CAD software is an essential part of modern designers’ toolkit, but picking the right one can be a difficult task. You have to take into account which one provides the most creative freedom, the most varied tools, and that those tools work in ways you want them to work. An interface that the designer can easily navigate when creating their project is a big plus. Different software has different 3D rendering capabilities as well. And last but not least, the price is a big part of the decision process. Here are some examples of good CAD software.
1. SketchUp Pro
With its simple interface and large icons, SketchUp Pro is one of the easier programs that you can use on this list. It is compatible with both Windows and Mac systems. It offers a variety of tools for creating photorealistic 2D designs and 3D models, as well as adding texture to your creations. Another good feature is customizing and rearranging tool palettes so you can quickly access your favorites.
While it may seem like the perfect beginners’ choice, SketchUp Pro is a bit lacking in the learning department, as it lacks both a wall tool and house wizard. This might slow down the learning process for those getting familiar with it. It’s not the most expensive CAD software, but not the cheapest either. Expect to pay around seven hundred dollars for the program, or more if you prefer the technical support version.
2. SolidWorks 2018
A creation of Dassault Systèmes, the makers of CATIA, SolidWorks 2018 is a powerful CAD program that gets a lot of bang for its buck. For such a high-end program it’s relatively easy to use and gives you tons of features. The programs’ Safety wizard lets you examine 3D designs for any structural weaknesses so you can improve it before rolling out a prototype physical design. It can save you tons of money when testing projects.
It’s not available on Apple systems, so Mac users will have to look elsewhere for CAD software. It also might cost you a couple thousand dollars a year in a subscription that includes technical support. Students can look forward to paying at a discount of about a hundred dollars, but you have to contact a SolidWorks salesperson for that.
- AutoCAD 2019
Without a doubt the most popular choice, AutoCAD 2019 is often the go-to program for both beginners and experts. It features unique visual tools like changing the transparency of specific elements in your design and photorealistic renderings that help you and your coworkers better realize your vision. The 3D tools are easy to use and produce life-like results. Commands from the command line let your project move more smoothly.
There are a lot of tools available, so getting to know them all might take a while and prove to be a difficult task. The good news is, the AutoDesk community and forums are very active and produce tons of tutorials for different levels of work. Mac users rejoice as an Autocad subscription is available on Apple systems as well.
4. TurboCAD Deluxe 2018
A great piece of beginner software, TurboCAD Deluxe 2018 has a low price and relatively powerful tools at its’ disposal. It has customizable toolbars so rearranging them is pretty easy to do. The 3D rendering capabilities aren’t top notch, but do impressively well for the price and can work in making lifelike designs. Hatching and control lighting effects are available for 3D models and exporting is a breeze since the files are all compatible with AutoCAD, SketchUp, and others.
The lack of a command tool is a bit of a setback for the program that might feel limiting to the more experienced users. The user guide is built into the program, but you have to find information relating to the deluxe version separately.
There are lots of things to take into consideration when buying the right design software, so it might seem like a daunting task sorting through them all. Key things to look at are differences in price and 3D modeling capabilities, as well as a user-friendly interface for both beginners and experts. Make sure to check them all out before deciding the right one for you.