What is the best 3d CAD software?

In summary, Autodesk Inventor is a good program to start with if you want to learn 3D modeling. It is easy to learn and is powerful. However, it has a non-intuitive user interface which can hold it back. Pro/E and SolidWorks are both industry standards and are both powerful but difficult to use. Solid Edge is very user friendly and still reasonably powerful. Inventor is somewhere between Pro/E and Solid Works as far as power and ease-of-use.f
  • #1
Currently I'm teaching myself Autodesk Inventor and it seems to be going pretty well. I was wondering though, in the job market what program is most used? Also what program is the most powerful in the design process? I guess what I'm really looking for is the program that would most benefit me to learn.
  • #2
Depends entirely on which field you're going into.
  • #3
Mechanical engineering.
  • #5
Solidworks (very popular in smaller companies, maybe in all companies now, easiest to use/learn)
Pro/Engineer: aka Creo (very powerful, little harder to use than SW, getting better)
CATIA (large companies, aerospace, auto, same owner as SW)

I think the Pro/E vs. Solidworks battle is not as relevant now, they kind of met in the middle for power versus usebility and cost. I could be wrong though, I am a Pro/E guy these days, have not looked at SW for a few years.
  • #6
Pro/E and Solidworks are both industry standards. My company uses Pro/E primarily. I personally think it has a really non-intuitive user interface which holds it back (to put it diplomatically).
  • #7
pro engineer and catia is good for mechanical engg.
  • #8
I have used Pro/E, Solid Works, Solid Edge, and Inventor.

Arriving at generalizations is subjective, but I would say Pro/E is still the most poweful but difficult to use. Solid Edge is very user friendly and still reasonably powerful. Solid Works is underrated - a very good product with an excellent sheet metal package. Inventor is somewhere between Pro/E and Solid Works as far as power and ease-of-use.
  • #9
just started using solid edge in uni today, before this i used solidworks, solidworks is so much simplier to use though i haven't had much chance to try it.
Only thing is once you make a mistake or trying to do something complicated and don't know why its not doing what u want in solidworks, can be really confusing.
  • #10
We used Rhino in university. Seemed to work pretty well!
  • #11
As a recent graduate in AutoCAD, There is no definitive answer. Inventor is a good start for 3D modeling and the features are attractive and user friendly, it is fast and extremely easy to revise, update, correct and provide detailed layout sheets.. and a good choice whereas, there is parametric modeling, materials and parts lists, BOM billing of materials and exports easily to Microsoft Office applications that may become a concern depending on where your report ends up. And there is good reason to believe you may use the bending and unbending or other FEA tools available.
AutoCAD 2012 3D Modeling can be very useful...but does not provide those extremely easy
features, depending on the resources of your group it is just as effective and a powerful design tool, and other programs are there because there is a choice and direction and preference of the user..

you have made a good choice of where to start...for 3D there is reason to to consider looking into solid works for instance because there is ease in the performance of various aspects of the construction process and finite element analysis and the methods you wish to apply to emphasize the analysis

Ask me how to 3D model it? AutoCAD 2012
and probably for precision layouts of the individual parts.

Inventor for Section View of really complex assembly
detailed parts lists on demand so to speak

Pro E and SolidWorks knowledge will come easily once you have determined what you want to provide and leans towards designing in theoretical Wow factor not individual structural continuity + Wow factor
  • #12
Once you know one, the others are very easy to learn if they have a reasonale tutorial. At least from my experience.
  • #13
I have been in different companies, having used Pro-E, Solidworks and Unigraphics. I have used CATIA some.

The answer is dependent on what industry you want to go into.

The Big Three Automotives and Aerospace uses Unigraphics and CATIA. The reason most companies don't use Unigraphics nor CATIA is the license cost, it is pretty salty. The advantage of using Unigraphics and CATIA is that both tend be used by surfacing experts, people who have to create faces that are not very easily created by basic functions.

Then, most other companies use Pro-E and Solidworks. These two CAD systems are great at creating the basic models and the CAD systems are very reasonable in cost. Both of these used to be lacking in the CAE area, but I have heard with Solidworks, that they have made great strides in CAE.

Now, the next question lies in how much do you want to get paid. You may say I want to get paid the most that I can. Well, you will have to learn Unigraphics or CATIA. But, the issue lies in learning either one takes a lot of time, not very easy to learn for the average CAD user. There are one week classes or schools that teach them, so you can check them out.

Now, if you want to get off the ground using a CAD and getting paid, go toward Pro-E or Solidworks. They are pretty easy to learn, and both use the same philosophy, sketch first, then use a boolean function, add, subtract, etc. The set back is that these jobs don't pay as well as the jobs for Unigraphics and CATIA. But, if you can get access to either Pro-E or Solidworks, you could learn either one on your own.

I know this is a lot to take in, but I have been in engineering in different industries and different positions, and this is just my observation of the industry.

Good luck in your career.
  • #14
when i was a intern at bosch siemens i strictly had to use UNIGRAPHICS aka UG, which is the corporations normalized CAD software. Otherwise most companies tend to use solidworks, catia, pro-engineer etc... these days there are a ton of options and you can't really say which one is the "best". Surely its better to ask which is the best in its field like catia is in automotive and solidworks for educational purposes.
  • #15
Apparently Solidworks is the best software among all packages available.

Creo/ProE is hard to learn due to its confusing interface and the way things are created. Although one benefit of it is that if you learn ProE/Creo, you will not have any issues shifting to any other software.

Inventor is gaining popularity too but its difficulty level lies between SW and Creo.

Catia is only used for high tech applications like aerospace industry and automotive design.

I wish that developers of these softwares set their target group of customers and understood where do the starters stand when they are using their softwares
  • #16
Thank you guys for all the replies!
  • #17
I've used Solidworks and Solid Edge quite a bit.
  • #18
We use SolidWorks for parametric modeling at my university.
  • #19
Parametric softwares are easy to use, but the most important thing is that you should know the basics of drafting.If you do not have a good base in drafting you and your company will be in a lot of pain.
  • #21
I understand this thread is fairly old, but I am currently in charge of determiningg the best 3D CAD software to use at my company. We will be manufacturing high power transformers. Has anyone in this thread worked in the power industry? More specifically with 3D transformer design and modeling? If so, any information on CAD software you used would be greatly appreciated.
  • #22
I understand this thread is fairly old, but I am currently in charge of determiningg the best 3D CAD software to use at my company. We will be manufacturing high power transformers. Has anyone in this thread worked in the power industry? More specifically with 3D transformer design and modeling? If so, any information on CAD software you used would be greatly appreciated.

im pretty sure all 3d programs mentioned in this thread are enough to model the actual transformer but you should definitely keep an eye out for the 3d programs that are compatible with the CAM and CAE programs for your field.
  • #23
Solidworks is the best software that enables you to interact with your 3D mechanical drawing or design, it gives you the opportunity to study some material engineering aspects as buckling, stresses using some finite elements capabilities and at the same time you can have some CFD simulations as well. As for Autocad it is not very handy concerning 3D drawing but it is a perfect tool for drafting specially in the field of building services such as , hvac design, plumbing etc... for some nice plumbing, hvac and drainage networks designs in autocad visit: http://www.engineershouse.com/shop/category.php?id_category=9
  • #24
Enigma yes I support you answer, important is to understand that your company dictates what rout to go. If you’re not in a position to make the decision please do the following. Work with the application and do your best to learn everything you can about how the software should work. Nobody can take away what you learn and therefore add all of this as additional CV material. I am currently working with Bentley applications (PowerCivil, ProStructures, Openplant and ProjectWise for Document Control. I have worked on Unigraphics, Autodesk and locally produced applications. Personally I do not think there is any more a question like what software is the best, it is rather how fast can I! produce an result to my client and am I willing to learn. Never tell your boss you are to old to learn new things.
  • #25
Autodeesk Inventor is the best handsdown in my opinion. I don't agree with firavia's comment on not being hand for 3D drawings. It does the same as Solidworks, but has more functionality in other areas. I learned how to use Inventor all by myself by reading the manual and watching youbtube videos. There are a lot of tutorials for it.
  • #26
I think Firavia was talking about Autodesk AutoCAD, in which case I'd have to agree (although admitedly I like it well enough; it just isn't up to the same level in 3D as Inventor or Solidworks or ProE)
  • #28
What is the best 3d CAD software?

That is a very subjective question.

Here are my subjective ratings for CAD packages that I've used in design of automated conveyor lines; hematology analyzers; medical optics equipment; chemical vapor deposition equipment for semiconductors; seismic restraints for MEP & Equipment in Structures; linear accelerators for oncology:

SolidWorks (9/10)
Pro/E (7/10)
Inventor (3/10)
AutoCAD (1/10)* with regards to 3D. The 2D is useful for schematics, cables and the like.

Things I look for in CAD software are:
1. Ease of use/intuitive design
2. Features that make my life easier (ie sheetmetal, cable routing, weldments, standard shapes, hardwarem and hole callouts, etc.)
3. Robust models
4. Can I share my models/drawings with machinists, consultants, other engineers?

Usually, it doesn't matter which software you find to be the best. Your software will be chosen by your employer.

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