CR4® - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion®


Previous in Forum: Open Source Software for Windows 8.1   Next in Forum: Computer CPU Meter
Close
Close
Close
23 comments
Guru
Technical Fields - Project Managers & Project Engineers - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Midwestern United States
Posts: 830
Good Answers: 73

CAD Software Alternatives

10/30/2017 3:43 PM

I'd like to discuss people's exposure and opinions to alternatives to mainstream CAD software.

I do design work on the side - for both fun and, due to supporting projects I did while a self-employed contractor, work.

But, the current subscription-only model and elevated price tag of the mainstream option I've been using since the early 90's has me really turned off. My current multi-year rate plan is set to expire and - considering they don't offer multi-year discounts anymore - I'm seeking solid options to evaluate.

Respecting the site's rule, I've avoided stating any specific brands at this point for fear of making it more of a commercial post that is not presently in the commercial space. Although I have no intention of making this an ad, it's easy enough to be vague with this initial post.

My current, and soon to be former, platform(s) are the baseline flagship 2D product (the more robust version as opposed to the lighter version) and the 3D product. Make no mistake, they have served me well over the years but as a single user, their subscription model is not sustainable for me anymore. If my usage was higher during a monthly cycle, and could be zero during off months - it might be. But at 6 to 10 hours per week, every week - I'm paying for full-time utilization.

Anyway - basic search has commenced and I'm putting together a list of potentials to check out. What I'm searching for with this post is experienced feedback from people that have been using alternative solutions over an extended period and can speak more detailed regarding their experiences: developer support, how the platform kept up with OS evolution, bugs, cross compatibility (import/export to varying formats), etc.

For context - my work mostly resides in the industrial machine design sector with focus in the mechanical discipline. Some facility layout, industrial engineering, process maps, etc - but not much.

Any experienced feedback and suggestions will be graciously received.

Thanks, JavaHead

__________________
Reuters - Investigators found that the recent thread derailment in CR4 was caused by over-weight creatures of lore and request that membership DON'T FEED THE TROLLS.
Register to Reply
User-tagged by 1 user
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru
Safety - Hazmat - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - Old Hand

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 13428
Good Answers: 152
#1

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

10/30/2017 4:31 PM

I tried some of the free software suites, but was no heavy user, and did not like the learning curve on the ones I tried this year. I went back to using Excel objects.

__________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just build a better one.
Register to Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Engineering Fields - Piping Design Engineering - New Member

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Richland, WA, USA
Posts: 19977
Good Answers: 749
#2

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

10/30/2017 7:03 PM

At work ~1990-2015, I used AutoCAD® Releases 2, 9, and 12 (employer paid);
Personally ~1995-current, I have used 3 correctly purchased/licensed AutoCAD LT® issues. For both company and self, I have been satisfied with those.

Toward the end of my last job, the company purchased a version of TurboCAD®. I didn't get to use it much, and it differed from AutoCAD® enough to be a learning-curve issue. Over time, though, it would have become manageable and probably intermediate in capability between full and LT AutoCAD®.

I haven't had any experience with DoubleCAD®, but it is commonly mentioned as a free option.

If possible, find someone who already has whatever program of interest, and try it out. Look for learning-curve questions and compatibility with what you already know.

__________________
In vino veritas; in cervisia carmen; in aqua E. coli.
Register to Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Project Managers & Project Engineers - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Midwestern United States
Posts: 830
Good Answers: 73
#3
In reply to #2

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

10/30/2017 8:35 PM

Yeah, AutoCAD® and Inventor® have been my mainstay for a very long time but I no longer have a perpetual license.

Getting ready to start evaluating:

https://www.bricsys.com/en-intl/

http://brlcad.org/

http://www.progesoft.com/

http://www.rhino3d.com/

https://www.turbocad.com/

__________________
Reuters - Investigators found that the recent thread derailment in CR4 was caused by over-weight creatures of lore and request that membership DON'T FEED THE TROLLS.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Surrey BC Canada
Posts: 1363
Good Answers: 31
#4

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

10/30/2017 11:39 PM

I don't like the "rented" software model at all.

That goes for Microsoft, Autocad, Acronis, Rockwell, etc.

Last version I fully licensed was Autocad 2000i. I have been able to "patch it" to run on Windows 7. It does everything I need (mostly 2D electrical schematics and a dabbling of mechanical dwgs - and I can still use a drafting board!).

As I run into my retirement years the rent-a-software is not viable.

I do not like storing my data on the web either - it becomes ransomed - if you don't pay it disappears!

I guess so much of our personal history is going to be simply lost to the ether.

Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: BHOPAL, INDIA
Posts: 182
Good Answers: 16
#22
In reply to #4

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

11/12/2017 10:49 AM

I have also Autocad 2000. Is it possible for you to let me know how to "patch it up" so that I may run it in my Windows 7 (64 bit). Thanks.

Register to Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 14
Good Answers: 2
#5

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

10/31/2017 1:11 AM

Bought TurboCAD 16 last year for like $250 and it's good enough to do basic 2D and 3D stuff. Tutorials were ok. Learning curve but minimal. Only issue was it wouldn't run right on my Windows10 MS Surface 3 tablet so loaded it onto my old windows 7 Viao laptop (2011) and upgraded the machine with max possible RAM chips (8MB). A bit finicky when doing detailed 3D rendering, but for line drawings, good enough to visualize 3D space etc.

Using external 32inch flat-screen monitor via HDMI helps a lot instead of the old 13" lappy screen

Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Old New Member

Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: South east U.K.
Posts: 3311
Good Answers: 81
#6

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

10/31/2017 5:33 AM

I use AutoCad & Inventor, the company has them on subscription. One of the universities we collaborate with uses the open source FreeCAD &, although I haven't used it myself, we have incorporated models generated in FreeCAD which seem to be as good as ones from Inventor. The university people using FreeCAD seemed to pick it up pretty quickly.

__________________
I didn't have a really important life, but at least it's been funny (Lemmy Kilminster 1945-2015)
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Hemel Hempstead, UK
Posts: 4135
Good Answers: 230
#7

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

10/31/2017 6:24 AM

I've been a TurboCAD user for years, but, my requirements are not very sophisticated.

When I get forced into upgrading I've never spent more than about £20 / $30: I always go for a version about 2 years old and normally go for the "deluxe" version.

Here's a chart comparing the latest versions.

I have to use AutoCAD occasionally at work: to me it's the "word" of CADs: it's just not intuitive and when you use help it always tells you everything you already know, and, fails to tell you how to do something.

To be fair both TurboCAD and AutoCAD suffer from having there roots in 2D, and have never really broken away.

If it's really mainly 2D you want then the people who make TurboCAD do a free AutoCAD lite lookalike called doubleCAD.

I have played with Rhino in the long distant past: it's very intuitive for 3D stuff, mainly because it normally display four views simultaneously.

One of the advantages of FreeCAD is that it's written in Python (I've never written any software myself but I'm sure I could get to grips with it if I needed to) and is completely open source so if it doesn't do something you want you can enhance it.

When I get the time I'm going to try to migrate to FreeCAD.

__________________
We are alone in the universe, or, we are not. Either way it's incredible... Adapted from R. Buckminster Fuller/Arthur C. Clarke
Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 118
Good Answers: 1
#19
In reply to #7

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

11/03/2017 9:11 PM

I have just now tried to get into the Double Cad site, what a shemozzle.

It will not accept the email address, where the rest of the world gets in first go. It will not accept the fact that I am retired, a hobbyist, nor anything else.

Is it just because I am an Aussie.? Or is that website a load of hoo-haa.?

I only draw perhaps 2 circuits a year and make my own P.C.B's, therefore I do not need a top end program costing $hundreds. I would like a nice no nonsense program that is free, or nearly free.

I don't mind a one off payment of $20-$50 for a small prog. that does the job.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Hemel Hempstead, UK
Posts: 4135
Good Answers: 230
#21
In reply to #19

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

11/06/2017 6:13 AM

This thread is about mechanical CAD.

For schematic capture and board layout, I'd look at KiCAD and DesignSpark

http://kicad-pcb.org/

https://www.rs-online.com/designspark/pcb-software

Watch out because RS also do a mechanical CAD also called DesignSpark (which may be worth mentioning for the rest of this thread).

__________________
We are alone in the universe, or, we are not. Either way it's incredible... Adapted from R. Buckminster Fuller/Arthur C. Clarke
Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 118
Good Answers: 1
#23
In reply to #21

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

11/13/2017 8:38 PM

Thank you Randall, that explains the whole deal. I will look at the two alternatives that you suggested.

Rod.

Register to Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 1197
Good Answers: 23
#8

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

10/31/2017 8:06 AM

As a total hobbyist in these matters of 3D design, may I recommend Sketchup? A perpetual Sketchup Pro licence is $695, which I find reasonable over the years of my retirement. The learning curve seems to be a few hours.

Unfortunately the free version generates only .skp files, for which no converter exists, but the Pro version is available for a free trial.

Register to Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 12
#9
In reply to #8

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

10/31/2017 8:43 AM

I saw a demo a while back for Sketchup or a similar product where they "easily" converted their file to a 3D CAD model so perhaps that would be useful for you. It looks like several of the 3D CAD products will handle the conversion so Sketchup to their model files.

Register to Reply
Participant

Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 3
#18
In reply to #8

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

11/03/2017 11:14 AM

I too use Sketchup. Love it. There is an export extension available (free) that will allow .stl export From there you might find a 'converter". I did talk the boss into buying "SpaceClaim", which is capable of import and export of a lot of different formats. Learning curve is quite steep compared to Sketchup.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 875
Good Answers: 41
#10

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

10/31/2017 11:09 AM

My experience has been with AutoCAD, AutoCAD inventor, Alibre and Solidworks with some starts in Sketchup and Fusion 360. All are getting more expensive and most are technically equivalent, with the exception of Sketchup, which was mostly a frustrating pain.

Everyone is going to the purchase of original copy with subscription to an annual update and support service. It's how the firms financially survive. I get really bugged with SolidWorks in that when they do an annual update, they do not allow you to save in a previous year's format, just a way to leverage and force everyone to maintain the annual subscription EVERY year.

If you do work on the side, look into AutoCAD Fusion 360. For firms doing less than $100,000 per year they have free subscriptions available. I currently use SolidWorks and have my own license, but gag at the $1,500 annual subscription fee. I'm considering jumping to Fusion 360 for my side business, which is 3D printing, CNC machining and laser cutting.

Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Old New Member

Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: South east U.K.
Posts: 3311
Good Answers: 81
#11
In reply to #10

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

10/31/2017 11:48 AM

Have you looked at the free Autodesk 123 design. This is to complement the range of 3D printers they now sell.

__________________
I didn't have a really important life, but at least it's been funny (Lemmy Kilminster 1945-2015)
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 875
Good Answers: 41
#12
In reply to #11

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

10/31/2017 12:56 PM

Not yet. However, I will look. THX

Register to Reply
Guru
Hobbies - Fishing - Old Salt Hobbies - CNC - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Rosedale, Maryland USA
Posts: 5211
Good Answers: 269
#13

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

11/01/2017 9:04 AM

I have been using TurboCAD for years. I know about the yearly costs to maintain the software. can get pricey. They offer a deluxe software which I started with. Which is fine for drawing doesn't do 3D or have all the bells and whistles that the pro does. Its offered for $149.00. You can get a 30 trial from their web site. May be able to find it cheaper at some of the office outlet stores. One had it for $99.00

__________________
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in a pretty, pristine body but rather to come sliding in sideways, all used up and exclaiming, "Wow, what a ride!"
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Hemel Hempstead, UK
Posts: 4135
Good Answers: 230
#14
In reply to #13

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

11/01/2017 1:47 PM

Deluxe does include 3D see the chart I linked in post #7 Here's a chart

Also don't pay more than about $30 by just buying a slightly older version (they start nagging you to upgrade to the latest for about another $30 as soon as you start to use it).

__________________
We are alone in the universe, or, we are not. Either way it's incredible... Adapted from R. Buckminster Fuller/Arthur C. Clarke
Register to Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 15
Good Answers: 4
#15

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

11/02/2017 10:39 PM

I am surprised that no one has mentioned OnShape. I am just getting to know it but I am impressed with their tutorials and the fact that it is browser based so regardless of what device you have it will work as long as you have an internet connection. It also plays nicely with AutoCAD, and all the traditional CAD programs.

__________________
Knowledge can be easily found, but true value is in being able to apply that knowledge!
Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 382
Good Answers: 12
#16

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

11/02/2017 11:45 PM

I spent some time recently on the same quest. I am a semiretired mechanical engineer and have used both 2D and 3D for about 25 years.

Whilst we never know what is coming along, some other things to consider, are you designing for looks(rendering and shadows) or function(do the bits miss each other).

Consider if you need design for 3D printing and laser cutting, stress analysis, rendering, assembly (including exploding and welding parts), motion, interference, bill of materials, mass and costing, producing 2D drawings from parts and assembly and the ability to effect changes through the design chain, sheet metal, animation, flow, auto-dimension and most important how many videos are out there to help.

When going through the painful learning curve start a Word or similar file for notes because you will forget after spending hours trying to get a function to work.

My circumstances have changed but I concluded Rhino was worth a second look and not excessively priced.

Tony

__________________
The nice thing about Standards is there are so many to choose from.
Register to Reply
Power-User
Hobbies - CNC - New Member

Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng, South Africa
Posts: 111
Good Answers: 8
#17

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

11/03/2017 12:52 AM

I have been using AutoCad for the last 20 years and have recently switched to ZWCad.

This is an AutoCad look alike at a third of the price and a multiyear license. It is available in 2D and 3D.

It can be downloaded free with limited use.

__________________
Johan van Niekerk
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Eastern Kansas USA
Posts: 1116
Good Answers: 99
#20

Re: CAD Software Alternatives

11/05/2017 5:50 PM

I recently looked carefully at progeCAD, a successor to IntelliCAD, and was very impressed with the large object library that came with it, although much was in European formats. You may want to look at that as an AutoCAD replacement. It reads all AutoCAD files without problems, and saves in the same. When they get imported back into AutoCAD I saw no problems with the data; but Autodesk does enjoy putting a watermark on their printed work stating that it was created with a non-Autodesk product. I wouldn't be surprised if someone knows how to delete that watermark, but I have never worried about it--it is probably there as a means of protecting Autodesk against complaints and suits should some drawing errors show up.

--JMM

Register to Reply
Register to Reply 23 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

GW (1); Horhey PL Guy (1); Jacko the Aus (2); James Stewart (1); JavaHead (1); jmueller (1); Johan van Niekerk (1); Jpfalt (2); LaserWarrior (1); Nigh (2); Numbutz (1); ozzb (1); pcchatur (1); phph001 (1); Randall (3); Rotag (1); Tonymech (1); Tornado (1)

Previous in Forum: Open Source Software for Windows 8.1   Next in Forum: Computer CPU Meter

Advertisement