CAD software is an indispensable tool that product design engineers use to develop new products and improve existing ones. As a product design engineer, you might be constantly looking for the best CAD software for better efficiency and to produce your best work.
With so many options out there, it can be hard to pick a good CAD software, especially if you usually make things work with outdated software that doesn’t support the latest features and functionalities. To help you, we’ve come up with a comprehensive list of the best CAD software available today, so you can pick the right tool for you!
What Is Computed-Aided Design (CAD)?
The acronym CAD actually refers to two different but related things: Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing. In both cases, computers work together with humans to create objects and perform tasks that would be difficult or impossible for people to do without assistance from technology.
CAD Software Top Picks for 2022
Here’s a list of the best CAD software for specific functions on the market today.
Best CAD Software for 2D and 3D Modeling and Printing
Fusion 360 is one of only a few products that support both 2D and 3D modeling. It allows you to get even more out of your investment in any 3D printer. Plus, if you have experience with Inventor or Solidworks, you can use your files seamlessly in Fusion 360. If you don’t, no worries because Fusion 360 includes tons of industry-standard templates that industry leaders created.
- Accelerated 2D drawings
- Flexibility for effortless design and 3D modeling
- Integrated CAD+CAM software
- Full-featured printed circuit board (PCB) design software
- Single product data management software
- Real-time collaboration with other designers
- Ability to set up manufacturing and material constraints
- Monthly Plan – USD 60
- *Yearly Plan – USD 495 (USD 42 / month)
- *Three-Year Plan – USD 1,335 (USD 38 / month)
*Fusion 360 offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on annual plans.
AutoCAD is a trusted software for both 2D and 3D printing. Its connected design experience makes it so great, with all of its features and tools applicable on any device. You just need to download AutoCAD mobile app or go use a desktop web browser.
- Add-on apps and application programming interface (API) for customization
- Direct feedback to a drawing (DWG) file
- Automates counting blocks
- 3D navigation and rendering
- 2D drafting, annotation, and drawing
- Monthly Plan – USD 220
- *Yearly Plan – USD 1,775 (USD 148 / month)
- *Three-Year Plan – USD 5,060 (USD 141 / month)
*AutoCAD offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on annual plans.
Rhino 7 is a versatile CAD software for 3D modeling since it works on Mac, Windows, and iOS. It is good as well for iPad, Wacom, and other design tablets. You can create curved lines and organic shapes in this powerful modeler for accurate graphical representations. It also comes with better presentation tools to stream the workflow. You can also utilize the history recording feature to edit and update the curves and product.
- Can add dimensions at the viewpoint
- Importing of files from various sources, including SketchUp, STL, and AutoCAD
- 3D model control points display
- Workflow documentation
- API refinement
- Commercial Use – USD 995
- Student or Faculty Use – USD 195
- School Use – USD 975
Best CAD Software for Beginner Engineers
TinkerCAD is an online tool that lets you create 3D models using a drag-and-drop interface. It is simple enough to learn even if you’ve never used CAD software before. Educators use TinkerCAD widely to teach students because it is intuitive, fast, and easy to use.
- 3D printing services
- Easy tutorial videos
- Can add light and movement to design with electric circuits
- Drag-and-drop for code blocking
Best CAD Software for Designing Real-Life Products
Though FreeCAD is relatively new on the scene, it has quickly become one of our favorite pieces of computer-assisted drafting software. It is designed for three-dimensional modeling in mind. It has a ton of features that help product design engineers create and modify products with high accuracy.
FreeCAD is a flexible and extensible multi-platform software that works well with Mac, Linux, and Windows. It can also seamlessly integrate open file formats, such as DAE, STEP, DXF, SVG, into your workflow.
- Boundary Representation (BRep) objects
- C++ coded core functionality
- Add-on workbenches
- 2D CAD drafting
- Architectural or BIM modeling
- Robot simulation model
Best CAD Software for Professional Use
Solidworks is a three-dimensional CAD software program. Designers, engineers, and manufacturers use it because of its range of mechanical design validations and reverse engineering. So, if you need something that can produce models for both the planning and production phases of a project, Solidworks is your best CAD software choice.
- Stress analysis and data management tools
- Cloud-connected CAD
- Cost estimation tools
- View of product performance
- Real-time product development information for the marketing team
- Cross-team collaboration
- Commercial – for companies of different sizes
- Academia – an all-inclusive resource for teaching 3D CAD and data management
- Research – an all-in-one solution for research projects
- Students – to help students kickstart their CAD careers
- Entrepreneurs and Startups – offers training and co-marketing resources for free
Best CAD Software for Efficient Product Development
With Creo, you can create and modify your design in a step-by-step process. Each stage is reviewed before they get simulated. There’s also an integrated visual 3D render and simulation reports for energy efficiency, cost, and performance analysis. Overall, Creo is a complete package equipped with the tools for accelerating quality product design.
- 3D parametric solid modeling
- Technical illustrations
- Generative design extension for high-quality, low-cost products
- Finite element analysis and simulation
- Schematic design and functionality
- Topology optimization technologies
Packages start at USD 2,480. You may choose to get started with Creo’s 30-day trial plan, and then, upgrade to any one of the following plans:
- Design Essentials
- Design Advanced
- Design Advanced Plus
- Design Premium
- Design Premium Plus
Best CAD Software for Multi-Platform Product Development
Catia is a leading multi-platform product design software that caters to CAM, CAD, or CAE in the automotive and aerospace industries. Its interface is easy to use and serves as an excellent springboard for modeling everyday products according to real-time behavior. Catia comprises 3D modeling, simulation, social, collaborative, and information intelligence applications, among others.
- Online collaboration for 3D modeling and designs
- Data efficiently during product development
- A toolset to meet the needs of different companies
- 3D model change tracking
You get a free demo with Catia’s free trial plan option. You may also browse Catia’s portfolio online to buy roles and get started straight away. However, due to Catia’s multi-platform use, you will have to contact their sales team to request a quote to meet your requirements.
Best CAD Software for Intuitive Mechanical and Electrical Design
Solid Edge enables engineers and designers to collaborate on 3D mechanical designs with 3D electrical systems. It includes mechanical and electrical design options integrated with 2D DWG drafting. Additionally, Solid Edge’s synchronous technology can help you design products more accurately, intelligently, and efficiently.
- Designs with flow and structural simulation integration
- High-quality illustrations
- AI-powered user interface
- Lightning-fast reverse engineering
- Cloud-based collaboration
- 2D layout of industrial control panels
- Searchable post processor database
- Solid Edge Design and Drafting – USD 75 / month
- Solid Edge Foundation – USD 185 / month
- Solid Edge Classic – USD 230 / month
- Solid Edge Premium – USD 329 / month
Best CAD Software for Real-Time Product Design
OnShape completely changes how you interact with your computer, as you can create your design and share it instantly. Being the next-generation cloud-based software, it’s been aptly named the “Google doc file for CAD.” This revolutionary software turns your computer into a 3D platform that is intuitive, instant, and flexible — all while running in your web browser without installing any software on your hard drive.
- Business and engineering integrations
- Data access control and monitoring
- Notifications and alerts for workflow
- Auditable and revertible change logs and history
- Simultaneous sheet metal tools
- Simultaneous editing with secure sharing
- Standard Plan – USD 1,500 / year
- Professional Plan – USD 2,100 / year
- Enterprise Plan – contact OnShape sales team
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Contact us today, and let’s start designing and building your organization’s future!