing the design, save your data securely to the cloud so anyone can access it from any browser.
Connect remotely with your teams and collaboratively design every part to assemble it later in the cloud. You can also create organic, complex, and mechanical designs easily on the cloud to access the design features and data you need while modeling at any time.
Buy the software to get even more features and benefits, starting from 2D modeling to electronic solutions.
Tinkercad is an easy-to-use and free web app that gives power to next-gen engineers, students, and professional designers with the skills for innovation, such as 3D design, coding, and electronics.
From the mind to the desktop screen, unleash the imagination by following some easy steps:
Place the shape you want on the work plane to remove or add material. You can import shapes or use pre-existing ones. Here, shapes are the building blocks of Tinkerpad.
Adjust the shapes by rotating or moving the work plane. Input the perfect dimensions with the ruler and try different angles and views.
Combine all the shapes to get a custom shape.
If you can think, you can make it in Tinkerpad as it helps you in every process, from product models and printable parts to analysis. The 3D design is the first step to start your journey, and you can also simulate electronic processes with circuits. It shows you the path (buttons, wires, and breadboards), and then you can design your circuit.
Tinkerpad not only helps you with the design, but you can also use the code blocks to write programs and allow the software to develop the same for you.
You can also use block-based code to create parametric, 3D shapes, adaptive and dynamic designs. In addition, it lets you turn your 3D model into augmented reality by activating the AR mode and pressing the AR viewer button.
Tinkerpad is free, so you can explore, think, and create without limits and come up with an output.
Get the freedom to design what you want in an open-source parametric 3D modeler with FreeCAD. It helps you create real-life objects of any size, sketch your geometry-constrained 2D shapes, and create 3D models by using the 2D shape as a base.
FreeCAD is a highly customizable, extensible, and multi-platform software. It has many tools to adjust dimensions and the option to choose from many shapes and details so that you can create high-quality production-ready drawings.
To integrate the workflow, you can open different file formats like IGES, STL, DXF, SVG, DAE, IFC, OBJ, STEP, and others. You can also design mechanical components, architecture designs, and many more.
FreeCAD is suitable for students, teachers, professionals, programmers, CAD users, and others. You will also find FEA tools, experimental CFD, dedicated BIM, CAM/CNC workbenches, Geodata, and more.
SketchUp is a full-featured desktop modeler built to convert your imagination into reality. It offers the easiest way to design, document, and communicate your unique ideas in 3D. Work in the 3D space to develop a pattern or shape and add material.
Accuracy is the first word SketchUp uses while you start creating a design. It offers features you will love, including interoperability, customization, extensibility, generating reports, objects, inference, and more.
From formal learning tracks to video tips, SketchUp is always there to help whenever you need it. Discover 3D models for free for your personal use with limited features. Get something more to create precise sketches at $119/year.
Get a portfolio of easy-to-use and affordable software – Solid Edge – that represents all the aspects of the development process, including 3D model, simulation, manufacturing, design management, etc. It combines the simplicity and speed of direct modeling with control and flexibility of parametric design, made possible with synchronous technology.
You will get 3D CAD, assembly design, 3D print, cloud-enabled productivity, and automated drawings. It helps you design better models to complete your projects faster. Solid Edge also includes 2D drafting, modeling(BIM), 3D part design, assembly design, animation, import, export, and more.
Well, this is not the end. Apart from 2D and 3D designs, you will find sheet metal designs, weldment design, plastic part design, basic rendering, jig-fixture design, surface modeling, motion simulation, stress simulation, vibration simulation, and a lot more.
Performing reverse engineering and FEA simulation will add benefit to your process. With Solid Edge, the design of the gear, cam, beam, column, spring, pulley, shaft, etc., is super easy. Moreover, electrical design such as routing, PCB collaboration, tube, and pipe is also easy with Solid Edge.
SOLVESPACE is a free parametric 3D CAD tool that includes modeling 2D, and 3D parts, 3D-printed parts, preparing CAM data, mechanism design, solid geometry, and plane geometry. Get options like extrudes, revolvers, Boolean operations, helixes, single section, export as PDF, SVG, DXF, and more that helps you design a model easily and accurately.
Generate STL or STEP to use CAM software for machining. Simulating spatial and planar linkages with the ball, links, or slide joints is now easy using the constraint solver. Get live dimensions in the drawing sheet and replace hand-solved trigonometry.
Moreover, you will find many features, from assembly and drawing to making a sketch using lines, datum lines, points, rectangles, arcs of a circle, splines, and more. Use constraints to ensure the parts connect well during the assembly and there will be no change in the dimension.
Think, invent, and create from your ideas with BRL-CAD – an open-source platform that you can use for any design purpose for 100% free. It gives you a B-rep kernel and Hybrid CSG with innovative methods for 3D geometry.
BRL-CAD includes high-performance ray-tracing analysis, geometric analysis, interactive geometry editing, geometry libraries, system performance analysis benchmark suite, and more.
It supports Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Solarius, etc. You will also have the freedom of customization according to your needs. In Addition, BRL-CAD does not charge you anything for the update and support.
If you are an innovative thinker, try IRONCAD’s 3D modeling software. It gives you an intuitive platform that shows you the tools you need to compare your 3D model to the real one. It offers many predefined shapes which you can use for a faster and better design process.
You can resize parts by stretching them with handles. Forget about paper, pencil, and eraser; IRONCAD lets you map out your ideas into reality. Use a single application to perform the design processes from concept to production.
Explore design ideas as much as you can and create models dynamically with the help of different shapes, constraints, dimensions, and a lot more. It allows you to access files containing information related to the parts, assemblies, and features from the catalogs to quickly make changes to them whenever you want and be more productive.
For various purposes, you will get different products according to your requirement. Use IRONCAD Draft to convert your 3D model to a 2D drawing and showcase the proper dimensions easily. Analyze your design according to the motion, force, frequency, and more with the help of SimWise Motion for IRONCAD.
Vectary is an online platform for creating and managing 3D designs without design and coding experience. In short, it is no code platform to create interactive 3D designs future ready for Augmented Reality, etc.
Its 3D design studio provides real-time visual feedback and strong materials for refining designs, whether you create or import 2D/3D assets. It offers a quick method for wrapping 3D objects with 2D images to enhance branding, make mockups, and highlight important elements to make your design more authentic.
Recently introduced Animation mode with keyframes on a timeline helps for showcasing processes, modularity, sequence, and direction.
Interact with animated 3D models in real-time
Ensures the accessibility of your 3D content across multiple devices.
Addition of 3D features to preferred tools for improved workflow integration.
Floating user interfaces help explain complex concepts and engage the audience in 3D.
Vectary is user-friendly and web-based, so there is no need to download any software. Users can start creating designs without writing a single line of code, and easy to engage your audience by adding a single link to presentations, websites, or online productivity tools.
The platform is free for up to 10 projects with limited functionalities and capabilities.
Spline is a web-based, real-time, and collaborative 3D design place. It provides complete control over the outcome of the 3D design work by creating 3D objects, editing materials, adding interactivity, and exporting the work.
It’s a real-time platform that helps you collaborate with your team to brainstorm projects or designs. Integrating 3D designs into your web projects using simple code or snippets is easy.
Spline helps to grow boundlessly, enabling teams to organize designs and export images/videos/3D files, model objects with diverse tools, integrate code and manage materials, access templates, control cameras, create web animations, etc.
The platform has introduced AI style transfer that helps to Compose your scene using 3D objects and transform your idea with diverse styles, modifiers, and text prompts. AI integration allows designers to pick a style, apply modifiers, refine it with a prompt, and generate textures with a text prompt.
Real-time collaboration with your team
3D modeling in terms of Parametric objects, polygonal editing, etc.
Users can use Spline free of cost with limited editors and team files and upgrade for extra features and collaboration with their team.
SelfCAD is a cloud-based platform for 3D design with tools like 3D modeling, including sketching, sculpting, rendering, and 3D printing.
Its end-to-end 3D modeling tools and features aid in designing a wide range of designs for various businesses such as freelance designers, animation, game production, the manufacturing industry, education, etc.
All the necessary artistic and technical resources are conveniently consolidated in a single location, enabling the effortless design of a wide range of items, including prototypes, mockups, drawings, and renderings.
STL slicer and Magix fix to smoothen 3D objects and get them ready for 3D printing
Flexible Storage Options for 3D designs
Combines 3D modeling and printing software features and tools for custom design needs.
SelfCAD provides various options to work based on your requirement, such as users can completely work online without downloading, sync online and offline projects, work anytime & anywhere, and even use personal devices to work on projects and save locally. The software can be tested free of cost with limited features.
Third, design software simplifies 3D modeling, enabling users to effortlessly create, animate, and export scenes. With an intuitive interface and user-friendly design tools, it facilitates expressing creative ideas and customizing concepts. Transforming imaginative designs into 3D representations is made easy with this platform.
Additionally, it offers an animation application for the efficient completion of tasks, allowing users to generate videos or photos of their creations within minutes.
Its 3D design platform enables the efficient and effortless generation of 3D animations suitable for various applications such as social media posts, product demonstrations, product manuals, presentations, and 3D videos and photos.
Built-in templates and free assets to build 3D modeling rapidly
Ready presets to create animation easily
Cloud-based rendering for easy and fast export of visuals
Third is a simplified 3D modeling platform with pre-configured options and cloud-based rendering that speeds up the production of high-quality video renderings, reducing waiting times.
Maxon’s Zbrushcoremini is completely free to download and use software for digital sculpting. ZBrushCoreMini simplifies sculpting for aspiring artists with a user-friendly interface and a variety of digital sculpting brushes.
It offers basic shapes like spheres and blocks, making material addition and removal easy for 3D creations.
After completing your creation, sharing it with others easily in the iMage3D format is effortless. It looks like a regular 2D image on websites, but ZBrushCoreMini users can view it fully in 3D.
The platform also allows exporting of 3D models for physical 3D printing.
The Symmetry button facilitates simultaneous sculpting on both sides of the model.
Sculptris Pro enables the automatic addition and removal of polygons.
VDM brushes swiftly incorporate 3D characteristics into your sculpting.
iMage3D GIF and iMage3D PNG formats provide full 3D model viewing for images.
ZBrush works well on Windows and macOS. It performs efficiently on modern computer systems, regardless of graphics card specs, due to its processor-based engine.
I hope the above CAD software tools help you create beautiful designs with accuracy and ease so you can get them approved faster. It can help you quickly move the designs to the production phase and shorten the product life cycle to accelerate product delivery with quality.
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