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Best/easiest 3D CAD?

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  • Best/easiest 3D CAD?

    An earlier post about designing with CAD brought this question up for me again. I've used an older version of 2D Autocad in the past (Ver. 10 for DOS!), but settled on Autodesk's QuickCAD, now AutoSketch, more than 10 years ago. Not high powered or full featured, I know, but it does what I want, and I know what I'm doing in it. I've tried the free version of Alibre, and I have a fairly recent copy of TurboCAD, but the learning curve for 3D just keeps putting me off. However, I'm feeling the need for 3D modeling more and more, so I'm thinking it's time to bite the bullet and figure it out.

    So, is Alibre the way to go, or is the TurboCAD I already have worth learning? Or is there a better choice that won't break the bank or my brain? Thanks in advance, gents.


  • #2
    For 2D Quickcad is still one of the best, if you have a copy, Sketchup and Alibre are OK (depending on who you talk too) and free. There are some cheap ones out there but it's trial and error, see if you can get demo versions first.
    The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

    Bluewater Model Engineering Society at

    Southwestern Ontario. Canada


    • #3


      • #4
        Solidworks 2010 is the only way to go. I bought a seat of Alibre and it is worthless (okay if your playing on the weekend) for what we do because the first project required a spline curve and Alibre does not handle that at all. You will pay more for Solidworks but short term savings will cost you more in frustration, time, not to mention newly developed cuss words. I had tried to save money but it cost alot more because I ended up buying a seat of Solidworks the same week because Alibre was junk. Like my Dad always said:" A fool and their money will soon part" he was 100% correct and I the fool......


        • #5
          I like Rhino 3D for simple parts, but the lack of parametric ability can get to be a serious pain when it comes to making more complex stuff. My options are limited though. I can not afford a seat of Solidworks. If I could that would be the way I think I would go.

          I sometimes use Sketchup to design things because it allows a bit more in the way of willy-nillly adjustments. Then when I have stuff fitting together I'll bring it into Rhino to put the final touches on it. Rhino can then produce the plan views for each component. I use SolidEdge2D for editing those. It's free and works well enough and I picked it up the quickest of the free packages I tried.

          I do this for fun so multiple thousands in drawing software is not in the cards. I got Rhino on the academic pricing model and at that price it was unbeatable.


          • #6
            No question Solidworks is the best. But who is going to spend the many thousands of dollars to buy a seat for a home shop? Not me. I could but I won't. Alibre does all that I need it to and is quite easy to learn I think. I bought the Alibre Design and now SimLab Composer to render the models. Total investment here in Germany was under $500 with support for one year with a free upgrade to the next version out next month. Their support is the best support I have ever experienced with any software package.
            Location: The Black Forest in Germany

            How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!


            • #7
              me too

              I too must make the jump to 3D cad . that's suprizing right.

              I been using autocad 97 Lt. it does I what I need but slowly it's getting to
              far behind the times.

              I will need to jump in to solid works & catia V5. because thats what the big companies want.



              • #8
                Cad program

                I have BobCAD-CAM. It does a lot for the money, but I don't know how it compares to anything else for ease of use.


                • #9
                  Another vote for Solidworks.


                  • #10
                    Solidworks is best IMHO. Alibre might be best option for people who don't have deep pockets. My yearly maintenance fee is several times what purchase price for Alibre is.


                    • #11
                      I'd hate to pay some one else to design this for me, besides it is much more enjoyable for me to do it myself.

                      The levers that are bent, are done as sheetmetal parts. Solidworks actually flattens them into the 2d drawings WITH the bend allowances and K factors already figured. The drawings show where to make the bends. Simply awsome.


                      • #12
                        If you can afford the cost, Solidworks.