What is CAD Software?

CAD software is used for design and design documentation and it replaces manual drafting with an automated process. Professionals in the structural engineering, MEP, and architecture fields use 2D and 3D CAD programs. These programs help them to explore design ideas, visualize concepts via photorealistic renderings, and simulate the performance of a design in the real world. 3D CAD software tools enable you to render designs from any angle, rotate objects in three dimensions, and apply multiple light sources. AutoCAD software was the first CAD platform and it continues to be the most popular CAD solution. Start by checking our leader CorelCAD, and other recommended solutions in this category.

CAD Software

Top 3 Most Popular CAD Software

Autodesk AutoCAD reviews
1.
Autodesk AutoCAD

Our Score 9.6

User Satisfaction 98%

A 2D and 3D CAD software for product designing, manufacturing planning, building designing, civil infrastructure, and construction teams. Read Reviews

Bentley MicroStation reviews
2.
Bentley MicroStation

Our Score 8.6

User Satisfaction 96%

Bentley MicroStation is a visual modeling service that enables infrastructure professionals to create high quality 3D models and project deliverables. Read Reviews

MATLAB reviews
3.
MATLAB

Our Score 9.4

User Satisfaction 95%

A programming, modeling and simulation platform that merges a desktop environment tuned for iterative analysis and design processes with a programming language that expresses matrix and array mathematics directly. Read Reviews

How To Choose The Best CAD Software

CAD software is used by artists, drafters, engineers, architects, and others to create technical illustrations and precision drawings. There are plenty of high-quality programs in this niche. So how do you do educated comparisons to shortlist the best CAD software for your requirements? We make this process simple for you. This article details the important tools and factors you need to consider while looking for CAD platforms.

Get to know each product with free trial

A good way to start your quest for the best CAD software is by registering for the free trial or demo of top programs. Prominent CAD software providers offer this facility to enable users to understand their application’s key features and also do a general comparison with other products. We recommend you check out the following tools for the possibility of a free trial: Autodesk AutoCADBentley MicroStation, MATLAB, CorelCAD, and SOLIDWORKS Premium. These platforms have received notable rankings in our CAD software reviews.

Targeted Businesses

CAD software is utilized in several fields by users such as:

  • Engineers
  • Architects
  • Drafters
  • Marine Engineers and
  • Naval Architects

Examples of CAD software

  1. Autodesk AutoCAD: A 3D CAD software that is used in construction, civil infrastructure, building designing, manufacturing planning, and product designing. It can be utilized for 3D visualizations and models as well as for making 2D drafts, drawings, and documents. The tool’s 2D features enable you to work with dynamic blocks, link and update data between Excel spreadsheets, and automatically create dimension styles. In addition, you can add lighting and materials to your 3D models to get a realistic appearance.
  2. Bentley MicroStation: A visual modeling solution designed for owner-operators, architects, constructors, and engineers. It provides tools for visualization, modeling, drafting, and object management. The platform accelerates project delivery and enhances the performance and quality of infrastructure assets. It is used for all types of utilities and infrastructure including communication networks, mining, process plants, water networks, rails, bridges, roads, and buildings.  
  3. MATLAB: This program is designed to help you analyze data, develop algorithms, and create models. It combines a desktop environment built for design processes and iterative analysis with a programming language that directly expresses array and matrix mathematics. MATLAB toolboxes are fully documented, rigorously tested, and professionally developed. You can scale your analyses to run on clouds, GPUs, and clusters with only minor code changes.
  4. CorelCAD: CAD software for Windows and Mac. It provides high-quality 2D drafting and 3D design tools. In addition, you get industry-standard file compatibility with .CDR, .PDF, .STL, AND .DWG. You can use it for productive project collaboration and sharing. The platform provides optional automation and customization features.
  5. SOLIDWORKS Premium: A comprehensive 3D design platform that provides reverse engineering capabilities, advanced wire and pipe routing functionality, and robust simulation, motion, and design validation tools. You can utilize the rich simulation features to test product performance against real world forces and motions. In addition, you can use the tolerance stack-up analysis functionality to resolve assembly issues in the design process and ensure manufacturability.

Types of CAD Software

Following are common types of CAD software:

  • 2D CAD tools. These were developed in the early 1970s and rely on basic geometric shapes such as circles, rectangles, lines etc. to create flat drawings.
  • 3D CAD tools. A more advanced software that was developed in the 1980s. It has improved graphic display capabilities that enable you to create realistic 3D images. You need professional training to master this software.

3D CAD software can be further categorized into:

  • Wire-frame models. These have become old-fashioned and they create skeleton-like models with arcs and lines.
  • Surface models. These create models by joining 3D surfaces. Background is not visible which makes the surface models quite realistic.
  • Solid models. The most useful CAD models. They are a step up from surface models as they have added properties such as density, volume, and weight that make them resemble real physical objects. Solid models are utilized as prototypes to work on engineering designs.

Key Features of CAD Software

CAD software provides all the tools of standard drawing software. In addition, they also offer:  

  • Links to packages that enable you to calculate costs
  • Libraries of engineering components that can be imported
  • Robust reflection, rotation, and scaling options
  • Enables you to view images from any angle
  • Helps you to create drawings in objects in in 2D, 3D, 2D CAD, and 3D CAD
  • Ensures enhanced accuracy (it allows you to work to within 1/72 of an inch)

Benefits of CAD software

  1. View it before you build it. Professionals can use CAD software to provide a realistic view of their design to lay people. For instance, architects can utilize it explain the architecture of a house to home buyers.
  2. Work faster. CAD software provides all the tools, rulers, and measurements you need for your blueprints. Thus, you can work more quickly and will also be able to correct errors faster compared to using paper and pencil. In addition, if you are creating multiple similar blueprints, you can develop an initial template and use it as a base for all other templates. This helps you save time and improve productivity.
  3. Easy storage and sharing. You can store all your blueprints in the cloud, on a USB pen drive, or on your computer. This enables you to find what you need quickly and easily. In addition, you can effortlessly share your blueprints and other designs with your business partners wherever they may be located. It is advisable to take periodical backups of your data to ensure they are safe in case of emergency.
  4. Both simple and complex tools are available. Depending on your skills and proficiency, you can opt to use a simple or complex tool. For instance, AutoCAD software can be used by engineers and architects for technical blueprints, while 3Ds Max or Maya is ideal for realistic 3D renderings and models. You can upgrade your skills by taking online courses that enable you to use even complex CAD software.
  5. CAD is everywhere. CAD software is used in a number of fields including fashion, automotive, cartography, design, engineering, architecture, and others. CAD provides many advantages over conventional design therefore you can invest in a quality CAD software to reap the benefits.

Latest Trends

Cloud-based CAD is becoming popular. The increasing use of remote employees and transnational collaboration is driving the growth of cloud-based CAD solutions. The adoption of these systems by businesses is predicted to grow by 164% over the next five years. Cloud-based CAD offers advantages such as lower expenses for setup and IT, and reduced onboarding time for new employees. In addition, these platforms can be easily accessed on any internet-enabled device anywhere, anytime, making them a handy option for international teams and remote workers.

3D printing is becoming widespread in many industries. Multiple industries and sectors are recognizing the advantages of 3D printing and are integrating it in their processes. For example, MIT researchers recently designed a strong yet light 3D-printed material called graphene that could improve the design of airplanes, cars, and other vehicles. Medical institutions are using 3D design and printing for faster and easier customization of medical devices. Other sectors like the auto, aerospace, and manufacturing industries are also widely employing 3D design and printing as they help to reduce production time and greenhouse gas emissions.

Potential Issues

Following are common issues faced in using CAD software:

  1. Conversion problems. It can be difficult to transfer files from one format or program to another.
  2. Default tolerances. Many designers do not change then default tolerance of the CAD program while creating drawings. This laziness can be expensive as more money is needed to produce more precise tolerances.
  3. Revision control. Large companies have the deep pockets to invest in the latest CAD software. However, small companies make do with older versions of drawings and models as they cannot afford the buy the latest software.
  4. Steep learning curve. Complex CAD software programs are difficult to master and you need extensive training to be able to utilize their full potential.
  5. High cost. The best tools cost big money to set up and implement. Therefore, only companies with adequate finances can afford to invest in high-quality CAD software programs.

List of CAD Software Companies

Page last modified

Selected products (0)

1.
Autodesk AutoCAD

Our Score 9.6

User Satisfaction 98%

A 2D and 3D CAD software for product designing, manufacturing planning, building designing, civil infrastructure, and construction teams. Read Reviews

  • Pricing: $185
  • Devices Supported: Windows, Android, iPhone/iPad, Mac, Web-based
  • Pricing Model: Monthly payment, Annual Subscription
  • Customer Types: Small Business, Large Enterprises, Medium Business, Freelancers
  • Deployment: Cloud Hosted, Open API

2.
CorelCAD

Our Score 9.6

User Satisfaction 100%

An affordable and precise computer-aided software used for 3D drawing, design, and printing, and 2D drafting; providing design tools and features that accelerate workflows, improve productivity, and boost collaboration. Read Reviews

  • Pricing: $699
  • Devices Supported: Windows, Android, iPhone/iPad, Mac, Web-based
  • Pricing Model: One-time payment
  • Customer Types: Small Business, Large Enterprises, Medium Business
  • Deployment: Cloud Hosted

3.
SmartDraw

Our Score 9.5

User Satisfaction 100%

An easy-to-use and powerful flowchart maker and diagramming solution which is an alternative to Microsoft Visio; helping companies and organizations document processes, manage projects, plan strategies, and convey ideas. Read Reviews

  • Pricing: $297
  • Devices Supported: Windows, Android, iPhone/iPad, Mac, Web-based
  • Pricing Model: One-time payment, Annual Subscription
  • Customer Types: Small Business, Large Enterprises, Medium Business
  • Deployment: Cloud Hosted

4.
ANSYS DesignModeler

Our Score 9.5

User Satisfaction 80%

A comprehensive training course that familiarizes users with tools related to analysis in ANSYS Workbench. Read Reviews

  • Pricing: By quote
  • Devices Supported: Windows, Mac
  • Pricing Model: One-time payment, Quote-based
  • Customer Types: Small Business, Large Enterprises, Medium Business, Freelancers
  • Deployment: Cloud Hosted, On Premise

5.
MATLAB

Our Score 9.4

User Satisfaction 95%

A programming, modeling and simulation platform that merges a desktop environment tuned for iterative analysis and design processes with a programming language that expresses matrix and array mathematics directly. Read Reviews

  • Pricing: $29
  • Devices Supported: Windows, Linux, Mac
  • Pricing Model: One-time payment, Annual Subscription, Quote-based
  • Customer Types: Small Business, Large Enterprises, Medium Business, Freelancers
  • Deployment: On Premise

6.
SolidWorks Premium

Our Score 9.4

User Satisfaction 95%

SolidWorks Premium is a computer-aided design software that allows users to create, simulate, publish, and manage 3D models. Read Reviews

  • Pricing: By quote
  • Devices Supported: Windows, Mac
  • Pricing Model: Quote-based
  • Customer Types: Small Business, Medium Business
  • Deployment: Cloud Hosted, On Premise, Open API

7.
ARCHICAD

Our Score 9.2

User Satisfaction 98%

An industry-leading Building Information Modeling (BIM) platform for urban planners, interior designers, designers, and architects. Read Reviews

  • Pricing: By quote
  • Devices Supported: Windows, Android, iPhone/iPad, Mac, Web-based
  • Pricing Model: Quote-based
  • Customer Types: Small Business, Medium Business, Freelancers
  • Deployment: Cloud Hosted, On Premise

8.
DraftSight

Our Score 9.1

User Satisfaction 88%

A highly interoperable 2D CAD design and drafting solution used for creating 2D drawings and CAD projects in architectural, mechanical engineering, and design fields. Read Reviews

  • Pricing: $149
  • Devices Supported: Windows, Linux, Mac, Web-based
  • Pricing Model: Free, One-time payment, Annual Subscription, Quote-based
  • Customer Types: Small Business, Large Enterprises, Medium Business
  • Deployment: Cloud Hosted, Open API

9.
CATIA

Our Score 9.1

User Satisfaction 99%

A leading product design software built in a collaborative 3D environment which enables manufacturing organizations in a variety of industries to design, simulate, analyze, and develop products, Read Reviews

  • Pricing: By quote
  • Devices Supported: Windows, Mac, Web-based
  • Pricing Model: Quote-based
  • Customer Types: Small Business, Large Enterprises, Medium Business
  • Deployment: Cloud Hosted, On Premise, Open API

10.
Creo View

Our Score 8.9

User Satisfaction 100%

A simple yet powerful and scalable product lifecycle management solution which allows the viewing and sharing of 3D MCAD product models, assemblies, drawings, images and documents for product design review and visual collaboration. Read Reviews

  • Pricing: $1,020
  • Devices Supported: Windows, Linux, Android, iPhone/iPad, Mac, Web-based
  • Pricing Model: Free, Annual Subscription, Quote-based
  • Customer Types: Small Business, Large Enterprises, Medium Business
  • Deployment: Cloud Hosted, Open API

Our Score Read More

Our review platform employs our proprietary SmartScore™ method to test all the software in the CAD Software category to help you get the best possible application. It evaluates the following metrics: individual features, collaboration capabilities, customization, integrations with other services, ease of use, customer support, how secure a software is, support for mobile devices, general media ratings. Currently, Autodesk AutoCAD is the leader in this category and we gave it the highest score in our tests. After detailed evaluation it got the best results among its competitors and our experts strongly suggest that you consider it as one of the options for your needs.

User Satisfaction Read More

A summary of total user satisfaction with the services in our CAD Software category evaluated with our unique algorythm that analyzes user reviews, comments and opinions across a wide set of social media sites in order to help you make an educated buying choice.

98%

100%

100%

80%

95%

95%

98%

88%

99%

100%

Pricing Read More

Every vendor in the CAD Software category will provide a different set of pricing plans for its product and each plan will include a different set of features. Below we list the overal pricing for the most affordable package offered for each service. Keep in mind that advanced features may cost extra.

$185

$699

$297

By quote

$29

By quote

By quote

$149

By quote

$1,020

Devices Supported Read More

An analysis of what type of devices and operating systems are supported by the listed B2B services in the CAD Software category, including mobile platforms and web-based solutions.

Windows

Android

iPhone/iPad

Mac

Web-based

Laguages Supported Read More

Find out what languages and countries are served by the best B2B solutions in the CAD Software category, including services intended for international markets and prepared for multi-cultural teams of employees.

Pricing Model Read More

Find out which pricing plans are provided by the vendors in the CAD Software category to see which one fits your business preferences and expenses best. Be aware that certain software can support free or freemium accounts for you to try out first.

Free

Monthly payment

One-time payment

Annual Subscription

Quote-based

Customer Types Read More

An overview of which types of customers a selected B2B software in the CAD Software category is designed for, from small businesses and non-profits to large enterprises.

Small Business

Large Enterprises

Medium Business

Freelancers

Deployment Read More

A summary of what kinds of service deployement are offered by each B2B vendor in the CAD Software category. Even though the majority of modern SaaS solutions are cloud-hosted certain services may offer an on-site deployment model too.

Cloud Hosted

On Premise

Open API