Top 10 CAD software in 2022: for design and engineering, for professionals and beginners

Software cad Software

Intro

From architects to civil engineers, from manufacturers to car designers – each of them requires professional CAD software. In the modern market, there are numerous CAD softwares that solve different problems. With so many drafting programs, it can be difficult to decide on the best one.  In this review, we will look at the main and popular computer-aided design software that may be useful to you. To make the choice easier for you, we have divided the CAD drafting systems into levels, platforms, and prices.

Best CAD programs 

NameCostLevelLast versionPlatformUsage
(Industry)
AutoCAD$1,775/year. Free trialFor professionals2021Windows, macOSEngineering, construction, architecture, and other
Inventor$2,190/year. Free trial for students and educatorsFor professionals2021WindowsProduct design, toolmaking, mechanical design, and product modeling
Fusion 360$495/year. Free for students, teachers and educatorsFor professionals and amateurs2021Windows, macOSDesign, engineering, electronics, and manufacturing
Revit$2,545/year. Free 1-year trial for students and educatorsFor professionals2022WindowsArchitecture, construction, engineering
SolidWorksFrom $1,295/yearFor professionals2021WindowsPlanning, modeling, design and building of mechanical, electrical, and software elements
CATIA$4,500/year. Free version for studentsFor professionals2020Windows, UnixAutomotive, aerospace, product design, engineering, assembly design
CreoFrom $2,430/licenseFor professionals and amateurs2020Windows, UnixEngineering, product design, virtual reality, automotive
Rhino€995/licenseFor professionals and amateurs2021Windows, macOS, LinuxVersatile 3D modeling
MicroStation$1,995/yearFor professionals2021WindowsArchitecture and engineering design, drafting
Siemens NXFrom $279/month. Free for studentsFor professionals and amateurs2019Windows, macOS, Linux, UnixMedical, product design and engineering, automotive, PLM

What is CAD software?

CAD stands for computer-aided design. A CAD – computer-aided design and drafting system is a complex set of tools developed to automate design. This is a voluminous concept that combines varieties of software in terms of complexity, type, and functionality. Thanks to CAD technology, automated processes have replaced manual drafting. If you are an architect, designer, engineer, or draftsman, you have probably heard or are familiar with CAD drafting software such as AutoCAD, Fusion 360, and others. Such popular CAD systems often turn out to be versatile and capable of performing several tasks.

CAD design software in details

1. AutoCAD

Autocad

Price: $1,775 per year. Free and fully-functional version to download for students and faculty

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows, macOS, Linux

Use: CAD in engineering, construction, architecture, etc

AutoCAD is a basic CAD program developed and supplied by Autodesk. Autodesk AutoCAD software is the most widely used CAD solution in the world, allowing you to design in both 2D and 3D environments. With AutoCAD design system, you can build 3D models, create and format drawings, and much more. As the AutoCAD program is a platform CAD, this system does not have a clear focus on a specific project area. This CAD computer program can be used to carry out construction, machine-building projects, work with surveys, electrics, and much more.

CAD system offers many tutorials. With AutoCAD, you have everything you need to design your 3D drawing and 3D models. Although, AutoCAD drafting software is not as intuitive as some products designed specifically for creating 3D drawings. This CAD tool can be used for almost any type of drawing. Besides, Autodesk develops some versions of AutoCAD drawing software (AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD Electrical) which are intended for experts of the corresponding direction. AutoCAD programs also include ProSteel AutoCAD, AutoCAD LT, and Web.

Pros:

  • Extensive customization and adaptation options
  • Creating applications tools in built-in languages and using APIs
  • The abundance of third-party programs
  • Sends feedback directly to a DWG file
  • Automates block counting
  • 3D navigation and rendering in a CAD system
  • 2D drafting, annotations, and drawings
  • External links and block palettes
  • 3D models can be easily converted into STL files for 3D printing.

Cons:

  • High price
  • There is no function for reading drawings made in other graphic editors
  • Build history is not supported
  • There is no 3D parametrization
  • Installation technical requirements are quite high.

2. Inventor

Inventor logo

Price: $2,190 per year. Free trial for students and educators

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows

Use: Product design, toolmaking, mechanical design, and product modeling

It is a professional 3D CAD software by Autodesk. This basic drafting software offers a professional complex for the 3D design of industrial products and documentation. For efficient product development management, engineering data management, and project collaboration, Autodesk Inventor can be integrated with Autodesk Vault PLM and similar systems from other vendors. This CAD engineering software has extensive libraries of standard and frequently used items.

This CAD designing program offers advanced 3D modeling tools, including free form and direct editing technology. You have the ability to integrate with Autodesk programs – AutoCAD, 3ds Max, Alias, Revit, Navisworks, and others, which allows you to use Inventor to solve problems in various areas, including design, architectural design, etc. The drafting and design software has two varieties: Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Inventor Professional. The former allows users to create detailed drawings, assemblies, and CAD models. The professional version adds modeling and tooling capabilities.

Pros:

  • 2D/3D modeling
  • Creation of products from sheet material and obtaining their development
  • Development of electrical and piping systems
  • Dynamic modeling
  • Visualization of products
  • Automatic receipt and updating of design documentation (registration according to ESKD).

Cons:

  • Drawing saved in DWG format will take up more disk space
  • Confusion with opening drawings with AutoCAD
  • Lack of smoothness in the process of transferring data between programs
  • To take full advantage of the drafting CAD, a powerful PC is required.

3. Fusion 360

Fusion 360

Price: $495 per year. Free for students, teachers, and educators

Level: For professionals and amateurs

OS: Windows, macOS

Use: Design, engineering, electronics, and manufacturing

CAD Fusion 360 is focused on solving a wide range of problems, from simple modeling to complex calculations. Fusion 360 is a cloud-based CAD platform that provides an affordable, high-performance alternative to other similar software products. It is easy to use CAD and drafting program, which has all the features that popular CAD packages contain. Fusion 360 can be used for design, rendering, animation, modeling, manufacturing, and drafting.

This computer-aided drafting software has a very large knowledge base that fully covers all the features of the software. These tutorials can be accessed through both Fusion 360 and the Autodesk website. There is also an official Autodesk Fusion 360 YouTube channel with many free tutorials. The CAD drafting program is updated frequently and new features appear every few months.

Pros:

  • Advanced user interface
  • Combination of different modeling methods
  • Advanced assembly tools
  • Ability to work online and offline
  • Affordable acquisition and maintenance costs
  • Calculations, optimization, visualization of models
  • Embedded CAM system
  • Possibilities of direct output of models for 3D printing.

Cons:

  • This drafting design software can be especially confusing for those not used to 3D modeling or CAD tools
  • The user interface can be a bit confusing at first
  • Lots of unlabeled buttons that take time to get used to.

4. Revit

Revit logo image

Price: $2,545 per year. Free 1-year trial for students and educators

Level: For professionals 

OS: Windows

Use: Architecture, construction, engineering

Revit is another Autodesk CAD software for architectural and construction design based on Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology. CAD application for industrial and civil construction. A CAD system software tailored for building information modeling. One of the oldest computer programs on the market and one of the most popular. 

With the wide functionality of designers’ opportunities at different stages of work, different specialists can work simultaneously. The generated Revit models coordinate information perfectly, ensuring quality control and efficiency. Automated execution of various routine tasks. This engineering CAD software has a set of tools for creating 3D building models.

Pros:

  • Huge market demand
  • Full connection with all Autodesk products
  • Supports a cross-industry design process in a collaborative environment
  • Engineering systems design is available 
  • Effective demonstration of projects
  • A large base of ready-made objects 
  • Convenient configuration of library elements.

Cons:

  • It seems like a complex program with a lot of commands and options
  • Windows only, therefore, cannot be installed on Mac
  • For full-fledged work, you need to create and customize many options for your tasks, which takes a lot of time
  • A powerful processor is required
  • Large file weight.

5. SolidWorks

Solidworks logo

Price: From $1,295 per year.

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows

Use: Planning, modeling, design and building of mechanical, electrical, and software elements

CAD product package for automating the design work of an industrial enterprise. The developer is Dassault Systemes. SOLIDWORKS 2022 is effective in design, documentation, data management, and verification. CAD drafting software provides the development of products of any degree of complexity and purpose.

SOLIDWORKS allows you to model individual parts, assemble them, perform various calculations, prepare design documentation, and create photorealistic renderings of finished products. The computer-aided design program offers numerous tutorials and software tutorials for users of all levels.

Pros:

  • Convenient user interface
  • Many add-ons for special tasks
  • Orientation to both design and technological preparation of production
  • Libraries of standard elements
  • Integration with SolidWorks PDM.

Cons:

  • Not a high specification design tool
  • Does not allow rendering of other programs such as CATIA
  • Program files are incompatible with many drafting applications
  • No 3D sketch.

6. CATIA

Catia logotype

Price: $4,500 per year. Free version for students

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows, Unix

Use: Automotive, aerospace, product design, engineering, assembly design

CATIA is a computer-assisted design (CAD) system from the French company Dassault Systèmes. CATIA is a great CAD program because its abbreviation even stands for Computer-Aided Three-Dimensional Interactive Application. The software can be used for CAD, CAE, and CAM, making it very useful for architects, designers, mechanical engineers, and other industry professionals. But most often, CATIA is used in the aviation industry. Once models are created, CATIA allows developers to assemble details and view model interactions in realistic simulations and high quality.

This computer-aided drafting software allows you to develop 3D models of complex products, associative drawings of parts and assembly units, supports work with large assemblies, associative links between a 3D model and its projections on drawings, includes surface modeling tools, and digital layout (DMU) tools.

Pros:

  • Orientation to working with models of complex shapes
  • Deep integration with settlement and technological systems
  • Opportunities for the collaboration of thousands of users on a single project
  • Excellent design system for bent sheet metal parts
  • Facilitates preparation for the stage of rapid prototyping
  • Conversion to STL is supported
  • Well-implemented functions for working with surfaces.

Cons:

  • It takes a long time to learn, it’s hard to get used to, especially after AutoCAD
  • Quite complex and unusual interface
  • The blueprint module is weak
  • Requires significant PC resources
  • The system is complex, not for beginners
  • Requires more modeling steps than other computer-aided design cad programs.

7. Creo CAD

Creo logo

Price: From $2,430 per license

Level: For professionals and amateurs

OS: Windows, Unix

Use: Engineering, product design, virtual reality, automotive 

2D and 3D parametric design system for complex products from PTC. PTC Creo CAD is widely used in a wide variety of design areas. Creo integrates many features such as thermal, structural motion, parametric and freeform surfacing, and direct modeling. This CAD engineering software provides a free 30-day trial. Ideal for: 3D modeling and product design and engineering, automotive, virtual reality. The data can be presented in the form of visualizations or 2D drawings.

With such computer drafting programs, you can create complex models with a huge amount of detail. PTC Creo makes it easy to create a 3D model from 2D drawings. Both are updated automatically, changes made in 3D appear in 2D and vice versa. The PTC Creo Flexible Modeling Extension (FMX), included with PTC Creo Parametric, – is a powerful set of direct modeling tools that allows you to quickly make changes to parametric and non-Creo models. This easy drafting software includes core sheet metal design capabilities that save you time and control every step of the way. And all this can be done quickly, as the tool is easy to use.

Pros:

  • History-based modeling
  • Direct modeling tools
  • Working with complex surfaces
  • Pretty simple drafting program
  • Scalability.

Cons:

  • The user interface of the CAD design program is made in the old style
  • It confuses the database connection
  • The file size of the generated model is large
  • It’s a bit difficult to learn due to its promotion.

8. Rhino

Rhino logo image

Price: €995 per license

Level: For professionals and amateurs

OS: Windows, macOS, Linux

Use: Versatile 3D modeling

It is a commercial 3D computer graphics and CAD software. The CAD design program for the development, analysis, documentation, rendering and animation of 3D models in the fields of computer-assisted design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), rapid prototyping, 3D printing, architecture, industrial design and product design. This CAD modeling software offers a wide range of tools for modeling, rendering, editing, 3D capture, drafting, and analysis.

The CAD platform offers great flexibility in creating complex 3D models. Rhino allows you to create, edit, analyze curves, surfaces and solids, and fully work with NURBS objects. This computer-aided design (CAD) software effectively works with objects of any complexity and size. You can create and edit any combination of curves, surfaces, geometric bodies, and then export the created models to any format.

Pros:

  • You can add dimensions to a viewpoint
  • Import files from various sources including SketchUp, STL, AutoCad, etc.
  • Displays 3D model control points
  • Workflow documentation
  • API refinement.

Cons:

  • The application is not very good at drafting
  • The learning curve is  time-consuming and very steep
  • Too many commands for simple rough work
  • Difficult to learn.

9. MicroStation

Micro station logo

Price: $1,995 per year

Level: For professionals

OS: Windows 

Use: Architecture and engineering design, drafting

CAD platform containing all the necessary basic design tools. Used by architects and engineers to visualize, model, create drawings, and document designs. This draft program has a set of standard styles that are always visible; there is no need to set the scale for the line style, a built-in system for editing and creating styles. The drafting app offers extensive opportunities for collaboration on the project, multiple models support in one project, the ability to connect an unlimited number of other project files.

MicroStation enables project team collaboration, including work on designs and models created using BIM applications. As a result, you can create complex universal BIM models and produce project documentation. Since the project team works in a universal modeling application, all participants will be able to easily communicate, share results and maintain data integrity. A computer-aided design tool is based on a single integrated modeling platform.

Pros:

  • Native support for DGN and DWG files
  • A robust 3D modeling toolkit
  • Ability to visualize and analyze data on models
  • Great drafting software for PC
  • BIM workflows.

Cons:

  • Difficulty learning how to use the software
  • The user interface is not very intuitive and user-friendly
  • Pipe profiles are difficult to draw and do not update automatically.

10. Siemens NX

Siemens nx

Price: From $279 per month. Free for students

Level: For professionals and amateurs

OS: Windows, macOS, Linux, UNIX

Use: Medical, product design and engineering, automotive, PLM

NX from Siemens is a flexible and powerful integrated solution that helps you bring new products to market faster and more efficiently. The CAD tool is used to develop complex products that include elements with a complex shape. NX is a well-known CAD / CAM / CAE system, which includes many modules for modeling, engineering calculations, design, programming, production preparation.

NX supports all stages of product development, from concept and design to manufacturing. This set of tools allows you to harmonize work across disciplines, ensure data integrity, preserve design intent, and streamline your entire workflow.

Pros:

  • Complete Simulation Solution
  • Multiple operating systems support 
  • Simultaneous work of numerous users within the same project
  • Advanced industrial design tools
  • Simple drafting software
  • Extensive modeling tools.

Cons:

  • The user interface must be optimized according to the design requirements
  • If your Teamcenter is connected to a server, you cannot access it remotely.

Conclusion

Currently, there are a variety of modern computer-aided design CAD programs on the market, which differ from each other both in functionality and cost. Choosing the right CAD system among the many CAD programs is not an easy task. When making a decision, it is necessary to focus on the needs of the enterprise, the tasks that users face, the cost of acquiring and maintaining the system, and many other factors. In this article we have given you a list of the best CAD drafting software in 2022, and told about their features, pros and cons.

Author of Applet 3D articles. In passion about art, so writing about design, architecture, the animation is a great chance to enjoy my work. Rule of life - set little goals but achieve big results.

Rate author
Request callback
Form successfully submitted
Request callback

Your form has been succesfully submitted!
Please, check if info you provided is correct:

Thank you!
Rating
5.0
Read our 12 reviews
What our customers say
Rating
5.0
12 reviews
Write a review
Cassandra Brunson
4 months ago
Applet3D has allowed me to present high quality and professional renderings to my clients. Emma and Julie are both quick to respond and go far beyond to help me meet deadlines. Communicating ideas are easy. They just get it!!!! My clients and I are extremely satisfied with their work. Applet3D has far exceeded my expectations!!!! Excellent Customer Service and Superior Talent!
Posted on Google
Brandon Neff
4 months ago
I have been using them for several months to help me elevate my design presentations and I couldn’t be happier with their work. Both Rene and Julie are a pleasure to partner with. Excellent quality renderings, great responsiveness to edits and special requests and very professional team. I recommend them highly!
Posted on Google
John Doran
3 months ago
Working with Julie and Emma was a pleasure. They delivered high quality renderings utilizing the exact furnishings we will be using in the model home for our new 26 home project. True professionals and great timely service.
Posted on Google
steve ashby
7 months ago
Working with Rene and Julie and the rest of the staff has been great. They are quick to respond with answers to questions and very professional to work with. I would highly recommend working with them. Definitely worth a phone call to hear what they have to offer. Very happy.
Posted on Google
Amanda Reid
8 months ago
I'm a designer and hired Applet3D to prepare some 3d renderings for my client and was beyond impressed. The renderings excellent quality and perfectly convey my design. The team was very responsive, professional and a easy to work with. Quick turn around and fairly priced. I plan to use them again and would definitely recommend them for all of your 3D needs.
Posted on Google
Show more