Top Tools / November 22, 2022

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Top 20 3D CAD Tools

While creating 3D models can initially appear even more mysterious than creating traditional artwork, with little expertise and the robust 3D modelling software that powers them, it becomes surprisingly simple.

3D models are used extensively in both digital and physical production, including animation, game elements, architecture, manufacture, and product design.

It's critical to select the top tools for your project to realise your ideas' key components without wasting time on the incorrect tool. CAD, often known as computer-aided design, is a design and technical documentation tool that automates the laborious process of drafting 3D models.


SOLIDWORKS is one of the most capable and popular CAD programmes available today. With the aid of intuitive processes and an extensive toolkit, you can create and document your goods fast and effectively. Use specialist tools for welded joints, sheet metal, plastic moulded components, pipe routing, and many other tasks while making parts and assemblies.

Key Features:

  • In the case of mechanical design software, SolidWorks is simple to learn. The many lessons that are provided for the majority of the items and basic simulations benefit from it.

  • The render engine is extremely peculiar; it simply requires the CPU yet produces images of quite high quality to display the model in sufficient detail.

  • It is a great benefit that engineering design patterns can be created almost automatically.

  • It offers a broad range of instruments that integrate electrical operations, which is sometimes overlooked in products but has good value because of this integration.


They have commercial, student, academic and research packages. Contact the company for a quote.

2. TurboCAD

TurboCAD 2022 Deluxe contains 2D drafting, 3D surface modelling, photorealistic rendering, and other expert features. This strong alternative to AutoCAD is a good choice for users who are already familiar with it. To enhance efficiency and readability on better resolution displays, it has a customisable Ribbon Interface and compatibility for 4K monitors.

Key Features:

  • Time-saving wizards, a customizable UI, and support for XREF

  • Specifically designed mechanical engineering tools like 2D/3D Boolean operations, rotate, extrude, chain polyline and sweeps.

  • For 3D objects, there is an enhanced mirror copy tool

  • There are new 3D object and part highlights, better conceptual selection, slot tools, and many other features.


They have a deluxe package starting at $99.99, a professional package priced at $399.99, and a platinum subscription at $499.99.

3. Tinkercad

Tinkercad is among the greatest CAD programmes for creating straightforward 3D layouts and applications. It is employed by architects, doctors, professors, designers, and youngsters. Making a design that fits the user's needs is simple. Tinkercad is a popular choice among product engineers looking for a 3D printing solution.

Key Features:

  • It has features like various shapes that are available, grouping, and updated 3D models.

  • Tinkercad is a browser-based modelling application that is suitable for users of almost any experience level, including freshmen product engineers.

  • Many beginners turn to this programme since it is free, runs in your web browser, has a simple and logical interface, and is straightforward to use.


Using Tiinkercad is free of cost.

4. AutoCAD

AutoCAD enables the development of all kinds of buildings and things by allowing the creation and alteration of geometric models with practically endless potential.

Key Features:

  • AutoCAD has expanded beyond its typical use in the domains of engineering and architecture to include graphical and interior design.

  • At the moment, AutoCAD offers a wide range of specialised auxiliary tools that cover all industrial disciplines connected to 2D design and 3D modelling.

  • DWG, an AutoCAD native file type, holds all the details regarding the drawings, geometry, and photographs of the original document.

  • Due to the software's widespread use, alternative programmes to view and handle native AutoCAD files have been created using the DXF information exchange format (Drawing Exchange File).


They provide a free 30 day trial after which you can get the software starting at the cost of $235 a month.

5. Shapr3D

Shapr3D, the first expert CAD application for iPad and Apple Pencil, is now readily accessible on macOS and Windows. Siemens and Parasolid, the same technology that powers SOLIDWORKS, powers Shapr3D,

Key Features:

  • It provides a quick but accurate technique to build robust models.

  • With 2D drawings, you can produce concrete results. Simply prepare the technical drawings for your models, transmit these to your 3d printing machine or CNC milling machine, and then begin prototyping right away.

  • A freemium programme called Shapr3D allows you to design wherever you want and however you want. Depending on the features you require, you could choose from the various packages they offer.

  • Perfect for industrial designers, engineers, manufacturers, as well as other design experts. Shapr3D is also simple to learn.


Their basic package is free to use. You can purchase the pro package at $25 a month.

6. BricsCAD

BricsCAD is for everyone who creates, constructs, or manufactures things, and this is the cutting-edge, well-known, and reasonably priced CAD platform. It is a piece of software for technical documentation and design.As with other CAD software, BricsCAD can assist you in creating construction plans and paperwork, exploring design concepts, visualising ideas via digital renderings.

Key Features:

  • It helps in simulating how models behave in actual use.

  • It is designed to be relatively affordable, completely adaptable, and equipped with a LISP capability.

  • It has some incredible capabilities that increase productivity.

  • On a unified CAD platform, BricsCAD is offered in several editions. This indicates that all editions can operate on the same computer system or piece of software.


You can get a quote from their website.

7. VariCAD

VariCAD is a 3D/2D CAD programme mostly used for designing mechanical engineering components. Design professionals can develop, review, and alter models fast thanks to the extensive CAD programme.

Key Features:

  • The software is offered for sale as a single, "fully loaded" bundle that includes all of its features and capabilities.

  • VariCAD is one of the best options available right now thanks to its exceptional performance-to-price ratio.

  • German, Czech, English, Portuguese and Japanese versions of VariCAD are also available. One bundle includes all features.

  • The Graphical User Interface of ariCAD was created to enable rapid and simple 3D/2D orientation.

  • To capture and convey ideas with the fewest possible steps, it has been painstakingly customised and modified to mimic the thought pattern of a designer.


The starting price is $199 per user.


BRL-CAD is a potent constructive solid geometry modelling system with capabilities for image and signal processing as well as interactive geometry editing and ray tracing for rendering and geometric analyses.

Key Features:

  • There are thousands of unique features in BRL-CAD that were developed over many years. The ability to graphically display some of those properties is one advantage of a solid modelling system having integrated high-performance rendering.

  • The BRL-CAD software's capacity to create and analyse accurate models of complicated things is one of its main strengths.

  • A variety of features are available to inspect, prepare, verify, and validate geometry models. Measurements of thicknesses or distances can be made using single-ray sampling, and some 3D analysis is available.


This software is completely free to use.

9. SolveSpace

Solvespace is a compact application. It works well and loads quickly. A group of volunteers including Jonathan Westhues created this programme. Regardless of whether one is working on a 2D sketch, extrude, or assembly, the Solvespace user interface is static. As long as we continue to use the programme, the GUI and keyboard shortcuts remain the same.

Key Features:

  • Create solid models using parametric step-and-repeat, extruded or lathed sketches, Boolean operations, etc.

  • Distance restrictions, predicted distance, lengths measured in metres or inches, and other factors

  • Sketch sections utilising lines, circles, and different line styles, as well as six degrees of freedom controls from 3Dconnexion.

  • 3D wireframe export as DXF or STEP


This software is free to use.

10. DesignSpark Mechanical

DesignsSpark Mechanical is a 3D CAD system created to assist engineers and academic facilities in creating and exporting engineering drawing in STEP and IGES file formats using built-in 3D models.

Key Features:

  • It enables administrators to create online quotes and bills of materials using stock and price data.

  • It provides measurement tools that allow designers to assess the shape and size of developed creations. Businesses may build complex and realistic designs with the 3D sketch module.

  • Starting with DesignSpark Mechanical is simple. Compared to some of the other solutions, the user interface and features are considerably more understandable.

  • It is reassuring to see an interface without a cluttered screen full of icons and menu options.


This is free-to-use software .

11. Inventor

Autodesk Inventor is a potent combination of direct, freeform, and rule-based parametric design capabilities.For 3D mechanical design, modelling, visualisation, and documentation, engineers and designers have access to professional-grade Autodesk Inventor software.

Key Features:

  • Engineers may test the shape, fit, and functionality of the finished product before it is created by combining 2D and 3D data in a unified design environment with the help of the Inventor software.

  • With expert programmes, you receive integrated capabilities for machine design, layout, modelling, simulation, metal sheets, frame, tube, cable, and harness design, among other things.

  • Powerful parametric, direct edit, and freeform modelling tools, in addition to multi-CAD translation capabilities, and industry-recognized DWG drawings, are all included in Autodesk Inventor.

12. Patchwork 3D

Patchwork 3D demonstrates its value by enabling real-time rendering, which reduces design cycles, streamlines product configurations, and enables the creation of brand-new interactive experiences for clients through interoperability with virtual reality headsets.

Key Features:

  • Software called Patchwork 3D Enterprise enables users to transform CAD drawings into realistic 3D models for use in industry.

  • The software offers design, aviation, fashion, and automotive-specific creation features.

  • Through the use of creative and distinctive solutions, Patchwork 3D Business makes it simple to use authentic rendering to accelerate design cycles, discuss product layout and configuration with clients, or build your communication, marketing, and sales on gorgeous renders.


They have a basic version, which is free to use and a premium version as well. You can visit their website for a detailed breakdown of the versions’ features and decide which version suits your needs best.

13. Solid Edge ST9

Solid Edge makes generating 3D CAD models faster and simpler.It uses innovative synchronous technology, which combines the efficiency and simplicity of direct modelling with the control and flexibility of design models.

Key Features:

  • By making it simple to access expert 3D CAD on various devices, instantly configuring your CAD system to your preferences, and enabling swift data sharing throughout your design resources as well as with suppliers and clients, Solid Edge provides the cloud services you want.

  • Integrating 2D and 3D drawing allows you to start creating your concept designs right away, saving you time from tiresome planning. Because Solid Edge is a history-free method of 3D CAD, you can edit your design geometry immediately and quickly.


They have multiple plans starting from $75 per month.

14. SketchUp

SketchUp’s original goal was to develop 3D modelling software that was simple to use and available to everyone. It was created in 2000 by the startup "Last Software," which was eventually acquired by Google.

Trimble Inc. purchased the application in 2012. The platform has undergone significant development since it first launched, including new and sophisticated tools. However, its core characteristics of being user-friendly and simple to learn remain.

Key Features:

  • You can choose the licence plan that best meets your needs from among the several options offered by SketchUp.

  • It provides a SketchUp Free web-based version that is available for free but only permits non-commercial use.

  • Each feature can be accessed using the shortcut keys or the drop menu at the top. In summary, SketchUp's user interface is fairly simple and intuitive.


They have packages starting from $119 per year.

15. Meshlab

Meshlab is a 3D modelling programme that works with triangular meshes. It offers a selection of tools for texturing, converting, rendering, and cleaning and repairing meshes.

Key Features:

  • With Meshlab, users can prepare their 3D models for printing and process the raw data generated by 3D digitization equipment.

  • Given that it is free software and is compatible with Windows, OS X, and Linux, it is quite simple to access.

  • The programme is perfect for processing CAD software's raw data and generating 3D models for printing.

  • There are features like 3D model reconstruction, colour mappings and texturing model visualisation, and others. Overall, if you require 3D printing tools to fix and tidy up an unpleasant 3D print model, this is a fantastic option.


It is a free and open source software.

16. OpenSCAD

OpenSCAD is used to build reliable 3D CAD models. It focuses more on the CAD components of 3D modelling than the creative ones, unlike the majority of free tools for making 3D models.

Key Features:

  • It might be the programme you need if you intend to build 3D models of machine parts, but it's probably not what you need if you're more interested in making computer-animated movies.

  • It functions more like a 3D compiler that reads a script file containing the object's description and renders a 3D model from it.

  • Because of this the designer has entire authority over the model development and may quickly alter any stage or create designs with changeable parameters.


It is a free software.

17. Wings 3D

Wings 3D is used in both private and public applications, is free and open source. However, Wings 3D does not support animation. The application itself does not come with any tools for starting from scratch. In essence, Wings 3D can convert models made in other design environments to polygonal meshes, and then further develop them using subdivision polygons.

Key Features:

  • Linux, Mac, and Windows all support it. On their official website, you may get the newest edition of Wings 3D.

  • The file formats that this 3D modelling programme is compatible with are numerous.

  • Wide-ranging modelling tools, a user-customizable interface, capacity for lights and elements, and an integrated AutoUV mapping facility are all features of Wings 3D.


It is a free and open source software.

18. JS Sketcher

JS Sketcher is a CAD programme that you may use in your browser. Javascript was used to create this open-source parametric modelling application. If you are just starting with open-source programmes, it is easy software to use at present because there aren't many features, but you will still need some initial training.

Key Features:

  • This CAD tool is simple to use, and there are many features to explore, especially for people who are new to CAD.

  • This programme is highly promising, and all you need is a reliable internet connection—you don't even need to download any hefty CAD software files.

  • Using parametric CAD, you may build 3D models depending on several criteria, such as specifying a cube's origin and dimensions. In comparison, sculpting-style 3D modelling software is significantly more visually controlled.

  • Parametric modelling has the advantage of allowing for subsequent parameter changes and real-time model updates. Additionally, features can be mathematically defined to change one another.


It is an open source software which can be used for free.

19. Houdini

Houdini, a 3D modelling programme that excels at procedural generation and modelling for animation, is behind some of Hollywood's most mind-blowing scenes in hugely successful movies like Disney's Frozen.

Key Features:

  • Houdini is capable of creating models, but because of its Houdini Engines plug-in and dissemination mechanism, the programme also integrates effectively with other businesses' popular 3D modelling software.

  • Project components created in Houdini may be exported into applications like Cinema 4D and Maya for collaboration, acting as intelligent assets in a distributed workflow.

  • Its workflow offers a simple view of complex scenes and makes it possible for changes to spread all through the project with minimum user effort.

  • Procedural modelling technologies may make it simple to create vast assets that are homogeneous and have a sense of belonging according to the rules of the users.


It has multiple subscription plans starting from $175 per month.

20. Onshape

Onshape can help one innovate swiftly while working in synchronisation or not on projects with other parties on any web-enabled device.

Key Features:

  • Information can move freely throughout your company, keeping everyone in sync, without the restrictions of a conventional folder CAD check-in and check-out routine.

  • To power agile design processes at lower costs, Onshape is the first and sole cloud-native design and development platform that offers expert CAD abilities with next-generation Product Data Management (PDM).

  • Information can be freely exchanged between product development teams and Onshape-Arena Connection without the costs and administrative hassles of conventional CAD/PLM software connections.


You can a get a standard yearly package from $1500 or a professional pack for $2500.

Why are 3D CAD Tools Important?

  • If your clients can't picture everything you've designed, you're going to have problems when you're trying to obtain projects, finish jobs, or begin building. According to research, most people's spatial thinking abilities can't produce precise 3D reconstructions of 2D sketches when they aren't trained.

  • Everyone can see the project's entire extent thanks to 3D models. You may make walkthroughs and spot potential trouble areas early on using CAD software. Additionally, CAD offers superb spatial awareness.

  • You can make models that help you visualise your idea as it evolves by designing in three dimensions. These models can be employed to obtain crucial physical characteristics, simulate for optimum performance, produce physical prototypes and manufacturing parts, and produce drawings. You can utilise these components individually or as a whole to create a solution.

  • The designer can visualise the finished product and its component elements with the aid of 3D CAD software. The object can be animated to show how it will function, allowing the designer to make any necessary changes right away.

  • A speedier design process, reduced design costs, and shorter project completion times are all made possible by seeing the 3D model in operation and spotting design errors earlier.

  • Due to the lack of a constant need for paper and ink, 3D CAD software revisions are significantly simpler and more cost-effective than manual and 2D drafting.

  • Additionally, without altering the general design, any component may be individually modified, and modifications can be undone if necessary.

  • When it comes to organising and managing design assets and papers, 3D modelling in engineering improves your data management. It enables you to automate your process, improve output speed and accuracy, and standardise the detailing and drawing methods. Accurate material consumption, quick procurement, and efficient fabrication time are all benefits of auto ISO generation.

  • Every level of design and development, from concept through planning, precise designs, and documents for review, is facilitated by 3D CAD engineering.

  • There are numerous industry-leading designs and 3D modelling programmes with cutting-edge features that provide a wide range of tailored advantages depending on the size and intricacy of projects.

Wrapping Up

The versatility of 3D modelling software makes it a valuable tool that could benefit your company. The ability to create your project has actual benefits, and it can be applied to work in the fields of architecture, medicine, and even the fashion industry.

Using 3D modelling software can also assist you in improving your product design or gaining a better view of your project. Everything is feasible if you use the correct CAD tool, from technical drawings to sophisticated 3D models for mechanical engineering.


What are 3D CAD tools?

Using CAD (computer-aided design), a design can be made to be manufactured. It is the crucial application software where designers along with engineers turn conceptual sketches to three-dimensional models that may be immediately 3D printed or created using conventional manufacturing methods after being visualised, optimised, and simulated.

What should you consider while using 3D CAD tools?

It can be tempting to choose a CAD software based on its capabilities that are particularly appealing or new. It is crucial to assess whether those qualities truly represent game-changing innovations or radical breakthroughs rather than merely little but marginally beneficial advancements.

What is required for a CAD software to function?

One or maybe more design workstations, digital computer plotters, and printers make up the equipment for a typical CAD system.

What do you mean by the design process in CAD?

The iterative nature of the CAD design process guarantees design compatibility. It's essential to understand the design process in order to comprehend CAD adequately. There are six steps in the overall design process. Recognition of need is when someone acknowledges the need for a solution to a situation or problem.

How can the accuracy of CAD be checked?

AutoCAD models need to be drawn with exactitude. An overlay key can be used to verify the accuracy of the majority of the models you will be drawing for the lab activities in the 3D template. The title of the drawing for the lab activity for that model always includes the title of the key that you choose to check your model.

Top 20 3D CAD Tools

The world's biggest online directory of resources and tools for startups and the most upvoted product on ProductHunt History.