If you are designing or drafting something, you have probably used CAD software.
There are many types of CAD programs, but some are better than others. Some people might think that AutoCAD is the best CAD software for designers and drafters to use, while others may prefer something else.
In this article, I will discuss five of the top design and engineering software for those looking to make their designs come to life!
What Is CAD Software?
CAD stands for “computer-aided design”. The first CAD software was developed nearly 50 years ago called “Sketchpad.” CAD software allows you to create technical drawings that you can share with other people.
Designers, drafters, architects, and engineers often use CAD programs. It helps them draft construction documents or visualize ideas through photorealistic renderings.
High-quality CAD software creates a database of designs for manufacturing, enhances design quality, documentation, and designer productivity. It speeds up your production process while maintaining quality. It makes your clients happy and satisfied.
Why Use CAD Software For Design Purposes?
The advantage of using a CAD program over a traditional drafting technique is that you can quickly produce a drawing. CAD software can simulate how your design will perform in the real world. You can use custom settings to customize each object, such as manufacturing or dimensional accuracy.
Best CAD Software for You
There are a variety of different CAD programs. Some people might prefer AutoCAD or SolidWorks, while others may like Creo Parametric and Inventor. The best way to determine which one fits your needs is to test them yourself because these programs can be expensive for personal use. Also, there are desktop-based and cloud-based CAD software. You may pick any of them based on your company’s size and requirements.
Features To Look For In a CAD Program
When choosing a CAD program, you should consider the following features:
- Modern and Intuitive design for easy user interface
- Programming language compatibility
- Associativity, a guarantee of reliability
- Choice in design methods.
Good CAD software offers three design methods:
“Bottom-up” design: This is the most basic method, which involves first building each element separately and then putting them together.
“Top-down” design: Conversely, the designer starts with the constraint, then deduces the assemblies and parts.
“In-place” design: a variation of top-down design where you design parts with their assembly context. The designer then has the advantage of simplicity for the creation of connecting parts, in particular:
- Choice in design methods
- Smart components
- Design documentation tools
- A detailed and standardized drawing
- Change management tools
- Cloud or desktop-based
- 3D Presentations
- Smart tools
- Preset models
- Licensing and Pricing
Top 5 CAD Software To Use In 2022
AutoCAD is the most popular CAD software developed by Autodesk.
It was one of the first CAD programs distributed in the market in 1982. AutoCAD has established itself as a well-known CAD tool across many sectors. Users frequently say that it is difficult to use for 3D modeling, but it is great for 2D drafting.
Professionals with previous programming knowledge will benefit the most from this software. You can easily convert the STL files to 3D printing. Since 2010, AutoCAD has been released on mobile and web-app as well, called AutoCAD 360.
AutoCAD allows people to import and use data from PDF files when they open and export them. Data may also be imported, processed, and shared using AutoCAD. It is possible to import 2D geometric shapes, photos, and TrueType typefaces. AutoCAD includes an SHF text recognition tool that converts SHF-font text to a text object.
AutoCAD includes a powerful 2D drawing tool that allows users to transform Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and table data into drawings. It’s possible to import data and formulas from Microsoft Excel. AutoCAD adjusts the 2D table if the user has updated the Excel file, such as adding rows and columns.
- 3D Modeling and Visualization
- Solid, Surface, and Mesh Modeling
- Import 3D Models
- Dynamic Blocks
- 3D Navigation
- Section Planes
- 2D Drafting, Drawing, and Annotation
- Express Tools
Cost: Autodesk offers 3 payment options:
- $220/paid monthly
- $1,420/paid annually
- $3,836/paid every 3 years
Also, they have a free trial you can download from this link.
DraftSight is a free CAD software developed by Dassault Systemes. With DraftSight, you may convert 2D drafting to 3D modeling and vice versa in order to improve and optimize designs.
This CAD software can be used by architects, engineers, construction service providers, designers, educators, and hobbyists. It does not have any compatibility with AutoCAD. It may be used on Windows or Mac operating systems.
- An intuitive user interface to make the program easy to learn for new users.
- Sheet List Tables: You may adjust the look and structure of your table by adding any of the built-in characteristics, or you can create your own custom properties.
- The “Pack and Go” feature allows you to send an image file, and XREF, a key font, or any file related to DWG to someone outside your organization.
- Sheet Set Manager allows you to collect sheets from multiple drawings.
- Draw tools, Modify tools, polyline editing, layer preview, Hairline option for printout.
Cost: DraftSight Professional for 2D CAD is $199 per year. DraftSight Premium includes all features of Pro plus 3D Capabilities is $499 per year.
You can download their free trial from this link.
LibreCAD is a mature and feature-rich 2D-CAD program for Windows, Apple, and Linux with a fantastic experience. It provides open-source and GPLv2, developed by an experienced team and supported by a great community. This app is available in over 30 different languages. Free to download from their website.
- Save/Open: DXF, CXF, LFF
- Import: DWG, JWW, SHP, PIC
- Export: SVG, PDF, ICO, JPG, PNG, DDS, TIF, BMP, Others…
- Tool Categories: line, polyline, spline, circle, ellipse, text, dimension
- Drawing: advanced snapping system, blocks, hatches, layers, templates
- UI: custom toolbars and menus, movable widgets, command-line
SOLIDWORKS software has been around since the mid-nineties. There are 9.3 million active users in 80 countries. Developed and marketed by Dassault Systemes, SOLIDWORKS is used to design products and components from scratch or to improve on existing designs.
There are many features in this program, including design validation tools and reverse engineering. Solidworks uses a system of NURBS. This system allows you to create very detailed curvatures.
It uses dimensional sketching instead of polygonal modeling. Industrial sectors and product design rely on this software. This software was the first product to provide an accessible 3D modeling platform which changed the way engineers could bring creations to life.
SOLIDWORKS is a parametric design CAD software. Parametric design is a process that clarifies the relationship between design intent and design response.
- Assembly modeling allows you to create parts as assemblies and then edit the individual parts without affecting the rest of the assembly
- The in-context design allows you to create a single model with multiple variations
- Scalable automation capabilities allow for faster and more powerful programming
- Simulation tools offer various ways to test your designs
- Visualization options include rendering, photorealistic images, multiphysics simulation, and motion analysis
Cost: One standalone license is $3,995. The annual subscription service price, which covers technical support, upgrades, and more for than one year, is $1,295. They offer a 15-day trial account so you can confidently evaluate the software.
5. Fusion 360
Fusion 360 is a cloud-based design platform for product development. It’s easy-to-use and collaborative CAD software that allows you a factory or full digital workflow, from idea to production.
This app is available in over 30 different languages, so you can globally communicate with your team members.
Everyone who needs to market their products may use this 3D drafting software. To determine whether your product meets your expectations, apply “analytical methods” to see if it lives up to your requirements. You may begin by drawing and editing sketches using dimensions, constraints, and more.
It contains many design options, including freeform, solid, and mesh modeling. The developers continue to update features, making it better with each new release. Fusion 360 runs on Windows, Mac, and in your web browser.
- Direct Modeling
- Surface Modeling
- Parametric Modeling
- Mesh Modeling
- Freeform Modeling
- PCB Design Integration
- Sheet Metal
Cost: Free Trial from their website. Monthly $60, Yearly $396, or $1,068 for 3 years.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to find the best CAD software. I have done leg work for you with an overview on how to get started with finding CAD software to suit your design. I have listed five top-quality CAD programs in various price ranges.
If you are a beginner or professional looking for something more advanced, this article will help you make an informed decision. If there’s anything else missing in the summary of features, please contact us. We will be glad to help you further.
So, what are you waiting for? Buy one of the above CAD software and get technical drawing and designing! The world is yours.
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