Designers and engineers use computer-aided design (CAD) when creating two or three-dimensional models as a form of modern drafting. There are different programs available for free online or ones you can purchase to help you improve your digital drafting skills. Understanding the distinct features and benefits of different CAD programs can help you determine which one may help your career development.

In this article, Pritish Kumar Halder discusses CAD software, list 10 programs for you to consider and provide some tips for helping you choose the right software for your requirements.

What is CAD software?

CAD software is a software tool for creating digital drafting images through an automated process. These programs are helpful for engineers and designers to create documentation, explore ideas they have constructed in their minds and make their ideas visual. They can use these visual ideas to simulate what the final product in real life may look like when it is going to be constructed. The programs allow them to move around the image at all angles and add colour to them, so they can fully understand what they are creating before committing to a project.

10 CAD programs

Here is a list of 10 CAD software programs you may consider:

1. TinkerCAD

TinkerCAD is a beginner-level program that is free for individuals to use online, primarily for three-dimensional design. The key feature of this program is that it allows the users to learn and understand the block-building concept, which can help create models of basic shapes. Another feature of this program is a library of shapes users can use to learn how to manipulate objects. This can help your career development because it is a user-friendly interface designed to educate you on how to use the basics of CAD.

2. 3D Builder

3D Builder is a free program with a simplified interface for beginner CAD users. Some features of this program include a library where users can use pre-made models to learn how to manipulate and scale. You can use this program to help your career development because this software system is compatible with three-dimensional printing. Understanding how to use three-dimensional modelling and printing may impress employers when you are conducting your job search.

3. BlocksCAD

BlocksCAD is a beginner-level program that is free for individuals to use, primarily for educational purposes. Developers designed the interface so all individuals can use it and then later use the models they created in this program and open them in a more advanced version of BlocksCAD. Some features of this tool to help individuals learn are representing the commands for the development of objects and their transformations with colours. This can help your career development because you can learn the basics of CAD that you can later transfer to a more advanced program.

4. FreeCAD

FreeCAD is a free program for professionals who are just beginning using CAD programs and it uses parametric three-dimensional modelling to make editing easier for users. Some features this program offers users include the ability to go into the model’s history and edit the parameters, which can change your model type. This program can help your career development because it works more as a training tool than a professional CAD system. This means you can learn about the basics while using this program to help you understand more advanced programs later.

5. Solidworks

Solidworks is a program designed for professionals who can pay a one-time fee for the license of the program to use for three-dimensional designs based on parametric models. Some features of this program include reverse engineering and design validation, often for industrial objects. An additional feature of this program is that it imitates curves in flat objects and uses dimensional sketching. This can help your career development because these features are specific to this program and help with resizing images, which can help you revise your drafts for your clients or manager.

6. Creo

Creo is for intermediate professionals who can pay a one-time fee for the license of the program, specifically for product designing. You can also use this program with a 30-day free trial. The features this program offers users include parametric, thermal and freestyle surface generation. You can use this program to help your career development because it can help you with your development calculations. When you understand how to calculate your developments, you can create more models to scale accurately, which may impress your manager or clients.

7. Wings 3D

Wings 3D is a helpful tool for beginners and experts in CAD for open-source with three-dimensional modelling. Some benefits of this program are that the interface is user-friendly and has a wide range of tools for professionals to use for creating their drafting images. This program can help your career development because it has a mapping facility that allows you to add texture to your images, which is a tool you can learn to use with this program. When you learn this skill, you can apply it to your work in the future.

8. 3D Slash

3D Slash is a software program designed for individuals who are just beginning their education in CAD and educators often use this software in their classes to teach. The benefits of this software are that it educates the users on the basics of three-dimensional modelling and the interface is user-friendly. It is a game-style program to make learning CAD engaging for students while they learn how to sculpt shapes and manipulate the models. This can help your career development if you are just learning about how CAD operates.

9. Sketchup

Sketchup is a more advanced CAD software program that professionals primarily use in the architecture, interior design and engineering industries. Some features it offers users include an open library with three-dimensional models to use. This program is free for professionals and students, but the free version is a web platform. This program can help your career development because it has more advanced tools than other programs designed for professionals in their beginning stages of CAD. You can use the library it offers to learn new skills based on the models it provides.

10. AutoCAD

AutoCAD is a professional-level drafting program for individuals to use for a monthly or yearly fee. For students, they offer a free version of the program to download. The program mainly focuses on two-dimensional drafting. Some benefits of using this program are that you can learn how to use macros and scripts, which can help you in your career if your work requires you to use this program. Additionally, it can help you advance your career by learning how to use the program to convert files if you want to use three-dimensional printing with the software.

Tips for choosing the right CAD software program

Here are some tips you can use to help you pick the right CAD program for your requirements:

. Look at the learning materials. If you want to learn more about CAD when using one of the software, consider the learning support the program may offer its users. Check to see if it offers tutorials, online support communities or training materials.

. Think about your skill level. Your skill level, if you are a beginner or an expert at drafting, can determine the program you may want to choose. If you are an expert in your skill, you may want to pick a program with advanced capabilities that can challenge you to continue growing your skills.

. Consider your career requirements. The type of software program you choose can depend on what your current career requires of you and where you want to see your career continue growing. Choose a program that allows you to learn drafting skills you can use in the future, but that can also help you accomplish your current tasks at work.

. Analyse the program’s features. While there are similar features in several CAD programs, there are some tools that offer distinct features that might be more helpful to your career development. You may choose a program with a cloud-based system if you want a parametric or a direct modelling software system.

. Determine your budget. Determining your budget is a helpful way to start when choosing a CAD program because there are options available online for free that can help you accomplish your tasks and help you learn the basics of drafting. There are also programs you can pay for that offer more advanced options that can help you further your education on drafting.