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Best Easy CAD???? Your Favorite?

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  • Best Easy CAD???? Your Favorite?

    Years ago I took a class and mastered (well, sort of) Autocad. It was a tough one. I used it somewhat, but never enough to really get proficient. I had a student version back then and then found it subject to changing computers, planned obsolescence, etc. Pretty soon it was gone.

    I picked up autodesk later and used it for a while. Time went by and now I am trying to find an inexpensive, easy to use, CAD program, knowing beyond the basic framework I will need to learn new interfaces and commands

    I see guys online doing impressive drawings. So, let me know what your favorite is.

    Thanks in advance.

    Jim

  • #2
    We used SolidWorks for our mechanical engineering classes in school, and it was a lot easier than AutoCad. SW is a lot more intuitive, visual design if you will. AutoDesk will do the world but you have to know what you are doing, more command based design. AutoDesk is one of the most expensive CAD programs out there, along with Pro-E. I've never used Pro-E before. SolidWorks is fairly affordable.

    If you aren't using this for business and just personal use to design up things around the house or your personal projects, you should look into Google Sketchup. They have a gigantic online community with tutorial videos and libraries of pre-fab objects to place in your drawing. It's also an intuitive design program although it takes a lot of getting used to because it's pretty clunky (that's where the tutorials help.) You have to do a few in-between steps to get what you want unlike SolidWorks. But a base 3D SolidWorks program is like $1700 or something and that doesn't include motion or FEA. Sketchup is free, and the online support is free. A lot of true engineering design firms have transitioned to Sketchup as well due to the inexpensiveness, support, and power of the program.

    I'm not sure what kind of program you would want for CNC, waterjets, etc. since I've never used one, but for straight drawing Sketchup works great. What I've found with it is that if you have previous CAD experience, the learning curve is not very steep. You should be able to pick it up in no time, and why go out an buy a program if a free one will do all you need it to.
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    • #3
      There is also Alibre Standard for $99,but I wish Solidworks was around the $500 range,I would hook up with it then $1700 is out of my price range.

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      • #4
        I'll agree that sketchup is worth checking out. After all, you are only investing your time to try it out. Do check out the getting started videos. They will help you get oriented and on the way. I've used it to draw up a welding project, and determine at least roughly how long some of the parts were going to be while working up the material list.

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        • #5
          I use AutoCAD 2009 and Sketch Up. I definitely don't use AC to it's potential since I use it only for 2D design. I took classes and learned the 3D stuff but since I don't use it, I've forgotten most of it. I agree with the other posts regarding the easy transition into Sketch Up and also with the sometimes clunky interface.

          I will say that I went from never using sketch-up to creating a scaled, dimensioned 3D welding table in about 90 minutes. The panning on 3 axes can be a little frustrating...

          I will add that there are also a lot of online Sketch Up libraries that you can import to your drawings.

          Matt.

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          • #6
            Obviously, you would want to use a mouse with Sketchup. If you have one with a wheel like most of them do, panning, zooming and rotating is very easy once you get used to it. Zooming by rolling the mouse wheel in or out. Rotate the drawing by holding the wheel down while moving the mouse. And pan by holding down the shift key and wheel at the same time. The shift and ctrl keys are essential to Sketchup.

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            • #7
              Have you looked into Design Cad, and Turbo Cad?
              Check ebay, some really good deals. Good deals on older versions of Auto-Cad too! If you buy any used Auto-Cad make sure you get the license!

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              • #8
                Turbo cad

                I am in high school right now, and am taking a course on "TURBO CAD"
                It is a fairly easy program to use once you know a bit about it. I havent done any 3D yet but i have done some fairly technical drawings. Cant post any since they are at school. Not sure on price either.
                Might be worth it to check out???

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                • #9
                  I haven't used any of the other products but I still like Autocad. The latest version seems eaiser to use than the early versions, ( I learned on the original Autocad.).

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                  • #10
                    Autocad 2000 cause I got it and I am fairly proficient at it. If I knew nothing I would learn Alibre as it looks to be an awesome deal I cant see how you can beat there pricing, also I think you can use the 2D for free through there trial program.

                    I might add if you need to learn any and be proficient I might look and see what is taught at your local community colleges and get that.

                    Originally posted by davinci2010 View Post
                    I haven't used any of the other products but I still like Autocad. The latest version seems eaiser to use than the early versions, ( I learned on the original Autocad.).

                    The new version is awesome! Too bad the price point is soooo high.
                    Last edited by nikodell; 04-24-2010, 04:19 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by NoogaD View Post
                      Obviously, you would want to use a mouse with Sketchup. If you have one with a wheel like most of them do, panning, zooming and rotating is very easy once you get used to it. Zooming by rolling the mouse wheel in or out. Rotate the drawing by holding the wheel down while moving the mouse. And pan by holding down the shift key and wheel at the same time. The shift and ctrl keys are essential to Sketchup.
                      I did not know that about the shift and ctrl keys. I was wondering why such a cool program was giving me so much trouble; couldn't be my fault...

                      P.I.C.N.I.C. - Problem In Chair, Not In Computer!

                      Matt.

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                      • #12
                        Matt, I think I discovered that scrolling bit by accident. It frustrated me a lot to have to click the rotate button, then pan, then zoom. Divine intervention or something like that. You can also use the shift to constrain a line. Like when you are drawing something that you want to intersect a different point but you are having trouble getting it to stay on an axis or parallel line. Just find the line, hold shift (you should see the line you are drawing get bold,) then drag to where you want to intersect.

                        I wish Sketchup had a fillet button. Like Solidworks, you pick the two intersecting lines (or better yet, surfaces) you want to fillet, hit the button and then specify the radius. Easy. Sketchup, you have to know where your fillet radius is going to hit so that you can draw a tangent arc from those two points. Then you have to extrude the fillet along the surface. You can do it, but it's a bit of a challenge. Same with array procedures. You have to copy an item, place it in the end point of the array and then tell it how many times to copy the item, whereas SW it's all in one step.

                        I'm not sure about the other programs mentioned: Turbo CAD, etc. I tried one of those $99 jobs before using Sketchup and was completely unsatisfied.
                        Last edited by NoogaD; 04-24-2010, 11:15 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by modela View Post
                          Years ago I took a class and mastered (well, sort of) Autocad. It was a tough one. I used it somewhat, but never enough to really get proficient. I had a student version back then and then found it subject to changing computers, planned obsolescence, etc. Pretty soon it was gone.

                          I picked up autodesk later and used it for a while. Time went by and now I am trying to find an inexpensive, easy to use, CAD program, knowing beyond the basic framework I will need to learn new interfaces and commands

                          I see guys online doing impressive drawings. So, let me know what your favorite is.

                          Thanks in advance.

                          Jim
                          Consider DoubleCad. There is a free version available.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            One thing that really helped me with Sketchup was YouTube. I would type in bits of questions like "Sketchup dimension drawings" into YouTube search. It's a much faster path to a usable answer than a regular Google search.

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