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Recommendations for an affordable 3D CAD for home use

  1. Mar 22, 2017 #1

    I hope this is the right place to post this. I'm looking for recommendations for a modeling/drafting cad program that is relatively affordable and capable. I have extensive experience with NX and Solidworks, but can't justify paying for either of those to simply use at home. My non-work hobby involves designing and fabricating unique car parts for a select community and it would be extremely helpful to have home CAD ability again to be able to make models and drawings for the local machine shop I use. I don't mind paying something for it, but can't justify $3000 + renewal fees. Any recommendations/suggestions are much appreciated.

    Seth Allen
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 22, 2017 #2
  4. Mar 22, 2017 #3
    I haven't yet but I will download it when I get home and see! I don't need anything overly complicated. Thanks!
  5. Mar 22, 2017 #4
    I've purchased Home Designer from Chief Architect dot com, made for the DIY market. Like it OK, affordable, works OK after learning curve, provides good visualization tools (add-in libraries for furniture, textures, cabinets, and flying camera walkthroughs), lots of YouTubes, good discussion forum for finding help. Unless you get the $2K super-duper version, you might find a couple design capabilities lacking for which you must determine workarounds. For example, on my 1954-vintage home, I tried to model "as-is" the CMU basement wall, 2x4 top plate, and then the 2x10 floor joists. This stackup simply won't add up to the software's default construction dialog dimensions for inserting Floor0 (basement construction). Visualizing the outside of the building, there is a gap between floors. Many defaults are customizable, but this parameter was not. Not a job stopper, but I have to scratch my head as to why didn't they add that simple additive capability? Professional architect-level software cost is on the same level as SolidWorks etc.
  6. Mar 22, 2017 #5
    7 or 8 years ago I needed AutoCAD R14 which was long gone. I made a few phone calls and found a local architectural firm that sold me an old copy of theirs. For $100 I got the license and the Windows 98 machine the program was still on plus while I was there an old HP "D" size pen plotter was thrown in. If all you need is what you say this may be a solution for you. Bear in mind 14 is not supported by Autodesk anymore but I have yet to run into a current program that can't or won't import the 14 files.
  7. Mar 22, 2017 #6


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    Are the above actually practical or usable for machine design modelling of items like auto parts, etc.
  8. Mar 22, 2017 #7


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    Does anyone have any experience with AutoCAD FUSION 360
  9. Mar 23, 2017 #8
    Hadn't followed Autodesk for a long time so I looked it up. Seemed more then alright and it's a free download for students, hobbyists and enthusiasts. That's hard to beat.

    There you go Seth.
  10. Mar 23, 2017 #9


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    I've used Fusion360 for a long time . Absolutely excellent .

    I also have under evaluation FreeCad .
  11. Mar 23, 2017 #10
    That is what I need it for. I'm not going to use it for architectural purposes, but more so designing custom exhaust manifolds/flanges/piping as well as numerous random brackets and mounts.

    I'll download it and give it a shot too. Thanks guys...I'll report back with what I find.
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