Choosing the Best CAD and Modeling Software

CAD software is an advanced modeling software to create sophisticated designs. Discover the benefits of CAD software and several top programs.

In order for a business to design a product, they must be able to create a model of the product. There are many methods to creating models. Some companies prefer to use physical 3D models to represent the product. While this method works for some industries, it is considered time consuming, especially since models often go through many changes during the creation process. Even if you are designing physical models, the basis for the model begins as a drawing. While a few models are still sometimes drawn by hand, most are created using Computer-Aided Designs (CAD).

CAD uses various software to create both 2D and 3D models. Some companies immediately use these models as design specs, while others take the CAD creation and use the specifications to create a physical model. There are many different CAD and modeling programs available, each with their own benefits. Listed below is everything you need to know about CAD and modeling design.

Saving Time with Modeling Software

If you have never designed models before, it is easy to underestimate all the benefits of modeling software versus creating models by hand. For designers, the biggest benefit is time. Creating designs with CAD is significantly faster than designing either physical models or drawing by hand. When you make a design, it has to be precise. You cannot make estimates, each shape and part must be a precise size or shape. With modeling software, you can save existing designs and easily make changes and adjustments without having to create a new project entirely.

Improving Productivity 

As part of saving time, you are also increasing productivity with CAD and modeling software. In the past, designers spent most of their time either redrawing or creating a new model as they received feedback. With modeling software, designers can simply open up the previous project and directly make changes. Designers can also save their previous models, which greatly speeds up production if you ever need to produce a similar product.

Productivity is also increased through the accuracy of modeling software. Many programs allow you to directly input measurements for the shape of your design. When you are drawing or creating physical models, you need to use exact measurements, which is harder to replicate without a computer program. This also leads to less errors overall, freeing up time for making new models.

Better Collaboration

If you are working with a larger team, using CAD software creates a standard model for all the designers to use. This allows multiple designers to work on the same project, using their shared knowledge of the software to make changes to the project. You can also share the project across other departments or branches. If you are designing an entirely new model, you can have multiple designers using the same software to produce several variants at once, choosing whichever is the best. Without CAD software, designers are going to use different methods which cannot easily be exchanged among other designers.

Choosing the Correct CAD Software

There are no shortage of modeling software to choose from. Some programs are designed with specific applications in mind, such as designing medical equipment or computer parts. If your design team works in a specialized industry, it makes sense to choose something relating to that field. However, usability is also a big concern. Modeling software may be designed for specific purposes, but if your designers are more comfortable using a generalized program, it makes sense to stick with what they already know. Learning a new design program can be time consuming, especially if you are trying to change programs for each project.

Another consideration is whether the software is actively supported. The more active the community, the more frequently the software is updated. Pricing is also a big factor. Some modeling software charges a flat fee, but most use a monthly or yearly subscription fee. While there are several free and open-source programs available, these programs are typically more limited than professional software. 

Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is an advanced CAD program with a great deal of customization, making it a good choice for beginners as well as advanced users. As of writing, many colleges use Fusion 360 as one of the go to modeling programs. The software also includes different manufacturing options once you are ready to complete your project. There are additional options for data management, running simulations with your designs, adding additional program extensions and even setting up group collaboration.

A free version is available with limited functionality. This effectively acts as a free trial, but if you want to unlock all of the features, you must pay $446 for a yearly subscription.


CorelCAD is a popular CAD program available for both Windows and Apple products. It can be used for both 2D drafting and 3D design. It is also compatible with a wide range of file types, including .CDR, .PDF, .DWG and .STL extensions. CorelCAD frequently updates their products as well, which is one of the reasons it has become an industry standard. If you are planning to work as a designer and are unsure which program to learn, CorelCAD is an excellent choice because even if the company does not use it, they will at least recognize your proficiency and understand you are a serious designer.

The cost varies depending on which version you want to use. Older versions of CorelCAD typically cost around $200, while the newest is around $400 to $700. CorelCAD typically provides a significant discount if you are upgrading from a previous version.


SOLIDWORKS is another industry standard for CAD software. While the program has many strengths, professional designers prefer SOLIDWORKS because it is compatible with so many other programs. This is especially helpful for freelancer designers, who work with multiple clients who all use their own software. 

SOLIDWORKS also has excellent collaboration options, allowing you to remote connect with other designers to work on a project at the same time. You can upload all of your designs to a cloud-based storage system. The program also has advanced troubleshooting and error analysis compared to other CAD software.

You must request a quote directly from SOLIDWORKs before purchasing any of their products. There are different versions available depending on your profession or industry, with additional options available for design students.