Computer-Aided Design as known as CAD is the use of computer technology to assist in engineering design. Engineers or designers use computers to generate and compute a design and study.
CAD technology is widely used in a variety of industry such as such as manufacturing, architecture, engineering, aerospace, automotive, fashion,…etc. Many CAD applications also are able to do an advanced engineering in numerical simulation such as finite element analysis, motion study, computer fluid dynamics, thermal analysis, …etc.
CAD software is a part of engineering tools. So, here is a shortlist of 30 CAD applications with the basic use and particularity of the software, which are:
- Autodesk AutoCAD
- Open SCAD
- Autodesk Inventor
- Autodesk Fusion360
- Siemens NX
- Siemens Solid Edge
- Siemens Parasolid
- PTC Creo
- Geomagic DesignX
- Autodesk Revit
- Autodesk BIM 360
- Vectorworks Architect
AutoCAD is part of Autodesk products. In the beginning, AutoCAD is a 2D CAD-based software that allows engineers to create technical drawings, drafts, floorplan, and blueprints. Nowadays, it is still popular with its powerful tools for 2D drafting with the standard extension files dwg files which stand as drawing, mostly used in CAD. Moreover, we can create a 3D model in AutoCAD.
AutoCAD is available as a desktop application on Windows and Mac, and as a mobile application on Android and iOs.
OpensCAD is a 3D modelling software totally different from AutoCAD or TurboCAD or LibreCAD. Instead of an interactive graphic interface, you will create a design by programming. One of the key advantages of OpensCAD is the ability of creating a very complex design using parametric design, a method that allows user to play with mathematical expression rather than manually adjusting geometry.
OpensCAD is available as a desktop application on Windows, Linux, and Mac.
Inventor is part of Autodesk products. It is one of the most popular, versatile, and powerful 3D CAD applications for creating mechanical designs, simulation, and prototyping. It can provide a very details technical drawing.
Inventor is available as a desktop application on Windows and Mac with a variety of versions including basic level, ultimate, and professional options.
Like Inventor, fusion360 is part of Autodesk products. It is a 3D CAD, CAM, and CAE software. One of its particularities is the existence of data management capabilities for team. Furthermore, Fusion360 is one of the best software for reverse engineering.
Inventor is a cloud-based application on Windows and Mac available in Free and Paid versions.
Like Inventor and fusion360, Solidworks is a powerful 3D CAD software. It is marketed by the Dassault system. Knowledge of Solidworks is one of the most demanded skills, especially for Junior Designer. One particularity of Solidworks is the wide range of add-ins that covers almost all industries such as Solidworks Electrical, Solidworks Plastic, Solidworks PCB, Solidworks Composer, Solidworks simulation, …etc. There are a lot of Solidworks contributors also who provide Add-ins to simplify work using the application. For example, Power Surfacing for reverse engineering, SolidSteel for structural design, …etc.
Solidworks is a desktop application on Windows. There are a lot of version you can choose including premium, professional, an standard version. You can test it for free. You can see a guide here
Like Inventor , fusion360, and Solidworks, Catia is a powerful 3D CAD software. CATIA stands for Computer-Aided Three Interactive Application by the Dassault system. Catia is commonly used in automotive with its powerful Class A surface tool. Besides, it is a very good application for Reverse Engineering.
Catia is a desktop application on Windows. But you can use Both Solidworks, and Catia in 3D experience with other Dassault system products. It can be accessible on-Cloud once you have internet and a browser.
Like Inventor and Solidworks, NX is one of the best versatile 3D CAD. NX, formerly known as Unigraphics NX or Next Generation Design is part of Siemens Product. It is often used in Aerospace and automotive because of its powerful surface tools. NX also has very good features for 3D design and transformation that rarely does it exist in other 3D software.
You can only use NX on windows
Like NX and Solid Edge , Parasolid is a 3D CAD Application. Nowadays, it is also part of Siemens Products. It is a kernel-based application. Parasolid is integrated by more than 130 software vendors with its extension files x_t and x_b data format. Parasolid can handle complex and large models with high precision.
Parasolid is a windows desktop application.
TopSolid is one of a famous CAD, CAM and CAE product. Personally, it is the first 3D CAD I have used 15 years ago. It is very good for mechanical design and machine design with the advanced tools of motion study.
Top Solid is available as a desktop application on Windows.
Ansys Spaceclaim is a 3D modelling software by ANSYS. It is a 3D CAD software with a direct modeling style. You can design something simple to a complex range, ready for numerical study.
SpaceClaim is only available on Windows.
Onshape is a Cloud-native based application for CAD and PDM. It is part of PTC program. As long as you have internet connection and browser, you will have access to Onshape for free.
Moreover, you can use Onshape with its mobile app for Android and iOS. And it is user-friendly.
FreeCAD is one of the most use parametric modeling software. The main reason why many people use FreeCAD is that it is a free Application. You can use FreeCAD for industrial as well as Architectural design, BIM, and even Basic FEA and CFD.
It is a free open-source application available on windows, linux and Mac.
Revit is part of Autodesk products. It is Building Information Modeling stands for BIM. And it is part of CAD application for building, Architecture, HVAC, …etc
Revit is available as a desktop application on Windows
If you need to draw an electrical circuit for your project, Proficad is one of the best tools for that. Like Solidworks Electric, it is an Electrical CAD software. It is designed for drawing electrical and electronic diagrams, schematics, and circuit.
This application is available on windows.