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  1. #1

    Unhappy 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. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Jackson, MS
    Posts
    79

    Default

    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. #3

    Default

    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.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    DFW, Texas
    Posts
    71

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    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.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Brooklyn, NY
    Posts
    73

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    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.
    "A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing"

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Jackson, MS
    Posts
    79

    Default

    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.
    MillerMatic 252
    Spoolmate 200
    Diversion 165
    Spectrum 625 X-Treme
    Dayton 6" Miter Band Saw
    Delta Drill Press
    Bosch 10" Table Saw
    Bosch 12" Double Bevel Miter Saw
    Jet 5 Ton Chain Hoist
    Radnor O/A

    and this heavy duty table I made


  7. #7

    Default

    Quote 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.

  8. #8

    Default

    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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