3D Modeling and Computer Aided Design (CAD) software tools have really helped to different aspects of engineering very simple and more accurate. In industries, before you build anything physically, you need to use 3D CAD software to make the modelling, design and simulate it. Then save it in the Stereolithography (SLT) file format if you wish to print it. I have taken time to reveal these easy to use software tools that can help you with your 3D modeling and CAD as an engineer. No matter your field in engineering, be it electrical, civil, mechanical (production, automobile), mechatronics, structural, chemical, and even architects, you will find a software that will suit you, both in budget and in features.
Difference Between 3D Modeling, CAD, CAM and CAE
There is a little difference between 3D modeling software and CAD software. The main difference is that CAD software are mostly used to simplify manufacturing industrial processes. While 3D modeling software is mostly used for artistic works and in entertainment industries and also to design buildings. Both of them are related in such a way that most 3D software can be used for both 3D modeling and CAD. But the fact remains that 3D modeling is an aspect of CAD.
With further technological development, CAD was split into Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) and Computer Aided Engineering (CAE). This means that CAM software are used in manufacturing processes while CAM software tools are used in engineering processes. Vincent Zitzewitz explained more about CAD and CAE.
7 Best, Easy to Use 3D Modeling & CAD Software for Engineers
This is a CAD software that is loaded with many 2D and 3D features which are very useful to various aspects of engineering. The recent versions have the latest CAD engine which help to improve its reliability when in use. It can be used for any type of CAE works and 3D modeling. But it is not very suitable for design analysis. It has many add-on features which further makes it easier to use. Photo-realistic rendering becomes very simple with ActCAD. You will also enjoy a free email technical support when you purchase the software tool.
Some of its outstanding features are:
- Inbuilt PDF to DXF and Image to DXF converters
- A block library which contains more than 5000 standard symbols
- You can also transfer the license from one PC to another once you purchase the software.
There is a trial version which has no limitation when it comes to accessing the features of the software. But the Life-time version starts at $299.
AutoCAD is one of the products of AutoDesk which has many industry-specific features and intelligent objects for various engineering fields and even for architects. You can easily draft 2D geometry and 3D models. Include annotative texts, dimensions, tables and leaders with this CAD software. AutoCAD is available for Windows, Mac and even Android OS.
Some of the unique features of this software include:
- Ease of share and reuse of PDF and DGN files.
- You can now attach external files to your current drawing by referencing them externally.
- API that allows you to drawings and databases with various programming languages.
- More realistic rendering. You can also render your works online to save hard disk space.
- The solid, surface and mesh modeling tools allows you to create realistic 3D models.
You can try the software for free for 30 days. Enjoy the multi-user license sharing when you purchase the software. Based on your need, you can buy a collection, which consists of AutoCAD and other AutoDesk software.
Smartly manage complex projects with MicroStation, a modeling, a Bentley’s visualization and documentation CAD software. Whatever form the project takes, be it design, construction or operations, MicroStation offers you the flexibility and tools you need to get the job done as fast as possible.
Here are some industries where this CAD software tool is very useful:
- Roads and Highways
- Electric and Gas Utilities
- Process Manufacturing
- Mapping and Surveying
- Buildings and Facilities
- Rail and Transit
- Government projects and Information Management
- Power Generation, etc.
- Water and Wastewater
There is no free version of Bentley’s MicroStation. You subscribe monthly starting from $250 to have access to this powerful software.
A parametric featured-based 3D CAD tool with amazing features for product engineers, powered by Dassault Systèmes’. With the recent versions of this software, you can create drawings, assemblies and simulations. 3DExperience allows you to extend SolidWorks to the cloud, to ensure that you can access your files any time and from anywhere. There is a free trial version. But if you want buy the software, you have many options; request a demo, a quote, contact sales or find a reseller from their website.
CATIA is also powered by Dassault Systèmes’. Professionals like engineers, system architects and other contractors will find this CAD tool very useful because of it powerful 3D modeling and simulation capabilities. To buy the software, you need to contact their sales department.
Any electrical engineer or technician will find ElectricalDesign very useful because of how it simplifies electrical wiring design. The software tool tells you the best type of wire to use for electrical work, how to make the make the necessary calculations on various house plans,
The software has helpful libraries like electrical materials and symbols, motors, Power Transformers (PT), etc.
A powerful 3D CAD tool from Graphisoft. With Architects can easily perform realistic rendering with the help of Twinmotion live connection. With the real-time synchronization feature, architects can now easily edit models on the go. There is a trial version and a premium version available.
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