Fusion 360 vs Rhino: Which is Best Fit For Your Needs

Fusion 360 vs Rhino

When it comes to CAD programs, you certainly have a choice from a variety of software that can do an excellent job with fair pricing and helpful support. Two of the most affordable CAD and 3D modeling programs out there are Autodesk Fusion 360 and Rhino 3D. What are the differences between these two?

Main Differences Between Fusion 360 vs Rhino

The main differences between Fusion 360 vs Rhino are:

  • Fusion 360 is cloud-based, whereas Rhino 3D needs to be installed on your computer.
  • Fusion 360 excels when you need to collaborate, whereas Rhino 3D is easier to learn.
  • Fusion 360 is better suited for 2D drawings and 3D models, whereas Rhino 3D does a better job at 3D modeling.
  • Fusion 360 makes it easy to do simple animations on your models, whereas Rhino 3D only lets you manipulate the angle of the camera and the lighting.
  • Fusion 360 has a free trial available, whereas Rhino 3D doesn’t offer a free trial.
  • Fusion 360 is more affordable for short-term projects with its $500 subscription fee, whereas you can save with Rhino 3D in the long run because you pay $1,000 to use the program outright.

While these two programs differ on these points, both are excellent options for those who are looking for an easy way to flesh out their design ideas. Learn what each of these programs can do and figure out which one is perfect for you. Go ahead, grab a comfortable chair and continue reading!

What Is Fusion 360?

Fusion 360 is a different type of CAD software in that it lives in the cloud instead of needing to be installed on your machine. As such, it delivers its features and functionalities where you need them.

Fusion 360

With Fusion 360, you can design products to make sure that they fit to form. You can also revise your designs faster and easier.

Fusion 360 also allows you to know if it is feasible to manufacture your design.

3D modeling

Fusion 360 gives you a comprehensive range of tools for 3D modeling. These tools allow you to easily create a 3D model and see if it will fit the overall design. Some of the 3D modeling tools you can use are:

  • Sketching: These tools allow you to create and revise your sketches with specific dimensions and constraints. You also get a variety of tools that can help you create sketches easily.
  • Direct modeling: You can repair or edit objects created with other programs and save them in other file formats.
  • Surface modeling: You can now create complex surfaces that can help patch, repair, or design various shapes and geometry
  • Parametric modeling: This allows you to change the shape and geometry of a model just by changing the dimension values.
  • Mesh modeling: Create, edit, and repair mesh models.
  • Freeform modeling: Gives you the freedom to design complex models and then edit them just by using pushing or pulling gestures.
  • Rendering: You can create realistic-looking models.
  • PCB design: This gives you an easy way to see how your electronics designs work.
  • Sheet metal: You can now create sheet metal parts

Other Features

People might know Fusion 360 as a precise modeling software for both 2D and 3D designs. But it can do so much more, such as:

  • Prepare your models for CNC machining
  • Simulate how loads affect your design
  • Render your models
  • Prototyping

Fusion 360 supports computer-aided manufacturing, so if CNC machining is your thing, you’d appreciate the features that it has. You can use Fusion 360 and then add the attributes of your tools to the ones provided by the program. You can even see how the CNC machine would create the object you’re designing so you’d be able to avoid costly problems in production.

If you like to see how your models would look like, you can render it too. You can assign a particular material to your design, including wood, metal, marble, or glass. You can make your models look photorealistic.

Another feature of Fusion 360 is the animation. This program allows you to do some keyframe animation, so you can see how your designs move.

You can also try load simulation, where you can see how different weights would affect your design, where the stress points are, and get a better understanding of how your design will perform.

Other than 3D modeling, Fusion 360 allows you to program your computer numerical control machines. You can now create with difference axis milling, mill turning, probing, and other tools.

Electronics is also a breeze with Fusion 360. It allows you t to work with different tools that can simplify PCB layouts and schematic designs, among other things.

Other industries and tasks that Fusion 360 will be helpful in are additive manufacturing, generative design, simulation, and documentation.

Collaboration

Fusion 360 also makes data management and collaboration a whole lot easier. So you can work in teams without the hassle of sending files from one person to another and waiting on the others to finish their work.

You have a way to securely view the designs your team is working on. All changes are centralized, and you can leave comments on each design for everyone to see.

What’s more, all projects and their comments are viewable with only a browser, a smartphone, or tablet.

Extensions

Autodesk offers different extensions for:

  • Machining
  • Generative Design
  • Nesting and Fabrication
  • Additive Builds

These extensions allow you to get the latest tools you need for the job. Because these are essentially add-ons, you will not be paying too much for the main Fusion 360 program.

These extensions cost $200 per month, except for generative design extensions that cost $1,000 a month.

This lengthy video will show you what you can do with Autodesk Fusion 360.

Pricing

Autodesk Fusion 360 has two pricing packages that you can get. There’s the monthly package where you only pay $60 per month to use Fusion 360.

There’s also the yearly subscription that costs $495, which cuts the monthly fee to only $42. Autodesk offers a free trial that lasts 30 days. Students, teachers, startups, and other professionals may qualify to use the free version of this program.

What You’d Like About Fusion 360

For design, engineering, and other technical design needs, you really can’t go wrong with Fusion 360. You have all the tools that you’d want and need to create your models. What’s more, you can collaborate with a team when you’re working on a project.

One of the things that are often praised about this software is the amazing support that comes with it. People are raving about the responsive and helpful customer service. What’s more, it has a thriving online community, available documentation, video tutorials, and others.

What Might Be Better

Some users, even expert CAD developers, find this difficult to learn. The difficulty means that you’d need a lot of time to learn this software. If you’re serious about 3D modeling and would see yourself using Fusion 360, it is worth investing the time to learn it.

Fusion 360: The Bottom Line

Autodesk Fusion 360 is an excellent 3D computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing tool that can easily help your design people collaborate on a project.

It offers you all of the tools you need to do your work and is backed by a lively and helpful online community that creates content and tutorials that can help you learn this somewhat challenging program.

The company provides a lot of help, as well. Outstanding customer service is one of its strongest selling points. The helpful customer service and resources are good, as some users report that Fusion 360 is not easy to learn, but others say that it’s easy to use.

Pricing starts at $60 per month for every user, or you can save with an annual subscription at $500. There are free versions for students and a free trial for those who want to see if Fusion 360 is perfect for them.

Pros

  • Easy to learn and helpful customer support
  • You can easily create a prototype without taking too long
  • You get the tools to create the designs you want

Cons

  • Might not have all the functions or features that you can get from competitors
  • You’re somewhat limited by the speed of your Internet connection because it’s cloud-based
  • Mac users might have a hard time using this program
  • Compared to AutoCAD and Inventor, this is not an easy product to use

See how Fusion 360 compares to other software alternatives:

What Is Rhino 3D?

Rhino 3D is one of the better computer-aided design software that can help you create industrial, architectural, and jewelry designs with ease. You can quickly create prototypes and help you visualize your ideas in no time.

Rhino 3D

Rhino 3D is ideal for those professional designers who like to design using the NURBS mathematical model. You can use it for additive manufacturing, reverse engineering, rapid prototyping, CAD, and CAM. What you get from Rhino is a mathematically accurate design, allowing you to get smoother and more precise freeform drawings and curves.

What Can You Get from Rhino 3D?

Rhino 3D has a user interface that allows you to see all the tools you need and work most easily. You get a dockable or floating command area and a list of recent commands you used, among other things. You also have construction aids that can help make your design time a whole lot faster.

Rhino’s set of model creation tools allow you to work with points, curves, surfaces, solids, and meshes. Plus, the program gives you the refinements and enhancements you need to do your best work.

You also get editing tools that allow you to delete, join, trim, merge, split, extend, chamfer, fillet, and other ways to directly manipulate an object. You can also transform your objects, along with other ways to manipulate your models.

Highlights of Rhino’s Many Features

Rhino boasts of many features that it’s going to take a long time to list down. But what follows here is a short rundown of the most important ones you should know:

  • Free-form tools: Rhino gives you a range of free-from tools to make 3D modeling easier. Before Rhino, these tools were only available in programs that were so much more expensive. You now have access to tools that lets you create everything you can think of.
  • Accurate rendering: Rhino’s formidable set of tools helps you create accurate models so you can come to create prototypes and designs for manufacturing, cost analysis, and engineering.
  • Cross-platform compatibility: This allows you to use Rhino to work on designs and models from other CAM, illustration, and animation software. You can also work with meshes.
  • Easy to learn: There are no steep learning curves with Rhino, which allows you to start working on your designs even if it’s your first time using a CAD program.

Rhino Pricing

Rhino costs $995 for a single-user license. However, if you are using an older version of the software, you only need to spend $595 to upgrade to the latest one.

For the academe, pricing is deeply discounted to only $195. You can also pay only $95 to upgrade for a single-user license.

What You Will Like About Rhino 3D

Rhino is very easy to learn and use. It’s not a subscription product, so you pay to use a particular version of the product forever. It has a command-line where you have another way to interact with the models you are creating.

Rhino is simple too. You can start with a simple and straightforward sketch and then manipulate it to your liking. But what makes Rhino more appealing is the fact that you can create add-ons to get more out of the program.

You will also love the clean user interface that you can personalize according to your liking. Rhino is primarily a surface modeling program, but it’s flexible enough for use in other designs. It’s compatible with STL, STEP, Solidworks, AutoCAD, IGES, DXF, SketchUp, and OBJ files, among others.

What You Should Know About Rhino 3D

Don’t get us wrong. Rhino 3D is very easy to use, and learning how to use it is a very straightforward process. However, it offers a lot of tools. The range and variety of the tools being offered will mean that it will take you some time to master this program.

What’s more, you buy the license to a particular version of Rhino 3D. You might need to pay for the next version.

Rhino 3D moddeling

The Bottom Line: Rhino 3D

It’s easy to recommend Rhino 3D to people who are looking for an easy-to-use, accurate, and fast 3D design program. Interior designers, jewelry makers, and other industries that need image renderings, prototypes, and packaging can rely on Rhino 3D to help them deliver their ideas into something visual.

Pros

  • Extensible with add-ons
  • Affordable one-time fee
  • Easy to use and learn
  • Excellent customer service and online community

Cons

  • It’s easy to be overwhelmed because of the sheer number of tools
  • Some extensions might not integrate properly with the main program

Which One Should You Use: Rhino 3D or Autodesk Fusion 360?

Both Rhino and Fusion 360 are capable and powerful programs that can help you create 3D models. But which one is perfect for you?

Fusion 360 lives on the cloud, allowing you to access the program and your designs from anywhere if you have a browser and an Internet connection. Rhino 3D is installed on your machine, which makes it less portable than Fusion 360. You’d be limited to working on your computer to create your designs.

Fusion 360 is excellent when you create both 2D and 3D models. Rhino 3D can be used for 2D models, but most of its features are for accurate and precise 3D modeling.

What Kind of Tools Do They Offer?

Fusion 360 gives you tools that allow you to do parametric, polygonal, and surface modeling. You will need to combine these tools to get the results you need. Rhino 3D is based on non-uniform rational B-splines or NURBS modeling.

If you do a lot of animation, you might be better off using Fusion 360 with its keyframe animation features. Rhino 3D has very limited animation tools, where you can only move the lighting or the view of your models. Rendering an animation on Rhino 3D can take a lot longer than on Fusion 360.

Image rendering on Fusion 360, you just drag and drop the patch icon over your model to change its properties. You can set the material, quality, and environment from a flyout toolbar.

With Rhino 3D, you will get color images with bumps, textures, transparency, and light. You can add the light, choose a material for your objects, and then repeat the process to get the look you want.

Fusion 360 is preferred by those who work with electronics, mechanical design, furniture making, and aerospace design. Rhino is more for those who like industrial and architectural designs. You can also use it to create jewelry and accessories.

Pricing

You can use Fusion 360 for free if you’re a teacher or student, a hobbyist, or a small non-profit business with yearly revenues of less than $100,000. If not, you can use it by subscribing to the product for around $500 a year.

Rhino 3D doesn’t have a free version or a free trial. You’d need to pay $995 to use the program for life.

So, Which One Should You Choose?

When it comes to tools and features, it seems that Rhino 3D is on an equal footing with Fusion 360. So your decision on which one to choose will largely depend on what you prefer.

You should go with Fusion 360 if you’re part of a design team and you need to collaborate on a project. The online environment will help facilitate teamwork while reading and keeping track of all the notes and comments on the design.

Go with Rhino 3D if you want a more accurate model and you like software that you don’t have to pay for year after year. What’s more, Rhino 3D is for those who work on architectural and industrial design.

Meanwhile, Fusion 360 is great for working with furniture, electronics, mechanical, and aerospace models.

What is the NURBS mathematical model?

Non-uniform rational B-splines or NURBS are a way to present 3D geometry using numbers. This mathematical representation can easily describe shapes such as curves, arcs, lines, and circles.

Why should you use NURBS for computer-aided modeling?

  • You can create your models using NURBS, and rest assured they can be opened and accessed by a variety of rendering, animation, engineering, and modeling programs.
  • The mathematical representation is very precise, so you can work with both standard shapes and free-form objects.
  • NURBS is taught at many colleges and universities, so finding talent is easy.

Are there alternatives to both Fusion 360 vs Rhino 3D?

You might have a variety of reasons for not wanting to use either Rhino 3D or Fusion 360. Lucky for you, you have an option to choose from quite a few programs that you can use as an alternative to Fusion 360 and Rhino 3D. Here are some of them and why you should consider using them.

SolidWorks

Fusion 360 Rhino Alternative

Just like its name, this program has been a solid contender in the CAD/CAM space. Its forte is 3D modeling and engineering design. SolidWorks allows you to document all individual parts and create new ones that you can use for your object. If you need to animate or render your designs, there are extensions and add-ons that you can use.

Simulations are excellent, and you can create really detailed models with SolidWorks.

This program offers a lot of features, more than Fusion 360. These features might add more complexities, especially when you’re learning. It doesn’t have a sculpt mode.

However, SolidWorks can be expensive with tiered pricing starting at around $4,000 and can reach around $18,000 for businesses to use.

  • More information and download it here.
  • Price: $3,995, with discounts for educators and students

Read our full Fusion 360 vs Solidworks Comparison

Onshape

Oneshape

If you’re trying to find another cloud-based solution, then you should look at Onshape. This program is also 100-percent accessible online but allows for stress-free collaboration. Onshape is perfect for beginners too. The features it offers focus on CAD. That is to say that if you need to do some CAE or CAM work, then you should look elsewhere.

Beginners will also love it that there’s a ton of content available for learning Onshape. Combine those resources with the innate simplicity of Onshape, and you’d be learning CAd in no time.

Onshape costs $1,500 annually, but students and teachers can use it for free.

  • More information and download it here.
  • Price:$1,995

SketchUp

Sketchup

SketchUp holds the distinction of having been once owned and developed by the search giant Google. Sketchup is free to use. You only pay when you want to use plugins. There’s also a professional application that supports STL export.

You will like SketchUp if your work is focused on CAD, but you might want to use another program to do 3D printing or CNC machining.

  • More information and download it here.
  • Price: $299 annually, but there is a free version

Creo

Creo

Creo gives you all the necessary features of an excellent CAD program and continues to update the range of functionalities that you can get with it.

Creo offers parametric modeling, animations, rendering, augmented reality, and ergonomic simulations. After you have designed your model, you can get a list of materials you’re going to need to create the product.

Creo also gives you the chance to do some advanced analyses and simulations on your models.

Like SolidWorks, Creo might be a pricier alternative, especially for Rhino 3D. You can get a basic license for $2,200, but more expensive packages include more tools for simulations and machining.

What’s more, the user interface can be very confusing. This program might be more ideal for industry professionals than the at-home hobbyist.

  • More information and download it here.
  • Price: $2,200

SolveSpace

Solvespace

If you’re a Linux user, then you’re probably out of luck with both Fusion 360 and Rhino 3D. However, give SolveSpace a try.

This program is for Linux users and offers a wide range of tools for you to do some serious CAM and 3D modeling. But it’s also available for Mac and Windows. What’s more, it’s open-source and free to use.

It’s also very straightforward, and learning how to use SolveSpace should be as easy, if not easier, than learning Rhino 3D.

Features-wise, you won’t miss anything by using SolveSpace, even if you’ve been using Rhino or Fusion 360. You get parametric 3D modeling, 2D sketching, STL repair, and Boolean operations. You can prepare G-code and export it into a variety of file types.

However, you might want to consider another program if you need to do some simulations or stress tests. This free program can also have performance drawbacks when doing boolean operations and complicated drawings.

  • More information and download it here.
  • Price: Free

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we answer our readers’ most-asked questions.

Question: What are the main differences between CAD and CAM?

Answer: Computer-aided design is when you use a computer to make 2D drawings and 3D models. It’s when you showcase your part’s geometry.

On the other hand, computer-aided manufacturing is when you use computers to control machine tools when making the parts you designed. CAM is more closely associated with turning your design and ideas into real-world products.

To make this easier to understand, you will create models with your CAD software and then use that model to instruct machines on how to create the CAD-generated model you have.

Fusion 360 vs Rhino 3D: Final Thoughts

Sometimes, two programs are both excellent, that it’s difficult to make a clear recommendation and tell people to use one over the other. Fusion 360 and Rhino 3D are two of these programs.

But now that you know what each one offers, what they’re good at, and which users can benefit more from what they’re offering, you can decide for yourself which one is perfect for your needs.

You can’t go wrong with either Rhino 3D or Fusion 360.

Bricscad vs AutoCAD: Which Serves Your Purpose Best?

Bricscad vs AutoCAD

If you are wondering which is better between BricsCAD vs AutoCAD then this comparison is going to tell you everything you need to know.

Both of these programs are computer-aided design software that is mainly used in architecture, engineering, and construction industries. However, many different sectors utilize the power that these programs offer.

We are going to explore their features, differences, how they compare in terms of pricing and ease of use and we’ll also show you some alternatives too. By the end of this comparison, you will know which CAD software is the better one to use.

Main Differences Between BricsCAD vs AutoCAD

The main differences between AutoCAD vs BricsCAD are:

  • BricsCAD allows you to buy a perpetual license, whereas AutoCAD does not
  • AutoCAD uses more computer power, whereas BricsCAD which is quite lightweight
  • BricsCAD is easier to use, whereas AutoCAD has a steep learning curve
  • AutoCAD has a mobile app that allows you to edit DWG files, whereas BricsCAD does not
  • AutoCAD has been around since the 1980s, whereas BricsCAD was founded in 2002

Exploring BricsCAD and AutoCAD features

autocad

BricsCAD and AutoCAD both serve similar functions in terms of creating models and designs. These are the main features of both these two pieces of software.

Drawing and design

The main function of these two programs is to aid with drawing and design. They are both used quite extensively in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries.

AutoCAD provides a wealth of options to create 2D designs. It is similar to doing this on paper (albeit digitally) and it allows for free form drawing. In fact, AutoCAD does allow for a great degree of flexibility when creating designs. There is also 3D functionality with AutoCAD for example with 3D modeling and visualization. While this wasn’t initially built into AutoCAD, it has emerged as a key function.

BricsCAD is very similar. It too has both 2D drawing and 3D modeling capabilities. It works really well in a traditionally 2D drawing environment while also extending into 3D as well. The AI tools that BricsCAD uses helps to enhance the overall workflow by optimizing both 3D designs and 2D drawings.

Customizable Options

Having a custom experience with CAD software can really make a difference in how quickly and efficiently you can create your drawings and models.

AutoCAD does offer very good customizable options. This includes being able to organize support and drawing files, display the tools you use frequently, create aliases for commands, and also customize the user interface. This allows you to create a layout that suits you and greatly helps to improve overall productivity and efficiency.

BricsCAD also allows you to customize the layout of the program. You can edit the user interface so you can find what you need quickly as well as create new menus. BricsCAD has a lot of customizable features and even though it might take a while to get the program the way you want, it is well worth it.

autocad

File compatibility

Both AutoCAD and BricsCAD are compatible with a wide range of files.

The standard file format for CAD software is DWG and you can open DWG files on both of these programs. While DWG files are native to AutoCAD – they licensed it away back in the 1980s – it can be used on a variety of different CAD programs.

BricsCAD also supports many third-party applications and you can use both of these programs for 3D printing as they support STL files.

Performance

Even though both of these programs are complex and can be used for highly technical purposes, how does programs perform? Are they particularly slow or is using them quite smooth and straightforward?

While much of this will depend on the computer you are using either AutoCAD or BricsCAD on, you don’t need anything two high powered to operate the software. Obviously, the better spec the easier these programs will run.

AutoCAD runs pretty smoothly and while there can be some delays at times depending on the specifications of your computer, there are different things you can do to speed the program up. Overall though, AutoCAD performs pretty well as long as you have a decent computer to run it on.

BricsCAD is similar. Opening complex drawings is pretty smooth with this program and the recommended specifications are actually quite a bit lower than AutoCAD. You can run BricsCAD on a lower spec computer that might otherwise struggle a bit with AutoCAD.bricscad

Platforms

It is important that the CAD software you choose is available for the operating system and device that you have. This is true especially if you move around offices and locations quite a bit and you may need the software to be available across different platforms.

Autocad is compatible with a wide range of operating systems and platforms. It has both Windows and Mac compatibility and you can also find AutoCAD for mobile devices too. This includes iOS, Android and Windows devices. You can also add on cloud storage to your AutoCAD subscription if you want which is great for accessing files anywhere you go.

BricsCAD also works with both Windows and Mac devices. However, BricsCAD does lack a bit with mobile support. There is the Bricsys 24/7 Mobile App which allows you to upload, view, markup and comment on any 3D models and 2D drawings that have been created. It doesn’t have the same overall functionality as the AutoCAD app.

Support

If you run into any problems with CAD software – especially if you are using this at home with a 3D printer – it is good to know that help is on hand should you need it.

AutoCAD provides a range of support options should you encounter any problems. This includes email and phone support while there is also a live chat feature on the Autodesk website. You can find answers to most questions within the help section of the site too and it provides a lot of information on common issues.

BricsCAD also has email and phone support while you can find out information in their help section. The knowledge base is easy to use and it is straightforward to find what you need. A good feature of BricsCAD is that they have a forum on their website where you can interact and speak to other users. This is really helpful to share experiences, find answers and get some tips on how to use this CAD software effectively.

Comparing AutoCAD and BricsCAD – Pricing

autocad

One of the big differences between these two CAD pieces of software is their pricing.

AutoCAD can be purchased on an annual basis and this gives you access to this CAD program for 12 months. You can get a monthly license too (which will cost more over the course of a year) and you can also take out a 3 year license if you wish.

There is a free trial available with AutoCAD and a one year free licence if you are a student.

With your AutoCAD subscription, you get a range of different tools included such as:

  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD Map 3D
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • AutoCAD MEP
  • AutoCAD Plant 3D
  • AutoCAD Raster Design

BricsCAD is cheaper than AutoCAD.

You can get a perpetual license for BricsCAD which is really good. This means you can use the software indefinitely and you don’t need to renew or pay a monthly or annual fee. You can take out an annual licence of this software if you wish.

There is a free trial available with BricsCAD and students can get a free one-year license as well. There is also a BricsCAD Lite option which is cheaper but doesn’t come with the same overall functionality as the Pro version.

You have the option of also taking out something called BricsCAD maintenance. It is an annual fee and can be bought alongside a perpetual license. It includes free upgrades to the latest software, priority support and access to Bricsys 24/7 for additional storage.

If you are on a tight budget and need the functionality that CAD software provides, BricsCAD is the more cost-effective option.

AutoCAD vs BricsCAD – ease of use

Creating 2D and 3D designs has become more user-friendly over the years. This is particularly true with the range of affordable 3D printers that are aimed at hobbyists but what about AutoCAD and BricsCAD – are they easy to use?

There can be quite a steep learning curve when it comes to AutoCAD. The program can look quite complex and difficult to understand and in some ways it is. There are a lot of separate processes and functionality that you need to learn. That being said, the customizable options that AutoCAD has does make the learning curve a bit easier. You won’t master AutoCAD in a day but it isn’t going to take you months and months to get the basics.

On the other hand, BricsCAD is easier to use than AutoCAD. The software is a bit more straightforward to navigate and we don’t think that there is such a big learning curve with BricsCAD. It can still be quite complex and you will need to take the time to master its functionality. However, when compared to AutoCAD, many people comment that the overall ease of use is better.

Pros and Cons

AutoCAD

Pros

  • Has both 2D and 3D modelling functionality
  • Offers a range of great customizable options
  • Can use without internet as it utilises local and network files
  • Works on both Windows and Mac devices as well as mobile
  • You can add in cloud storage if you need more space
  • Has been the go-to CAD software for decades

Cons

  • Steep learning curve and can seem overwhelming when starting out
  • Pretty expensive but does offer free license to students
  • Requires more computer power than BricsCAD

BricsCAD

Pros

  • Supports 2D drawings and can create 3D models
  • Has good licencing options with a perpetual license
  • Cheaper than AutoCAD and offers one year free licence to students
  • Can customize the layout to suit your needs which also helps productivity
  • Available on Windows, Mac and Linux devices
  • Offers various support options including email, phone, knowledge base and forums
  • Doesn’t have a steep learning curve and is quite easy to use

Cons

  • No dedicated mobile app for creating 2D drawings and 3D models
  • Some commands are different from AutoCAD so can take a while to get used to
  • Customer support can be slow to respond to queries

Are there any alternatives?

Solidworks

solidworks

The first alternative to both AutoCAD and BricsCAD is Solidworks. This program allows for 2D drawing and 3D modelling. You can get Solidworks as a one off payment (similar to BricsCAD as you get indefinite access) or you can use it on a subscription basis.

The one drawback with Solidworks is that it is only available on Windows and there is no dedicated Mac program. There are ways of using it on a Mac device however it isn’t as easy as simply installing a program.

If you are looking for an alternative, Solidworks is a popular choice for people who want and need to use CAD software. If you want to know how it compares directly with AutoCAD, you can read our previous AutoCAD vs Solidworks comparison.

TurboCAD

turbocad

TurboCAD is another well-known piece of CAD software that is favoured by many businesses and individuals.

It is available on both Windows and Mac devices and there is a range of apps available to support the work that you do on the software. It has always been primarily focused on 3D work so it is great for 3D models and it is fairly straightforward to use. Like all CAD software, you’ll need to spend a while getting used to it but you can customize the layout and some other options.

You can find out how TurboCAD stacks up against AutoCAD and how it’s a very good alternative that provides software for 3D modeling.

Frequently Asked Questions about AutoCAD vs BricsCAD

Question: Can I use AutoCAD for free?

Answer: You can get a 30-day free trial version of AutoCAD. There is also the opportunity for students to get a one-year free license too.

Question: Can I use BricsCAD for free?

Answer: There is a 30-day free trial available for BricsCAD while students can also get access to BricsCAD Ultimate for one year for free.

Question: What operating systems can I use AutoCAD on?

Answer: AutoCAD is available for both Windows and Mac computers and there is also a mobile app that you can use as well.

Question: What operating systems can I use BricsCAD on?

Answer: BricsCAD is available on both Windows and Mac devices.

Question: Can I customize these CAD programs?

Answer: Yes. Both AutoCAD and BricsCAD can be customized. This includes things such as creating menus, changing the layout, and creating aliases for commands. By customizing how you use these programs, you can boost your productivity and efficiency.

Question: Are AutoCAd and BricsCAD easy to use?

Answer: If you haven’t used any CAd software before, it will take a while to get used to how they work. BricsCAD is considered the easier of the two.

Question: Can I use AutoCAD and BricsCAD for 3D Printing?

Answer: Yes. Both AutoCAD and BricsCAD have the ability to use STL files. This will allow you to use these programs with a range of different 3D Printers.

Question: What support can I get with AutoCAD and BricsCAD?

Answer: AutoCAD offers phone, email, and live chat support while there is a knowledge base and forum on their website for further help. With BricsCAD you can get support via email and phone. They also have a help section on their website as well as a forum.

Conclusion – choose BricsCAD as the more affordable but still powerful software

Now that you know all the ins and outs of both AutoCAD and BricsCAD, we need to decide which one is better to use.

The initial instinct would be to go with AutoCAD because it is so well known and has been around for decades. However, we are going to recommend that you choose BricsCAD.

The price is one of the main reasons for this. It is cheaper and BricsCAD pretty much does everything AutoCAD does in terms of functionality. We really like the fact that you can get a perpetual licence with BricsCAD too. It just makes the whole process of licensing the software much easier and it is great that you can save some money as well.

Overall BricsCAD is a really good piece of CAD software. It is easier than some others to use and it also doesn’t take up much computing power so you don’t need anything too high spec to run it.

While there are some drawbacks like the availability of a mobile app to actually edit drawings and models and their customer support could be quicker at replying.

That being said, we think BricsCAD is the better of the two and if you are looking for affordable yet powerful CAD software, it is hard to go wrong with it.

Vectorworks vs AutoCAD: Which Software is Right For Your Needs?

Vectorworks vs AutoCAD

Our comprehensive Vectorworks vs AutoCAD comparison is going to show you the best CAD program to use out of these two pieces of software.

While AutoCAD is often the go-to program and has significant market domination, we’ll find out if Vectorworks is a credible alternative. We’ll explore all the features of these two programs and what they offer. We’ll also go into how easy they are to use, their pros and cons as well as other CAD softwares on the market.

In the end, you’ll find out which one is better.

Main Differences Between Vectorworks vs AutoCAD

The main differences between AutoCAD vs Vectorworks are:

  • Vectorworks allows you to buy a perpetual license, whereas AutoCAD does not let you buy a perpetual licence.
  • AutoCAD has a mobile app for editing designs, whereas Vectorworks does not have a mobile app for editing designs.
  • Vectorworks has BIM modeling capabilities, whereas AutoCAD does not have BIM modeling capabilities.
  • AutoCAD has a steep learning curve, whereas Vectorworks is a bit easier to learn
  • AutoCAD’s native file format is compatible with most CAD programs, whereas Vectorworks’ native file extension is not

Exploring Vectorworks and AutoCAD features

Both Vectorworks and AutoCAD are used by architects, engineers, and across various industries. While they often do serve different purposes, there are many features we can compare them against each other.

Drawing and design

autocad

Both of these programs provide the ability to create both 2D drawings and 3D models that are used in many industries including engineering, construction, and more.

AutoCAD has been the go-to software for the 2D drawing for many years. It has also incorporated 3D functionality into the software as well. Many people like the fact that AutoCAD feels like free form drawing on paper at times and it does offer a lot of flexibility for creating models.

Vectorworks also does a very good job at creating drawing and models, especially in 2D. It offers native BIM capabilities. There are many different programs with Vectorworks that serve different purposes. Vectorworks Architect is the one to compare with AutoCAD but there is also Vectorworks Spotlight for lighting, Vision for events, and Vectorworks Landmark for landscape architects.

Customizable Options

One of the big things we look out for with any software and especially CAD programs is how customizable they are. Being able to change layouts, hide tools and create a unique workspace helps with productivity and efficiency.

AutoCAD is well noted as offering a good experience if you want to customize certain parts of it. You can change the layout, show tools that you use the most, create aliases for commands as well as create a user interface that is unique to you. This massively helps AutoCAD feel like a custom program and it should boost how efficient it is to use.

Vectorworks also provides a range of customizable options for their program. Like AutoCAD, it is very easy to do and it allows you to add and remove tools and menus, configure context menus, create new positions for tools and palettes, and more.

Vectorwork Architect

File compatibility

You can open and use a varied range of files with both Vectorworks and AutoCAD. In fact, you can open up AutoCAD files (.dwg) in Vectorworks and we haven’t come across any problems with doing this.

One area where Vectorworks is perhaps better than AutoCAD is with BIM information as it has native BIM capabilities. Vectorworks has much more of a focus on a BIM workflow. Vectorworks also has its own file extension (.vmx) however this isn’t generally compatible with many other CAD programs.

Performance

CAD software can take up a lot of processing power due to the complex nature of how they work. So, how do Vectorworks and AutoCAD compare when it comes to performance?

Comparing them can be quite subjective because it is going to depend a lot on what computer spec you have. Obviously, a computer with a higher spec is going to run these programs better than one with limited capabilities.

AutoCAD has always run pretty well on any computer we have used it on (as long as it has half-decent specifications). AutoCAD does offer information on how you can speed up the program on your computer by changing around different settings.

Vectorworks is pretty similar to the recommended specifications for your computer to run this program on. There isn’t a big difference between the two really.

To run them smoothly you’ll need around the same RAM (16GB recommended), similar processors, and graphic cards. Depending on what toolsets you are using, you will need some decent storage space on your computer as well.

Platforms

Most CAD software is available across several operating systems and platforms. Choosing one that not only gives you the functionality you need but also can work across different devices is important. This is definitely true if you need to access it in different locations.

AutoCAD works on many different operating systems and this includes Windows and Mac. You can also use AutoCAD on a mobile device. This is one of the big advantages of AutoCAD in that you have a great range of functionality on iOS, Windows, and Android mobile devices. If you need additional storage, AutoCAD provides cloud storage options.

Vectorworks is similar to AutoCAD in that it can work on both Windows and Mac. One drawback of Vectorworks is that it doesn’t have an app where you can edit designs. There is Vectorworks Nomad which displays your designs and you can access this on Android and iOS devices but it doesn’t let you actually do any editing.

Support

The last feature we’re going to look at with Vectorworks and AutoCAD is their support options. Getting the help when you need it is vital in case you run into any problems.

AutoCAD does provide several support options. You can contact Autodesk by email as well as by phone or you can use the live chat on their website. If you want to do some research yourself, you can use the help section which offers a range of answers to common questions. There is also a dedicated AutoCAD forum where you can engage with other users.

Vectorworks has phone and email support in addition to a live chat option. Their website offers a list of Vectorworks partners that you can get in touch with for training.

You’ll also find a knowledge base on their website that has informative articles and how-to videos while the forum is another great resource that is pretty active.

Not much between AutoCAD and Vectorworks when it comes to supporting and getting the information that you need.

Comparing AutoCAD vs Vectorworks – pricing

vectorworks

You can purchase AutoCAD on an annual basis. This gives you a valid license for 12 months. There is the option to take up a monthly subscription to AutoCAD although your yearly amount will be higher. If you envisage using AutoCAD for a few years, you can get a 3 year licence too.

Students can get a one-year free license and Autodesk offer a 30 day free trial of AutoCAD too.

With your AutoCAD subscription, you get a range of different tools included such as:

  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD Map 3D
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • AutoCAD MEP
  • AutoCAD Plant 3D
  • AutoCAD Raster Design

Vectorworks – and Vectorworks Architect which is the closest program to AutoCAD – does cost more than AutoCAD if you look at the price of AutoCAD’s one-year subscription. However, the big difference here is that with Vectorworks Architect you get a perpetual license. This gives you lifetime access to Vectorworks Architect as well as 2G of cloud storage and one-year tech support.

You can add a maintenance addition to your purchase which boosts your cloud storage to 20GB and also gives you upgrades to the newly released version as well as priority support if you need it. Students can also get a free license to Vectorworks and you can request a 30-day free trial too.

So, Vectorworks Architect will work out cheaper in the longer run. You only need to purchase it once and over the course of say, 5 years, it will be less expensive than AutoCAD.

There are also many other programs that Vectorworks have including:

  • Vectorworks Fundamentals
  • Vectorworks Landmark
  • Vectorworks Spotlight
  • Vectorworks Designer

These all need to be purchased separately.

Vectorworks vs AutoCAD – ease of use

vectorworks architect

With the sharp rise in affordable 3D printers, many people have been turning to CAD software and other programs to create models and designs. This has led to some of these programs become more user-friendly. So, how do Vectorworks and AutoCAD compare?

AutoCAD is renowned for being pretty difficult to use. It is in no way impossible to master however it will take a while to get a good grasp on its functions and features.

It has long been the standard software to use for drawing and designs and this is why so many people preserve with it. There are good resources on the Autodesk website if you do run into trouble when using AutoCAD.

Vectorworks is a bit easier to use than AutoCAD. Many people prefer Vectorworks because it doesn’t present such a steep learning curve like AutoCAD often does. Commands are more intuitive with the icon UI layout which a lot of users prefer. Like AutoCAD, you can find a lot of good resources and training for Vectorworks to help you along.

Pros and Cons

AutoCAD

Pros

  • Can draw and designs in both 2D and 3D
  • Very customizable so you can create your own layout
  • Compatible with a large number of file formats
  • Available for Windows and Mac in addition to offering a mobile app
  • Can get cloud storage if you want
  • Can be used offline without internet access
  • Has been the go-to CAD software for decades

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer a perpetual license like some other CAD software
  • Is quite complex so will take a while to learn
  • Need decent computer specifications for run it smoothly

Vectorworks

Pros

  • Ideal for 2D and 3D modeling
  • Can get a perpetual license for lifetime access
  • Compatible with a wide range of different file formats
  • Works on both Windows and Mac computers
  • Can customize the layout to suit your needs
  • Easier to use than AutoCAD and has an intuitive icon UI
  • Decent support options with helpline online resources

Cons

  • Native Vectorworks format isn’t compatible with most software
  • No mobile app for editing (but does offering one for viewing and commenting)
  • Need decent computer specifications to run it smoothly

Are there any alternatives?

TurboCAD

Turbo Cad

An alternative to both Vectorworks and AutoCAD is TurboCAD.

We’ve had a look at this CAD software a few times and you can see how it matches up directly with AutoCAD here.

TurboCAD is a powerful piece of CAD software that is ideally suited to 3D modeling. It can take a while to get to grips with how it works but it is favored by many people. It works on both Windows and Mac computers and it also features a suite of apps to boost functionality on mobile devices.

Like AutoCAD and Vectorworks, it is highly customizable and can run on most half-decent computers pretty smoothly. Overall a decent alternative that comes in a lot cheaper for lifetime use than Vectorworks and AutoCAD.

TinkerCAD

If 3D printing is your main objective with CAD software then we would recommend going with TinkerCAD.

Regardless of what type of 3D printing you are going to do – whether it be working with an open source 3D printer, dual extruder 3D printers or to print specific objects, this is a great piece of software.

It is pretty basic so we can’t really compare it directly to AutoCAD or Vectorworks. It’s only focus is on offering three simple tools that can be used to create a wide variety of 3D printing models.

Perhaps the best thing about TinkerCAD is that it is free! You don’t have to pay anything to get access to it. This isn’t going to replace AutoCAD or Vectorworks however if you just need some basic software for 3D printing, this is a great option to get started with.

Frequently Asked Questions about AutoCAD and Vectorworks

Question: Is AutoCAD free for students?

Answer: You can get a one-year free license to AutoCAD if you are in education and there is also the option for a 30-day free trial as well.

Question: Is Vectorworks free for students?

Answer: You can get a 12 month Vectorworks license if you are a student and this can be extended after a year if you are still in education. If you are a recent graduate, you can get a discounted version of Vectorworks too.

Question: What operating systems is AutoCAD available on?

Answer: You can get AutoCAD on Windows and Mac computers while there is also a mobile app for iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

Question: What operating systems is Vectorworks available on?

Answer: Vectorworks is available on Windows and Mac OS. There is an app – Vectorworks Nomad – although it doesn’t allow you to edit designs.

Question: Can I customize these CAD programs?

Answer: Yes. You can customize both AutoCAD and Vectorworks. This will allow you to create custom layouts, hide tools, create menus and more so you can boost your productivity.

Question: Are AutoCAD and Vectorworks easy to use?

Answer: AutoCAD is seen to be harder to use than Vectorworks. Neither are really simple to use especially if this is your first step into CAD software. However, many users do report that Vectorworks is a bit easier to learn.

Question: Can I use AutoCAD and Vectorworks for 3D printing?

Answer: Yes. You can export STL files with both AutoCAD and Vectorworks and this is the default file format for the majority of 3D printers.

Question: Can I get training with AutoCAD and Vectorworks?

Answer: Yes. There are numerous online resources on both the Autodesk and Vectorworks website. This includes forums and guides while there are also official training courses you can use to boost your skills.

Conclusion – Go with Vectorworks mainly because of its lifetime license

Perhaps it seems obvious that you should choose AutoCAD if you need a piece of powerful CAD software. After all, it has been the default program for most professionals for a long time.

However, we are going to suggest that you choose Vectorworks.

When it comes to the actual functionality of both programs, there isn’t much difference and Vectorworks pretty much does what AutoCAD can do in a design, drawing, and modeling sense.

The big plus for us is that you can get a perpetual (lifetime) license with Vectorworks. So, if you want to get Vectorworks Architect, you simply purchase it once and you don’t need to pay again. This definitely beats AutoCAD’s subscription model.

While we would like to see a Vectorworks app – one that lets you edit drawings and designs at least – it isn’t a huge drawback for us. Vectorworks is not only a powerful tool but it is more intuitive and straightforward than AutoCAD. It offers good support options, is highly customizable and we can see why a lot of professionals are turning to it.

AutoCAD will still have a loyal following but Vectorworks definitely gives it a run for its money and the fact it works out cheaper in the long run, edges it for us.

Microstation vs AutoCAD [2021]: Which is Right For You?

Microstation vs AutoCAD

Our Microstation vs AutoCAD comparison is going to explore which software is better.

While AutoCAD is the most well-known software on the market and has been for a long time, how does Microstation compare? In fact, Microstation (operated by Bentley Systems) has been around since the 1980s, too so they have been around for roughly the same time period.

We’re going to look at the different features that both Microstation and AutoCAD offer, how they shape up in terms of pricing and ease of use, as well as their pros and cons.

We’ll also have a look at a few alternatives that you can consider as well.

First of all, let’s have a look at the main differences between Microstation and AutoCAD.

Main Differences Between Microstation vs AutoCAD

The main differences between AutoCAD vs Microstation are:

  • Microstation is better for 3D modeling, whereas AutoCAD is better for 2D drawings
  • Microstation doesn’t have a dedicated mobile app, whereas AutoCAD does
  • Microstation is more limited with its support, whereas AutoCAD has a good range of contact and support options
  • Microstation is more engineer orientated, whereas AutoCAD is more design orientated

Exploring Microstation and AutoCAD features

Both Microstation and AutoCAD have some similar features. While AutoCAD is generally used by architects, engineers, and those in the construction industry, Microstation is more often used by design teams for infrastructure.

Microstation vs AutoCAD

Drawing and design

You can use both Microstation and AutoCAD for 2D designs. However, AutoCAD does have more features than Microstation.

AutoCAD has been the main player for 2D designs for many years. It provides a wide number of tools and features to aid with drawing and design, including sketching tools, snap to grid functionality, and common logs. AutoCAD has also incorporated 3D in recent times as well.

While you can undertake 2D drawings with Microstation, it does last many of the features that AutoCAD provides. With Microstation, you do get sketch tools, command logs and the ability to create 2D designs from 3D models.

Where Microstation does get better than AutoCAD is with 3D models. While AutoCAD does provide that functionality, Microstation offers more in terms of 3D modelling and animation. This includes parametric modeling, 3D printing, photorealistic models, and more.

Customizable Options

Something that we really like to see with any type of CAD software (whether it be for 2D or 3D) is being able to customize the layout. It helps with efficiency, and being able to have your own custom setup with the software is important.

AutoCAD does allow you to have a high degree of flexibility when it comes to customization. You have the ability to change the layout of the program, show and hide different tools, create aliases for command and edit the user interface. It is well documented how good AutoCAD’s customizable options are.

You can also customize toolbars and tasks with Microstation. It allows you to have a decent level of control over how your program is laid out which makes it easier to carry out certain things. This software gives you a personalized experience if you want it.

File compatibility

There are a number of files that are compatible with both AutoCAD and Microstation.

This includes the widely used and default. DWG file.

Other file formats that both AutoCAD and Microstation can use are PDF, DWF, and 3DS.

Microstation and AutoCAD can also open files from other CAD programs such as Sketchup and Revit.

Performance

A lot of CAD software can put some stress on your computer as they often need to run on a device with good performance. This is down to the complex processes that these programs have.

So, how do both AutoCAD and Microstation perform?

AutoCAD requires 8GB of RAM (although it is recommended that you have 16GB), and it is also recommended that you have a 3+ GHz processor. You’ll need a reasonable graphics card as well. That being said, you don’t exactly need a supercomputer to run AutoCAD, just one with a decent spec to ensure the program runs smoothly.

Microstation requires a similar amount of processing power if you want to run it with some good 3D modeling. It is recommended that you have 16GB of RAM, a similar processor that is required for AutoCAD and a good graphics card with a graphics memory of 512 MB – 2GB.

The more that you want to do in each program will depend on how good the computer is that you are running it on. However, the above specifications should work fine for 2D drawing and 3D modelling with some visualization.

Platforms

Being able to run CAD software on different platforms can be important to how you work. This is especially true if you need several licenses but have different devices (Windows or a MAC for example) in different locations.

AutoCAD is flexible in this regard. It can run on both Windows computers and Mac computers and there is a version available for both. You can also run AutoCAD on an iOS, Windows, or Android mobile device as there is a dedicated app. You can also get cloud storage with AutoCAD if you need it.

Microstation is a bit more limited than AutoCAD as it only runs in Windows computers. This is a bit of a drawback because it really does limit what devices you can operate this CAD software on. While you could theoretically run it on a MAC with a virtual Windows installation, it isn’t that straightforward.

There also isn’t a dedicated Microstation app which is another drawback of this CAD software.

Support

The final thing to look at with both Microstation and AutoCAD before we get onto their pricing structure is what support options they offer.

There are several ways in which you can get in contact with Autodesk if you have any problems with AutoCAD. This includes email and phone support, while you can also contact them via the live chat on their website. There is also a dedicated FAQ/help section on their site or you can visit the forum and look through the threads of post something yourself.

Microstation is a bit more limited with their support options. While you can contact them via email, they don’t offer many other contact methods. However, they do have a knowledge base on their website, while there is a forum that you can use as well.

When it comes to product support and contact methods, Autodesk does offer more than Bentley.

Comparing AutoCAD and Microstation – pricing

3d modelling

One thing that stands out with AutoCAD is that it is generally a bit more expensive than most other CAD software.

AutoCAD has several different options for a subscription. You can get it with an annual license, a monthly subscription, or you can even take out a 3-year license if you wish.

If you are a student, you can get a one-year free license, while if you wish to ‘try before you buy, there is the option for a 30-day free trial.

With your AutoCAD subscription, you get a range of different tools included, such as:

  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD Map 3D
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • AutoCAD MEP
  • AutoCAD Plant 3D
  • AutoCAD Raster Design

Microstation is more expensive than AutoCAD to purchase. You can take out Microstation on a one-year subscription. This gives you the benefit of getting ‘3 keys’ so you can use Microstation on 3 different computers. However, only one user can run Microstation at one time.

There are some different options with Microstation alongside the one-year subscription. You do need to contact Bentley System if you want to find out more about their different pricing options. There is also a free trial available with Microstation.

It is a bit surprising that Microstation costs more than AutoCAD. Most CAD software that is compared alongside AutoCAD tends to come out cheaper.

Microstation vs AutoCAD – ease of use

CAD software can be complex, and you won’t be able to download it and simply start creating top-quality designs right away. There is usually a bit of a learning curve, with some being harder to learn than others. For example, TurboCAD is seen as one of the easier software packages to get to grips with. So, how do AutoCAD and Microstation compare with their ease of use?

AutoCAD will take a while to get used to. If you are completely new to AutoCAD, it will take some time to get to grips with all the functions, commands, and how the software works in general. There are many resources on the Autodesk website, which will help you get started and answer any problems you have.

That being said, AutoCAD can be quite intuitive and once you master the basics, it doesn’t take too long to get into the advanced functionality of the program.

Microstation is similar. Microstation is quite hard to use compared to other CAD software and has a similar learning curve to AutoCAD. It could do with being a bit more user-friendly and it will take a while to get to grips with it.

Microstation is a very powerful piece of software but you need to be prepared to put effort into learning commands and how it works to get the most out of it.

Microstation – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Great for 3D modeling and animation
  • It can be customized with a personal layout and commands
  • Compatible with a wide range of files, including .dwg
  • It can be used for 3D printing
  • Suited to designs teams for infrastructure

Cons

  • Limited to use on just Windows computers
  • It is quite expensive and costs more than AutoCAD
  • Lacks many 2D drawing features
  • It doesn’t provide many support options

AutoCAD – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Highly customizable so you can make the layout your own
  • It is available on various devices such as Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
  • Default CAD software for professionals
  • Ideal for both 2D drawings and can make 3D models
  • Variety of support and help options
  • Cloud storage available if you need it

Cons

  • Isn’t the cheapest compared to some other CAD software
  • It Will take a while to learn how to use

Are there any alternatives?

TurboCAD

TurboCAD

TurboCAD is a pretty good alternative to AutoCAD and Microstation. It is a program we have reviewed previously when we compared it to AutoCAD.

The good thing about TurboCAD is that it doesn’t require such a big learning curve as AutoCAD and Microstation. You will still need to put in a bit of work to learn this software but it is generally easier to use.

TurboCAD is also cheaper than both AutoCAD and Microstation and once you buy the software, you get lifetime access to it. There is also a free trial available.

You can install TurboCAD in both Windows and Mac computers and it is also very customizable so you can personalize the layout as you wish.

Solidworks

Solidworks

A really good feature of Solidworks is its intuitive design and layout and this helps with learning how to use this software properly.

Solidworks is ideal to use alongside a 3D printer as it has extensive 3D capabilities including the use of STL files. Even though Solidworks is mainly designed for Windows computers. Like Microstation, this does limit it a bit as it doesn’t have a ton of compatibility with different platforms.

Solidworks itself is a powerful piece of software. It does have some 2D capability however its main focus is on 3D models. Even though it can look and feel a bit outdated, it is a very good CAD program especially if you are using it for 3D printing.

Frequently Asked Questions about AutoCAD and Microstation

Question: What operating systems is AutoCAD available on?

Answer: You can get AutoCAD on Windows and Mac computers while there is also a mobile app for iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

Question: What operating systems is Microstation available on?

Answer: Microstation is limited to Windows computers. There isn’t a mobile app for Microstation either or a native Mac version.

Question: Can I get AutoCAD free as a student?

Answer: Yes. you can get a one-year free license to AutoCAD if you are a student and there is also the option of getting a 30-day free trial as well.

Question: Can I get Microstation free as a student?

Answer: If your place of education has an Academic SELECT subscription with Bentley, you can get access to Microstation in addition to a wide range of other products. There is more information on the Bentley website.

Question: Can I customize these CAD programs?

Answer: Yes. Both AutoCAD and Microstation can be customized to suit your needs. This includes changing the layout, showing/hiding certain features, and creating custom commands.

Question: Are AutoCAD and Microstation easy to use?

Answer: Not really. While you will learn how to use these products over time, both AutoCAD and Microstation do require a decent level of training (either self-taught or through classes) in order to master the functionality.

Question: Can I use AutoCAD and Microstation for 3D Printing?

Answer: Yes. AutoCAD and Microstation can be used with 3D Printers. They can both export STL files which is the default file for the majority of 3D printers on the market.

Question: Can I get a lifetime license with AutoCAD?

Answer: No. AutoCAD doesn’t offer a lifetime or perpetual license. Instead, you can take AutoCAD out on a monthly, annual, or 3-year subscription.

Question: Can I get a lifetim license with Microstation.

Answer: No. There is no lifetime license option with Microstation. You can get Microstation on an annual license or you can contact them for other pricing options.

Conclusion – Choose AutoCAD as the all-round better CAD software

Now that we have explored the different features of these two pieces of CAD software as well as looked at some alternatives – which one should you choose?

We think that you should go with AutoCAD.

It isn’t just because AutoCAD is the go-to piece of software when it comes to CAD. We just think that it is a better all-round program especially if you are working a lot with 2D.

Microstation does have some drawbacks in 2D features. While it perhaps has the edge when it comes to 3D modeling, we prefer AutoCAD overall.

Not only is AutoCAD a bit cheaper but it has other features we prefer. This includes the fact that you can use it on Windows and Mac devices (Microstation is limited to Windows only) while the addition of a highly functional mobile app is great too.

AutoCAD has more support options and better information on their website than Microstation as well. Both of these programs can be customized and AutoCAD is great if you want to create a custom layout, alias commands and much more to boost your efficiency.

Overall there are many reasons why AutoCAD is the default product for many professionals.

There is an argument to go with AutoCAD for 2D and Microstation for 3D but if we have to choose between the two programs overall, we would opt for AutoCAD.

6 Best Sketchup Alternatives in 2021 You’ll Love

The thing with 3D modeling programs is that there’s one or two that’s perfect for you. You can have a lot of options when you’re looking for the best one.

A lot of people will suggest Sketchup, but what if you’re not entirely sold on this program just yet?

The good news is that you have fairly competitive alternatives in:

  • Art of Illusion
  • Fusion 360
  • Autodesk Inventor
  • Rhino 3D
  • Tinkercad
  • Blender

What should you know about all of these Sketchup competitors? And should you stick with Sketchup, or are they better?

What Is Sketchup?

sketchup

Sketchup is one of the most intuitive computer-aided design software that can help you create two- and three-dimensional sketches with ease. This software was once known as Google Sketchup.

It comes with a variety of features and tools that you can use to create your models. Plus there are no steep learning curves when using Sketchup. Using the program is very much like using a pen and paper to draw your designs. What features should you know?

  • Push and Pull, helps you convert flat surfaces into 3D objects just by clicking and then pulling on it to make it look how you want it to appear
  • Access to a vast database of pre-made models that you can down and use, eliminating the need to create from scratch
  • If there are functionalities that you are missing, then you can use a third-party plugin that can serve the purpose
  • You also have customizable palettes that allow you to rearrange, remove, or add palettes to make it easier for you to find things
  • Sketchup also uses icons rather than feature lists that most other CAD software have
  • A free version is available, while the paid versions can cost you $119 annually for personal projects and $299 for the Pro version
  • Overall, Sketchup is known for how easy it is to use, from having a very intuitive user interface to user-friendly features and tools. It’s also known for its rendering capabilities that are native to the program, the plugins that make it more useful and powerful, and the free option.

So if you’re not sold with Sketchup, what are the alternatives that you should be looking at?

1. Art of Illusion

art of illusion

Art of Illusion is a 3D rendering and modeling program that has capabilities that are on par with other software. The biggest difference is that Art of Illusion is free to use.

The open-source program is very powerful and can be used even by serious illustrators, designers, and other professionals for their work. Beginners, on the other hand, will like the surface-based modeling features. These tools are very easy to use and understand.

As you advance in your skills, you will like the advanced tools, such as those for creating textures and animation. This program can also give you easy 3D renderings as well as an extensive range of lighting options. You can do primitive modeling and 3D sculpting to create your objects.

What’s more, the user interface is fully customizable. This feature is a big plus for beginners, as well as the help files they offer. the tools have contextual help as well as detailed explanations of what each tool does.

If you’re ready to dip your hands into 3D modeling, you can start with the software’s tutorial on how to create an hourglass. Plus it works on just about any operating system, including macOS, Windows, Linux, Unix, and others. The source code is also available.

Art of Illusion also has its Plug-in Manager feature that allows you to download and use plug-ins and scripts that allows you to extend the program’s functionality.

Art of Illusion: Bottom Line

Overall, Art of Illusion can help you come up with some high-end animations and 3D models. You can customize the user interface, expand its features and functionality, and not only is it easy to use, but it also offers a lot of help. And you get to enjoy all that for free.

2. Fusion 360

fusion 360

If you’re looking for an alternative to Sketchup because you need something more powerful, then look at Fusion 360. This software has more capabilities such as animation, simulation, and 3D rendering features that are not found in Sketchup.

You can even use Fusion 360 for computer-aided manufacturing. It comes from Autodesk and uses parametric modeling techniques.

You can also use Fusion 360 for slicing your 3D models for printing. The software is free for hobbyists, students, and educators. Startups can also use this program for free, provided that they don’t earn more than $100,000 a year. If you don’t fall into these categories of users, you will need to pay $60 per month to use Fusion 360.

Fusion 360: The Skinny

You will love how Fusion 360 allows you to design 3D objects and slice them without using another program. This software is an excellent choice for those that need precise 3D models and even the free version is fully-featured.

However, Fusion 360 is only available on Mac and Windows machines. Plus the interface is not that user friendly. What’s more, Fusion 360 might be powerful for those who like to do technical or mechanical designs, but it’s not the best when it comes to 3D rendering.

Fusion 360 can also get very slow if you have a bad Internet connection. It can also drain your device’s memory.

3. Autodesk Inventor

autodesk

Autodesk Inventor is very much like Fusion 360, but this program is made for professionals and those people who may have complex projects that they need to handle efficiently. Inventor is largely for industry users.

Needless to say, this program suffers from a steep learning curve, often requiring users to have some knowledge in engineering. But if you’re looking for a powerful CAD program that can adequately handle both 2D and 3D designs, then this is probably your best choice.

With Autodesk Inventor, you can do computer-aided design and engineering. You can also perform manufacturing and simulation, as well as other tasks. Inventor is best known for its tools that allow you to design parts and assembly.

With the current version of Inventor, you now have a cleaner and mobile-friendly user interface, a good number of modeling tools that you can see on Fusion 360, and more.

What You Should Know About Autodesk Inventor

With Inventor, you can do a whole lot more than just 3D modeling. You will be able to come up with computer-aided manufacturing and engineering. But it comes at a cost: a single license will cost you $260 per month, less if you opt for a longer contract.

On that note, you might be better off getting Autodesk’s Product Design & Manufacturing Collection where you pay $2,720 a year and you get access to Inventor, AutoCAD, Fusion 360, and Navisworks Manage.

Back to Inventor, you should know that it is not for everyone. For one, it is not easy to learn, which delegates Autodesk Inventory to professional users rather than for the 3D printing enthusiast.

Read our full Autocad vs Sketchup comparison here.

4. Rhino 3D

rhinoceros

Perhaps, Rhino 3D’s strongest point is the ability to allow you to easily visualize a 2D drawing in 3D. It has some free-from 3D tools that you can find in more expensive software.

You can use this software to create prototypes or tinker with the designs of whatever it is you want to create. It will help you engineer, manufacture, or analyze everything.

It also allows you to work with files from other software, and can even repair meshes and IGES files. And the thing is that it has all of these advanced features yet remains very intuitive, easy to learn, and accessible.

Further, the Rhino is pretty lightweight. It doesn’t hog too much of your resources, nor would you need stellar computer specifications to use it. And yes, it’s easily extensible with plugins that can help you do your tasks with more ease.

Rhino 3D: The Bottom Line

If you’re into turning a sketch into a 3D model, then Rhino will be for you. You can have an easy to use and intuitive 3D modeling program and still get quality renderings that even professionals can use. It’s great for creating complex and complicated geometry.

However, it might not be as precise as other CAD software. You will also be hardpressed to get support from the company itself. The good news is that there are user communities online that can help you if you do get into a bind while using Rhino.

5. Tinkercad

tinkercad

For beginners who are looking for easy to use CAD software, Tinkercad will be a good choice. It uses primitive modeling that makes it easier to piece together your 3D model even if you’re not a technical person.

Tinkercad’s biggest draw is the tutorials that can help novices come up with their 3D models with ease. The interface itself is all drag and drop. Once you’re done, you can upload your work to the Gallery of Things, where you can find other user-generated models that you can also use for your own projects.

You can create 3D models for printing using Tinkercad and it’s easy to learn that you will probably not have any problems figuring it out even if you’re using it for the first time.

What You Can and Cannot Get from Tinkercad

Tinkercad is an excellent introduction to 3D modeling. You can use geometric shapes and reshape them to create your 3D models and you have access to a library of drawings that other people made. It’s free and you don’t even have to install it on your computer. You only need a browser to use Tinkercad.

However, Tinkercad does have some limitations. It’s not as powerful as other programs on this list and there are only a few rendering features. There are no lighting options, either. And when your Internet suddenly goes off, you will not be able to use Tinkercad.

6. Blender

blender 3d

Blender is one of those 3D design software that proves that you don’t have to compromise on features just because it’s free. You can create professional-quality 3D models and animation and you have a well-thought-out user interface to work in.

Blender is feature-rich with tools for 3D unwrapping, physics, real-time creation, and shading. You can render edges with ease, simulate collisions, or use procedural brushes for both 2D and 3D designs.

This software is also compatible with a wide variety of file formats, allowing you to work with other software and with a wide range of filetypes. Plus with all those features, you have a large work area and drop-down windows to keep everything easily accessible.

Blender is not easy to learn, which is probably what most beginners complain about. But there are a lot of help options that you can take advantage of and these materials are comprehensive and extensive.

The Bottom Line on Blender

If you only have to work on 3D models or animation, then Blender should be a good choice for you. It has an extensive array of tools that you get to use for free.

However, if you’re in a hurry to create your 3D masterpieces and you’re new to Blender, then you might be turned off by how difficult it is. But don’t worry, help is always available.

Other Software You Can Consider Alongside Sketchup

While these six programs are the ones that you should consider first, here are four more that you can check out if our top recommendations are not what you’re looking for.

1. Shapr3D is an excellent tool if you are an Apple user and would like to create 3D drawings on the go. You will need the Apple Pencil to create your 3D renders. This app is only free for two of your designs or with an educational license. You will need to pay $240 for using the Pro version.

2. Maya is one of the software that you may want to check out if you can splurge on a 3D modeling software. This software has everything you need for your 3D models, including texturing, rendering, and lighting tools. You can easily add cloth textures, hair, particles, and even character animation and fluid simulations. But it costs $1,620 per year and you may not even need some of its features.

3. Lightwave 3D is an excellent 3D modeling software that used to be the darling of science fiction shows on TV. If it’s good enough for TV production, then you should check out the features it offers, especially the physically-based rendering engine that’s quite speedy and fully interactive. You will need to pay $995 for Lightwave 3D, but you might want to consider other alternatives because most of the features they offer are quite outdated.

4. ZBrush is the go-to software if you want to do some sculpting for your 3D models. There are so many features that it’s easy to become overwhelmed, and it shows in their user interface. Nevertheless, they do have the ZBrush Classroom where you can find video tutorials.

You will positively love Dynamesh, which allows you to stretch the mesh when you’re sculpting, as well as PaintStop for those who like 2D drawings. ZBrush charges $40 per month for a subscription or $895 for a perpetual license.

FAQs

Question: What is primitive modeling?

Answer: Primitive modeling is a modeling technique that uses a base object such as a sphere or cube. you use geometric forms as your starting point and you modify these by making them bigger or smoother.

This video will explain what primitives are and how you can use these geometric shapes to create your 3D model:

Contrast this with digital 3D sculpting, which allows you to use brushes to work on details, shapes, and edges.

It’s similar to shaping a piece of clay, as this video explains:

Further, you also have parametric modeling where you can change your 3D models easily just by inputting the dimensions.

You only need to enter one dimension and the CAD software will make adjustments to the entire object.

Question: What should you look for in a 3D modeling software anyway?

Answer: There are several 3D modeling programs that you can choose from and sometimes too many options may not be a good thing. If you’re confused, here’s how you should narrow down your choices:
a. What do you need the program for? Sometimes, 3D modeling software is packaged as different things, and it comes with functionalities and features that you might not even need. If you’re looking to use the software to come up with 3D models for printing, and that’s all you plan to do, then you can save more by not getting a more expensive software because of features you will not use. Then check if your chosen software has all the tools that you need.
b. Choose software that’s compatible with your operating system. This might sound basic, but it’s worth repeating. You may find a 3D modeling software that’s free and full-featured, but if you’re using a Mac and it’s only for PC machines, then you should be looking at something else.
c. Consider industry-based software. There are 3D modeling programs that are geared towards a certain industry. For example, RhinoGold is made for jewelry designers, while ArchiCAD is best suited for architects and interior designers.
d. Stay within budget. There are free, yet very powerful, 3D modeling software out there. You should have a budget and try to see if you can afford your preferred software. Some programs are accessible via a one-time purchase price, while others are available by subscription.
e. Look at the user community. You will want to know how helpful the user community is, or how much education and training material is available for your chosen software. Having excellent support and an active online community will help you if you’re stuck on something while using the software, or if you’re a beginner and still learning.

Question: What are the things that you should remember when you’re creating a 3D model for printing?

Answer: The best 3D software like Sketchup and any one of its alternatives are not guaranteed that you will have a successful print if you don’t consider the following:
a. Material physics. When you’re creating a 3D model, you don’t have to worry about such things as physics. The 3D model will float and you can rotate or flip it without problems. It doesn’t work that way with real-life objects. So be sure to consider this when you’re still working on your 3D model.
b. Weight distribution. Ensuring that your 3D prints will not be unstable and keep falling over is also one of the things that you need to remember when you’re designing your 3D prints.
c. What printer do you have? You should create 3D models that are too big for your 3D printer. Also, you might want to ease off on the elaborate details if your 3D printer cannot handle accuracy and precision to flesh out the intricate designs you have created.

The Best Alternatives to Sketchup

While Sketchup might be one of the best 3D modeling software right now, it’s not for everybody. If you’re looking for a suitable alternative, then the programs we mentioned here are your best bets. To make it easier, you can think of it this way:

For those who are just beginning their journey in making 3D drawings, Art of Illusion is the ideal choice: it’s free and it serves the purpose. If you want something quick and easy, there’s Tinkercad. This program is perfect for those simple 3D models, or perhaps to introduce kids to 3D modeling.

Further, if you’re working on a technical design, you will love the parametric modeling used by Fusion 360, but it may not be the best 3D rendering program out there. Then for turning 2D sketches and ideas into 3D models, you have Rhino 3D. And if you like a powerful suite of tools, there’s always Blender.

Mosaic Palette 2 Review [2021]: Does it Really Work?

In our Mosaic Palette 2 Pro review, we’ll look in-depth at how this piece of hardware performs in helping to improve what your 3D printer can do.

Manufactured by Mosaic Manufacturing which is a Canadian company based in Toronto, the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro will give your 3D printer multicolor functionality. It is designed to work alongside your existing 3D printer to improve its performance and output. If you don’t have a multi-material and multi-color 3D printer, this accessory device can be a game-changer.

We will show you the core features that this kit offers, how it performs when used in conjunction with your 3D printer, and also what the pros and cons are.

First, let’s take a dive into the specifications of the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro.

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Key specifications of Mosaic Palette 2 Pro

Find the main specifications for the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro below.

Overall Dimensions 9 x 8 x 3.3 inches
Supported Filament 1.75 mm FDM filament (PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU)
Compatible operating systems Windows, Mac and Linux
3D Printer compatibility  Full list available here.
Interface 3.2″ color touchscreen (240 x 320 pixels)
WiFi connectivity? Yes with the Canvas Hub
Warranty 2-year or 50,000 splices
Latest price Click here find the latest price

Core features of Mosaic Palette 2 Pro

The Mosaic Palette 2 Pro works to extend the overall functionality of your 3D printer. It comes with a number of great features that can boost your productivity and also increase the outputs that your 3D printer provides.

Design

The Mosaic Palette 2 Pro is a fairly compact device even if it is a little on the heavy side (it weighs around 7.9lbs).

That being said, it will fit in well in small spaces as overall its dimensions come in at 9 x 8 x 3.3 inches. So, it is ideal for a cramped workspace either in a professional environment or for home use.

One of the great design features of the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro is the 3.5-inch color touchscreen interface. This greatly increases the ease of use and makes everything simple to control. Everything is fairly straightforward as the controls are right at your fingertips.

Mosaic Palette 2 Review

Compatibility

Compatibility is one of the core features of this device because as it is designed to work alongside your existing 3D printer, it needs to work in harmony with it.

The good news is that the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro is compatible with pretty much all 1.75mm filament 3D printers. So unless you have an industrial-scale 3D printer, the Palette 2 Pro will likely be compatible with your existing printer. It also works on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems too.

Runout detection

One valuable feature of the Palette 2 Pro is the filament runout detection. This is built into the device and it will automatically switch materials during the printing process when one is running low.

This means you don’t need to keep a constant eye on the process. It has four onboard sensors that help to detect when the filament is running low.

Speed

In terms of speed, the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro is quicker than the non-Pro model. It achieves this by using a Splice Core Pro unit which has been manufactured from aluminum.

This has the effect of a 20% increase in quicker filament splicing which has the knock-on effect of being able to print faster. The filament production is between 166-280 mm per minute (the non-Pro version of this device has a filament production between 120-214 mm per minute).

While 20% may not seem like a huge deal at first glance, on large print jobs and processes that are being carried out over a long period of time, it can make a pretty big difference to timescales.

Touchscreen

One great feature that we mentioned above is the 3.5-inch color touchscreen interface.

This really boosts its simplicity and contributes to the overall ease of use. While the screen itself isn’t going to blow your mind (it is 240 x 320 pixels) and is going to be significantly less quality than your average smartphone, it is still a neat feature.

It is straightforward to select certain print modes, to add textures or style – the touchscreen on the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro is a fantastic addition.

Mosaic Palette 2 Features

Software

Finally, we have the software.

Something that we have found previously when it comes to multi-material printing is getting the files prepared properly to send to the 3D printer. Using various software has often been a bit challenging to get everything right.

The good news is that the Palette 2 Pro uses Mosaic’s own software which is called Canvas. This slicer software makes it easy to convert single color files into multicolor files or to prepare models that use multi-materials and get them ready for print.

There are also other features within the software that can save you time namely things such as infill transition and layer batching.

Overall the software is a welcome addition. It is easy to use and also has great options to make your life a lot easier when preparing prints.

How does the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro perform?

The Mosaic Palette 2 Pro has a host of different interesting and useful features to help you get the most out of your 3D printer when it comes to multi-material printing.

How does it actually perform though when put to the test?

When we used the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro we found that the results were very good indeed. Not only is it easy to operate and get started with, it helps immensely in being able to extend the functionality of your 3D printer. In fact, it opens up a realm of different possibilities going forward.

In terms of compatibility, it worked seamlessly with the 3D printers that we tried it out on.

The Mosaic Palette 2 Pro does do things very quickly as well which is also a bonus. It really does have a ‘plug and play’ type setup to it which is very beneficial if you are either new to 3D printing or simply don’t have the time to fiddle about with the settings.

If you add on a Canvas Hub with this piece of kit, you can communicate everything via WiFi as well. You will be able to stop/start prints and monitor their progress too. In terms of performance, this is a great addition to have although you can also upload files via USB and SD too.

All the 3D printers that were tested came out very well indeed and it is no surprise that the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro consistently achieves high results.

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Pros of Mosaic Palette 2 Pro

There are a lot of good things about the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro. Here all the best parts of this functional and impressive device.

  • Compact design – If you don’t have a ton of space left alongside your 3D printer either at home or in a professional environment then you won’t need to find much for the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro. It is compact overall and doesn’t take up much space which is ideal for home users and small businesses alike.
  • Compatible with most 3D printers – This is one of the big selling points. The Mosaic Palette 2 Pro is compatible with most 3D printers which use 1.75 mm filament which basically means the majority of FDM 3D printers especially those in the affordability category.
  • Runout Detection – The device comes with automatic runout detection. It features four sensors that help to detect when the filament is running out. The device will automatically switch materials during the printing process so you don’t have to be on a constant watch over your prints.
  • Touchscreen – The touchscreen isn’t of the highest quality however the main thing is that it is there. It makes operating the Palette 2 Pro a whole lot easier and is a great addition to an already powerful and functional tool.
  • Easy to use software – The software is another big bonus of using the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro. It is very easy to use and makes the process of converting single color prints into multi-color straightforward. You’ll also find a variety of other features and settings that will cut down on the time spent preparing models for print too.

Mosaic Palette 2 pros cons

Cons of Mosaic Palette 2 Pro

While the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro is a great device overall, there are a couple of downsides we should bring up to give you the full picture.

  • Limited to 1.75mm filament – For most people, the fact that the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro is compatible with 1.75mm filament is great however it does mean that some with certain 3D printers won’t be able to use it. Its limitation in this regard is a drawback but not an overly huge one for most 3D printer users.
  • You’ll use more filament – Again this isn’t a massive drawback because using a tool like this means it’s fairly obvious you’ll need more filament. This is because the whole point is to be able to use multi-color designs however it is something to keep in mind. You will need more filament when using the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro.

Are there any alternatives?

Prusa Multi Material Upgrade 2S (MMU2S)

The big problem with the Prusa Multi Material Upgrade 2S (MMU2S) is that it is only compatible with certain 3D Prusa printers. This includes the Prusa’s i3 MK2.5, MK2.5S, MK3, and MK3S 3D printers.

However, if you do have one of these devices then the Prusa Multi Material Upgrade 2S (MMU2S) is a sound alternative. It actually comes in a good bit cheaper than the Palette 2 Pro.

The accessory has a number of great features including a filament loading system, filament buffer, and a filament sensor to cut down on any blockages or print problems. Again, it is only available for Prusa 3D printers but if you do own one and want to upgrade it for multi-material and multi-color functionality, this is exactly what you need.

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04/09/2021 01:10 am GMT

Da Vinci Color Mini

Da Vinci Color Mini

Actually separate devices such as the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro and the offering from Prusa are quite scarce – that’s why one of our alternatives is an actual multi-color 3D printer! If you don’t have a 3D printer yet and intend on printing in different colors, it would be better to actually invest in the Da Vinci Color Mini.

It has been specifically designed to print off models in a variety of different colors without needing any extras to do so. It combines filament with inkjet technology in order to do this.

The printer itself is easy to use and get started with so you shouldn’t have any problems if you are new to 3D printing. It has a removable print bed, a fully automatic calibration system as well as supporting third-party materials.

For anyone that doesn’t have a 3D printer yet and needs multi-color functionality, it is hard to go wrong with the Da Vinci Color Mini.

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04/08/2021 09:10 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Does my 3D printer not have multi-color functionality?

Answer: The chances are that it doesn’t. If you do have a multi-color 3D printer then you don’t need any additional hardware. However, most 3D printers for home use and for small businesses don’t support this out of the box hence why tools like the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro are needed.

Question: Will the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro work with my 3D printer?

Answer: If your 3D printer uses 1.75mm filament then the chances are that the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro will be compatible with it. It can be used in conjunction with most desktop 3D printers that are on the market at the minute. You can find a list of compatible 3D printers here.

Question: Is the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro fast?

Answer: It is pretty fast. Compared to the previous model, it offers quicker speeds, and the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro offers a 20% increase in filament splicing with a filament production between 166-280 mm per minute.

Question: Does the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro work with Octoprint?

Answer: Yes. Octoprint is a common upgrade people use on their 3D printer and the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro is compatible with it. You may need to use the Canvas plugin from Mosaic to get it to work properly.

Question: Does the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro have WiFi?

Answer: Yes. This device has WiFi, USB, and SD card functionality. The WiFi connection works by going through the Canvas Hub which allows the Palette 2 Pro to connect to your 3D printer. You need to purchase the Canvas Hub separately.

Question: Will the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro work with 3D printers that don’t use 1.75mm filament?

Answer: No. The Mosaic Palette 2 Pro is specifically built for use with 3D printers that use 1.75mm filament.

Final thoughts – the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro is a powerful piece of kit that extends the functionality of your 3D printer

What do we think about the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro overall?

Really it can be summed up by saying that it is a great piece of hardware that greatly helps you to boost what your 3D printer can do.

If you don’t have a 3D printer with multi-color technology, this is what you need to make it happen. It has a range of great features beyond simply helping to boost the functionality of your existing 3D printer.

This includes the filament runout sensors which are very helpful. The software is very easy to use as well and has a ton of options and settings to speed up the whole process. Speaking of speed, the Mosaic Palette Pro 2 is pretty fast as well and it is a jump up from the previous model.

We also really like the touchscreen interface. While it is hardly the best ever touchscreen you will come across in terms of resolution, it does what it needs to do. You’ll find it much easier to operate with this feature.

It is compatible with a wide range of desktop 3D printers. Unless you have something pretty obscure, the chances are that this accessory is going to work with your 3D printer.

Overall, the Mosaic Palette 2 Pro vastly increases what your 3D printer is able to do and makes multi-color models very easy to create with a user friendly and straightforward process.

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MatterControl vs Cura [2021]: Which is The Best Your Needs

MatterControl vs Cura

MatterControl vs Cura: Which one is better and does it really matter which slicing software you use? Before you can start 3D printing, you’ll need your design to be modeled and adapted for being printed as a 3D object.

Slicing software, or Slicers, translate 3D models into layers that a 3D printer can understand and print. Not all slicing programs provide equal utility or results, however. Given their impact on the quality of your model, it’s important to find a software that works for you.

Cura, for example, is one of the most popular slicing software, which comes prepackaged with many printers. However, MatterControl has risen to popularity in recent years as well. Both are cutting edge slicers, therefore deciding between the two can be a little tricky.

Our comparison guide is here to clear up the confusion between the two. We’ll dive into the similarities, differences, pros, and cons of each software. Thereby, you can test each option out having a good basic understanding of what they offer. Let’s get started.

Main Differences Between MatterControl vs Cura

The main differences between MatterControl vs Cura are:

  • MatterControl needs 100 gigabytes of hard disk space and 6 gigabytes of RAM, whereas Cura needs 600 megabytes of hard disk space and 8 gigabytes of RAM.
  • MatterControl is more expensive as it wastes more material, whereas Cura comes cheaper as it operates with less material.
  • MaterControl utilizes a tab-based UI system, whereas Cura has a single-view with only a few settings accessible through its settings menu.
  • MatterControl has integrated slicing and modeling option, whereas Cura does not have any customization features, therefore models have to be edited in separate CAD software.
  • MatterControl has comparatively less frequent updates, whereas Cura has weekly updates and bug fixes.
  • MatterControl offers Gcode input and output, whereas Cura only allows for Gcode input

Read on and find out which of these two would suit your needs better. How does MatterControl compete against Ultimaker Cura? What are the features that each one offers? And which one is the better slicer?

What Is MatterControl?

MatterControl vs Cura

MatterControl is a program that you can use to carry out a lot of processes and tasks when you are 3D printing. Most people might think that 3D printing is like regular paper printing where you can start the process with a button click, and then leave it for a few seconds and everything’s okay.

But as anybody who’s ever tried or seen 3D printers in action knows, it’s not that simple. 3D printing has a lot of tasks and processes that you need to do, and MatterControl can help you with that.

What’s more, MatterControl allows you to use one user interface to operate different 3D printers. If this software allows you to do various 3D printing tasks, you expect it to have a long list of features.

MatterControl Features

MatterControl has several features that allow you to do several things when you’re working with 3D models.

It has both a 2D viewer and a 3D viewer. The 2D viewer allows you to see the layers when you slice your design, while the 3D viewer allows you to scale, mirror, or rotate your design to make sure everything is in order before you print or slice it.

Main Features:

  • The library allows you to store, manage, organize, and search for your designs.
  • Print Queue that helps you organize and handle large projects.
  • Printer dropdown list to help you easily work with a variety of 3D printers that you have connected with MatterControl
  • Quick printer wizard to set up different 3D printers
  • Switch for different slicing engines, allowing you to use Slic3r, MatterSlice, Cura, and others.
  • Terminal for both viewing and editing G-code

Printer Controls

MatterControl gives you the ability to interface with your 3D printer easily. When you start printing, MatterControl will call up a new section: Tuning Adjustment.

This interface will allow you to adjust the speed and temperature of the printer. It also allows you to tinker with the extrusion settings. You can do all these even while the print is in progress.

With the temperature control feature, you can manually heat the printer’s extruder and bed. Just slide the temperature slider for the bed and the extruder to make sure that they are heated to your liking. Or you can choose the presets for PLA and ABS if these are the filaments that you’re going to use.

Filament Bed Extruder
PLA 70º C 180ºC
ABS 130º C 230ºC

What’s more, this section will also show the actual temperatures for both the extruder and the bed.

Movement Control

You can also control the movements of the three axes. You can set these axes together or individually. You can get more precision by moving the X, Y, and Z axes by either 0.1, 1, or 10 millimeters. You can only control the movements of these axes before you start printing.

Setup Features

mattercontrol

Aside from the printing controls, MatterControl will also allow you to calibrate the bed with its automatic leveling feature. This functionality will measure a number of points on the printing bed, see what the angle of the bed is so that it can compensate while printing.

MatterControl also gives you a terminal that will allow you to tinker with the G-code of the object that you are going to print as well as the 3D printer itself.

In a separate settings tab, you can choose what level of settings you want: simple, intermediate, and advanced. This means that you can easily control every aspect of your print when you choose the advanced settings, but you can keep it very straightforward when you choose simple.

Here are the settings that you can adjust with each level:

Simple

  • Fill density
  • Layer height
  • Support material and rafts selection

Intermediate

  • Brims
  • Filament specifications
  • Infill
  • Layer or perimeter customization
  • More details for your rafts and support materials
  • Printer specifications
  • Skirts

Advanced

  • Everything that you can control with simple and intermediate setting levels
  • Additional slicing options
  • Output options
  • Repairs
  • Settings for two or more extruders
  • Switch between a variety of slicing engines

Image Converter

MatterControl also comes with an Image Converter that allows you to easily convert a 2D image into a 3D model.

MatterControl Cloud Sync

MatterControl offers a cloud storage service that lets you store your designs on the cloud and access it from anywhere.

You also have access to the web portal to check on your prints. That means you can see if your 3D prints are completed or not even when you’re miles away from the printer.

MatterControl Design Apps

The Design Apps give you all the tools you need to create or modify any design. That means that you can use MatterControl to design something from scratch. But you can also save time by having access to pre-made designs that you can modify to your liking.

For instance, if you want to 3D print a cup, you can find a design for it. You can then tweak it to be larger, or have a bigger handle for it. You can also add or modify text on the cup, so you can personalize it.

System Requirements

MatterControl doesn’t take too many resources to run. You can use it on Windows PCs, macOS, or Linux. You would need:

  • 2 gigabytes for 64-bit RAM
  • 6 gigabytes of hard disk space
  • An 800 by 600 pixels display
  • At least 1 gigahertz processor
  • DirectX 9 with WDDM 1.0 driver

For smoother operations, you can outfit your computer with a faster processor at least 3 gigahertz, 6 gigabytes of RAM, 100 gigabytes of hard disk space, and a larger display.

What Can Be Better

The Design Apps only allow you to use models that you have previously designed yourself, although there are plans to allow users to share their own designs for everyone’s use.

MatterControl: The Bottom Line

You will love just how MatterControl brings together design, printing, and preparation features into one program. It’s easy to create a design or bring in a design that you can customize according to your preferences.

What’s more, it’s free. Imagine being able to flex your creativity and imagination. You can create the parts and 3D objects you want without being bridled by software limitations. You can also apply customizations as you see fit and work with different slicer programs all within MatterControl.

Everything You Need to Know About Ultimaker Cura

ultimaker cura

Cura is a slicer software that comes from Ultimaker, which makes 3d printers. Anybody can visit the Ultimaker website and download the program for free. They can use it if they have a compatible 3D printer.

Ultimaker Cura is currently the most widely used 3D printing software in the world, with millions of users. You can use it to prepare your prints easily and quickly, customize your printing settings, and even have it work with your CAD program to make your workflow easier and faster.

Features of Ultimaker Cura

As you can guess, Cura also has a range of tools and features that you should know.

Ultimaker Cura’s Slicing Tools

Cura has a flexible and powerful slicing engine that allows you to customize your print settings with just a few clicks. It has pre-set profiles that you can use for reliable printing. You can customers more than 400 different settings, which allows you granular control.

Integrations

Cura is compatible with a lot of devices and third-party software. You can use it to work with a wide variety of files, including

  • 3D Manufacturing File (3MF)
  • Bitmap Image Files (BMP)
  • Graphical Interchange Format files (GIF)
  • Joint Photographic Experts Group files (JPG)
  • Portable Network Graphic files (PNG)
  • Standard Triangle Language and stereolithography files (STL)
  • Wavefront 3D Object files (OBJ)
  • Xara3D Project files (X3D)

What’s more, Cura works seamlessly with Ultimaker 3D printers, as well as CAD programs such as Autodesk Inventor​, Siemens NX, SolidWorks, and others.

Ease of Use

Ultimaker Cura makes 3D printing a whole lot easier. You only spend a few minutes to prepare your model, less if you use the recommended settings. You only have to choose the quality and speed settings to begin printing.

Updates and More

What’s more, Ultimaker regularly updates Cura. This ensures that you have the best tools and the most advanced technologies at your fingertips.

You also have access to the Ultimaker Marketplace, which allows you to download plugins that can better enhance your printing, as well as material profiles so that you don’t have to go through manual inputting when using and setting up third-party materials.

Lastly, you will be awed by the support materials available. There are official support channels for Cura, hundreds of Youtube tutorials on how to use the program, and a knowledge base that has more than 26,000 contributors.

That means that if you encounter a problem or have an issue using Cura, you can rely on both the company and the community of users for some help.

Minimum and Recommended Requirements

You can run Ultimaker Cura on your computer if you have the following specs:

  • 1024 by 768 pixels for the display
  • 4 gigabytes of RAM
  • 550 megabytes of available hard disk space
  • Graphics card that is compatible with OpenGL 4.1
  • Intel Core 2 or AMD Athlon 64

But for Cura to run smoothly, you will need at least an Intel Core i3 or an AMD Athlon 64, 600 megabytes of free hard disk space, and at least 8 gigabytes of RAM.

Ultimaker Cura: The Bottom Line

The thing with using this software is that you can make it as simple as you want. You can just use the recommended profiles and load up your 3D object to start printing. But you can certainly tweak the settings to your heart’s delight if you want full control of your 3D prints.

You can use Cura for machines that have either single or dual extruders. Cura also makes it easy for you to create or revise your design. This program has easy to use tools for that.

Cura lets you do a lot of things, and for the most part, they provide features, functionalities, and tools that perform well. What’s more, Cura is extensible, with a variety of plugins and extensions that you can use.

MatterControl vs Ultimaker Cura: The Showdown

While both MatterControl and Ultimaker Cura are open source and have a wide range of compatibility, there are some minor differences between the two. What are these?

Pricing

Cura and MatterControl are open-source, community-based software that are completely free to use. Cura comes with a number of 3D printers or can be downloaded from the company’s or retailer’s website. MatterControl can be downloaded directly from the company’s website.

Therefore, if you’re unsure which software to go for, you can always try out both. Knowing which one is right will help you save time, money, and material; but you can give both a shot to know which one serves your project’s needs better.

MatterControl vs Cura – Ease of use

Ease of use in 3D slicing software is a rather subjective element. But we rate apps according to its accessibility for beginners. If those starting out can get a hang of software with ease, it should be easy to use.

Between Cura and MatterControl, Cura may seem to have an advantage given its widespread popularity and preset profile options. It is used by beginners and advanced users alike to print models for personal or commercial use. Therefore, it certainly passes the threshold of ease of use with flying colors. However, we’d argue Cura ultimately falls short where MatterControl shines.

MatterControl allows modeling within its app is a huge plus point. It also gives the user the ability to customize G-codes… Coupled with possessing features any quality slicer should, MatterControl is a solid product that is fairly easy to use by individuals of all levels while still providing flexibility and slicing functionality.

MatterControl vs Cura – Support

Support plays a big role in leveling up as a 3D enthusiast or manufacturer. Bugs are part of any software and proactive slicers will routinely update their software to remove bugs, as well as add in other quality of life updates.

Moreover, support can also help with diagnosing any issues you face with your software/printer so you can understand how to optimize your system for your use.

MatterControl and Cura have excellent support backing their open-source software. They are both communities based on their own mod/marketplace and are relatively responsive to consumer feedback.

If you do face any issues with either company, contact their customer service or reach out within their community forums.

MatterControl vs Cura – Pros and Cons

cura printing

MatterControl Pros

  • Free, open-source software
  • Modeling + Slicer in one package
  • Easy to use interface
  • Advanced functionality to fine-tune your printer
  • Excellent results with minimal support and material wastage
  • Frequent updates
  • A diverse community with an integrated software marketplace

MatterControl Cons

  • Slicing may be a bit slower than other option on the matter

Cura Pros

  • Free, open-source software
  • Traditional Slicer with enhanced features
  • A quick, efficient, and visual workspace
  • Customizable
  • High-quality models
  • Updates weekly

Cura Cons

  • Models will need to be edited in a separate CAD file for adjustments
  • Cannot output G-codes
  • Requires more tinkering to get the settings right

Mattercontrol Wastes More Material for the Support

In this video, you will see that using Cura and MatterControl to print the same object, Cura uses far more material to make a brim, while MatterControl has close to no brim.

However, Cura uses less filament to create support than MatterControl. In the end, Cura helps you save more of your filament.

Cura Takes Longer to Finish Printing

MatterControl only took 56 minutes, which is two minutes faster than Cura. That may not sound like a lot of time, but in the video, the sample print was quite small. If you were to print a bigger object, that time difference will be more significant.

Both Makes It Easy to Get the Support off the Print

Support structures and brims are necessary to ensure the stability of your 3D print, so it doesn’t topple over or make sure that one layer holds up even after succeeding layers have been printed.

Some slicers often make it difficult for you to remove the support, which damages the print itself. Thankfully, it’s easy to remove the support and the brim when you use either MatterControl or Cura.

Print Quality

When it comes to print quality both Cura and MatterControl delivers. However, MatterControl did have more contact points between the support and the model itself.

It did, however, used a minimal amount of support that looked more like tree branches that were placed where it was needed.

On the other hand, Cura proved to have a very detailed model that can show you even the smallest detail. Cura used a very minimal amount of filament for the supports and had very few contacts between the support and the print.

Comparison to Other Free Slicer Programs

The thing with the difference between MatterControl and Cura is that they are so small that it’s easy to discount one and go with the other. This fact is more apparent if you compare these two to other free slicer programs such as PrusaSlicer and Ideamaker.

PrusaSlicer

PrusaSlicer is an open-source program that offers a variety of features and comes with regular updates to make sure that things get better as time wears on. You can use it on Linux, Mac, and Windows machines.

prusa slicer

It is currently available in 14 languages and comes with more than 110 resin and filament profiles out of the box. Anybody can use it, be it beginners, advanced users, or experts.

Features of PrusaSlicer

One of the biggest draws of PrusaSlicer is that it manages to keep the user interface clean and straightforward even with all the features that it offers.

You can use the automatic settings for support, or you can customize it to your liking. It can work with a variety of materials and filament profiles are updated automatically.

These are just some of the features that you can expect from PrusaSlicer.

How Does PrusaSlicer Compare with Both MatterControl and Cura

Compared to both Cura and MatterControl, PrusaSlicer uses more material to create support structures than both programs. It also takes significantly longer to finish printing at 73 minutes

When you take off the support for 3D prints, there are a lot of places where the support made contact with the 3D model. This makes the 3D object look dirty and rugged.

Ideamaker

Ideamaker lets you prepare your files for your 3D prints. You can work with compatible file formats such as STL, OBJ, OLTP, and 3MF in just two clicks.

This free slicer has some of the more advanced features that you’d expect from paid software. You can customize the profiles and supports to make each print perfect.

ideamaker

Other features you can expect from Ideamaker include:

  • 3D and cross-section views
  • 64-bit processing
  • Automatic layout of a variety of files that you can print in one go
  • Automatic separation of parts if you’re printing something that needs to be assembled
  • Available in a variety of languages
  • Customizable layer heights
  • IdeaMaker’s library of printing templates, slicing profiles, printing files, and model files
  • Sequential printing

How Does IdeaMaker compare with MatterControl and Cura?

Ideamaker compares with both MatterControl and Cura in that it doesn’t waste too much material when coming up with support structures. What’s more, it prints really fast. Compared to almost an hour for both MatterControl and Cura, IdeaMaker only needs 41 minutes to completely print a similar model.

However, support structures are difficult to remove when you print with IdeaMaker. This can lead to poor print quality and a longer time spent on post-processing.

Simplify3d

simplify3d

If you’re looking for a reliable slicing program with some premium features, Simplify3d cannot be beaten. It has several resources and features to help bring your ideas to life.

Not to mention, if you’re a beginner who learns through the structure, the company provides several tutorials and resources to help you learn the ins-and-outs of 3D printing with Simplify3d. It is also highly visual with easy setup and navigation for users. Adjustments can also be visually seen; thereby improving its overall output.

However, unlike others mentioned in this article, Simplify3d is a paid software that needs to be purchased through the company’s website. It is compatible with most printers and a list can be viewed on their website before purchasing.

Overall, it’s a good, reliable program that many within the industry swear by.

FAQs

What’s the difference between CAD and slicer programs?

When you are 3D printing, you really need two pieces of software that allow you first design your 3D object and then prepare your files for printing.

CAD programs and 3D design software allow you to create 3D models. Some of it can be very easy to use, allowing you, for instance, to draw a circle and the program will take care of making it into a sphere.

Others can get complicated, needing you to specify each dimension that you want to create. Meanwhile, a slicer will “cut” your 3D designs into different layers. These layers will tell your 3D printer where to send the extruder.

Slicers do a lot of stuff in the background such as computing the infill, coming up with the necessary support, and knowing where the outside loops are. But basically, it tells the extruders where it should go. It converts your 3D objects into slices which is what your 3D printers will understand.

Are all slicer programs free?

While MatterControl, Cura, and several others are open source, there are some programs out there that are paid. If you’re wondering, however, how good free programs are, the answer is that they’re pretty good.

In truth, there is not much differentiation between the free programs and the paid ones. Paid programs might get updated more frequently and have dedicated customer support, though. But usually, free programs like the Ultimaker Cura can have a similarly comprehensive technical support, as well as a helpful community.
For paid options, you have quite a number of choices:
KiSSlicer, which beginners and advanced users can use has a free option, but the Pro and Premium versions can cost $35 to $40
•Netfabb Standard, which is geared towards more advanced users can cost you $240 to close to $14,000 yearly
•Simplify3D costs $150 to use

Why is choosing a good 3D slicer important?

You might not think about it too much, but a good 3D slicer can improve the quality of your prints. And the reverse is true: it can ruin a perfectly good print even when you’re using a top-notch 3D printer.
Having a bad 3D slicer program will open your 3D printing process to more mistakes such as failed prints, nothing getting printed, or prints looking bad.

Can MatterControl or Cura open Gcode?

Both MatterControl and Cura allow users to open Gcode. But MatterControl also gives you additional input and output Gcode options, whereas Cura only lets you input Gcode.

How To Print With Cura or MatterControl?

As outlined above, the steps of setting up and accessing print settings do differ in their position, but the process of printing a model is straightforward in both devices.
•Connect your printer to the software
•Set up your preferred settings or load a preset
•Import your model and select your slicing options
Once all parameters have been met, you can simply print the model
Additionally, Cura and MatterControl allow you to set presets with linked printers; thereby you will need to import the model and print directly without any additional steps. It’s a great option for 3D printers in schools.

Does MatterControl or Cura have a Marketplace?

If you are in need of a mod or additional plugins, MatterControl has an integrated marketplace for easy access. Cura has a modding community that you can find to help you out. Additionally, both come with additional plug-in compatibility to boost their functionality.

MatterControl vs Ultimaker Cura: Which One Should You Choose?

If you’re looking for the better slicer, then you can safely consider both MatterControl and Ultimaker Cura. Both are very capable slicers that give you excellent print quality, speedy print times, and you get to use both programs for free. They also don’t waste too much of your filaments and the support and brim are easy to remove from your prints.

As slicer programs go, Ultimaker Cura is slightly better than MatterControl. For one, Cura uses less material for support than MatterControl. It also has fewer contact points between the support and the 3D object you’re printing. It also gives you access to a library of plugins and profiles, some of them are contributed by the user community. Plus, Cura gets updated a lot.

But MatterControl might make sense for some people. For one, it allows you to create your own design within the program itself. Unlike Cura, which works around this using integrations with CAD software.

On top of being a one-stop-shop for your 3D printing tasks, MatterControl does a good job with its slicer tasks. For one, it delivers comparable print quality and doesn’t waste too much of your materials.

Its print times are also slightly faster than Ultimaker Cura. You might want to consider, however, that Cura is updated more frequently than MatterControl.

Solidworks vs Inventor: How to Decide Which Is The Best Pick?

Solidworks vs Inventor

When designing a prototype or creating something that you’d like to print, you can rely on CAD software to help you with the task. Two of the most recommended programs are SolidWorks vs Inventor. These two give you a range of excellent and easy to use tools to help you create and fine-tune 3D objects for your printing needs.

But if you look into these two more closely, you’d find that some things are different and these differences may help you decide to choose one over the other.

Main Differences Between Solidworks vs Inventor

The main differences between Solidworks vs Inventor are:

  • SolidWorks costs more upfront, whereas Autodesk Inventor is available on a subscription basis that may be cheaper at first, but tends to add up over time.
  • SolidWorks is known for being easy to learn and intuitive to use, whereas Autodesk Inventor comes with a steep learning curve.
  • SolidWorks has a growing and large user community that you can tap if you have problems or questions. whereas Autodesk doesn’t have such an offer within their products.
  • SolidWorks works with resellers that can give you better technical and customer support either via phone or e-mail, whereas Autodesk Inventor users are told to use e-mail for their questions.
  • SolidWorks has more career opportunities available for users, whereas Autodesk has a slim selection of companies and industries that require their employees to have Autodesk Inventor experience and skills.

So what should you know about SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor? Which one is better for you? What are the features and tools that they offer? Pull up a chair, get yourself some coffee, and read on!

What is SolidWorks?

SolidWorks is a suite of tools that allows you to make, publish, simulate, and manage everything about your project and data. The range of products offered is very easy to use and learn. SolidWorks makes designing a lot easier.

Solidworks vs Inventor

The first SolidWorks package was released in 1995, which makes it older than some millennials. Dassault Systemes originally made it to be a complete 3D modeling program that works on Windows, but it has since added features that allow it to compete with the best computer-aided engineering and computer-aided design software.

Over the years, SolidWorks also launched simulation and virtual reality features. Today, design and engineering professionals use SolidWorks for stress testing and prototyping.

SolidWorks Features You Should Know

SolidWorks comes with several tools and features that can make life easier for you. First, they have the sustainability tool that will give show you how your design will impact the environment.

SolidWorks also offer you a range of simulation tools that helps you see how your design will hold up to different temperatures, stress, or pressure. In short, you can see how that particular design will perform in real-world conditions without you having to build it first to test it.

SolidWorks Features

But what makes SolidWorks a more noteworthy program is their use of virtual reality and augmented reality. No longer are you just confined to simulations, you can test your design in different situations and environments.

SolidWorks’ design review can also accommodate millions of components because of its large size. What’s more, you can work with all the components you need without draining your CPU’s resources.

How Much does SolidWorks Cost?

SolidWorks charge both for its license and upgrades. You pay $3,995 for the license and then pay another $1,295 for upgrades and support.

  • SolidWorks Standard is the cheapest option but it already has all the design and modeling tools that other versions offer, plus basic rendering and animation tools.
  • SolidWorks Professional adds tools and features for design checking, visualization, and costing, as well as photo-realistic rendering. Professional also allows you to use a scan of a part and reverse engineer it.
  • SolidWorks Premium is the most expensive version and gives you access to all the features offered by SolidWorks. You will probably need this version if you use simulation tools extensively, as well as routing features.
Product Permanent license Annual subscription
Design
SolidWorks Electrical Professional $9,995 $2,750
SolidWorks Premium $7,995 $1,995
SolidWorks Electrical Schematic Professional $5,995 $1,695
SolidWorks Electrical 3D $5,995 $1,695
SolidWorks Professional $5,490 $1,495
SolidWorks Standard $3,995 $1,295
Design validation
SolidWorks Plastics Standard $4,995 $1,499
SolidWorks Simulation Professional $4,177 $2,375
SolidWorks Simulation Standard $3,995 $1,000
SolidWorks Plastics Premium $22,495 $5,624
SolidWorks Plastics Professional $14,995 $3,794
SolidWorks Flow Simulation $13,995 $3,919
SolidWorks Simulation Premium $11,595 $3,675
Data management
SolidWorks PDM Professional Viewer $2,995 $995
SolidWorks PDM Professional CAD Editor $1,895 $495
SolidWorks PDM Professional Contributor $1,350 $395
Technical communications
SolidWorks Composer $5,490 $1,495
SolidWorks Inspection Professional $3,995 $999
SolidWorks Inspection Standard $2,295 $599
SolidWorks MBD Standard $1,995 $499
Sustainable design
SolidWorks Sustainability $2,995 $995

As you can see, there are a lot of flavors for SolidWorks, so it’s best to talk to a reseller about what you need and allow them to match your requirements with the right version.

What Might Need Improving About SolidWorks

One of the things that you might not like about SolidWorks is the fact that it doesn’t offer students and teachers a free license for their software. Users from the academe can download the student edition, which will cost them $99, and that only lasts for a year.

See how SolidWorks compares to others:

What is the Autodesk Inventor?

Autodesk Inventor came four years after the first SolidWorks came out. The inventor directly challenged SolidWorks as it is also a tool for a mechanical design that allowed you to work with both 2D and 3D designs. It also had a good set of simulation and documentation tools.

What is Autodesk Inventor

How Much Does the Autodesk Inventor Cost?

Autodesk uses a subscription model for Inventor, requiring you to pay $1,985 per year. You can save by paying for a three-year subscription at $5,360.

Autodesk Inventor Features Worth Noting

Autodesk Inventor has some editing tools that make your work faster. First, it automates the math behind complex designs. for example, if you’re designing a kinetic blade, the program will do the advanced math behind the scenes, so you can concentrate on designing while Inventor takes care of the minute details.

You can also do some direct editing and free-form drawings, on top of the parametric design. Software like the Inventor and SolidWorks use parametric modeling, wherein your design’s geometry will be based on and changed by certain values.

The free-form modeling and direct-edits capabilities of Inventor allow you to break free of parametric modeling. Further, the Inventor has simulation features that can help you see how your 3D designs work in real-world situations. You can simulate pressure on the joints, or see what happens when a welded part gives way.

Autodesk Features

Aside from these design and simulation features, Autodesk Inventor is also noteworthy because of its speedy loading times. The program loads your design in lightning-fast times because it can ignore the resources-hogging geometric data when you open a design.

Lastly, Autodesk Inventor offers students and teachers a free subscription. The three-year free plan will be excellent for academics to save a lot of money and still be able to use and learn Inventor, as well as other Autodesk products.

What You Won’t Like About Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk Inventor is notorious for being too difficult for beginners to learn. Autodesk products are not known for ease of use and for being user friendly.

What makes matters worse is that Inventor doesn’t have a thriving online community that can help you when you hit a wall. Autodesk tries to make up for this by releasing support materials and tutorials.

Autodesk also prioritizes users who paid for more expensive licenses for their products. So even if you’re first in line, you get bumped off if there’s somebody else who paid more to use Autodesk products.

See how Inventor compares to others:

Autodesk Inventor vs SolidWorks: The Comparison

If you’re choosing between SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor, we can just imagine how difficult it is for you. These are both very capable CAD and CAM software that focus on machine part design and 3D rendering.

These are also forerunners in the space, with established companies behind them. They have excellent tools for visualizations and simulation.

However, to make it easier for you to decide, here’s what’s the same and what’s different with each one.

What’s the Same?

Both programs share a lot of 3D modeling capabilities as both use parametric modeling but also allow you to directly edit your designs. They both offer policy-based automation, parts library, and design tools for weldments, configurations, and even for creating with metals and plastics.

Further, they can also do the same things when it comes to visualization, utilizing animations, exploded views, lighting, materials, textures, and other visualization tools.

The Differences Between Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks

However, these two programs do have several differences that make one better than the other. What are these?

3D Modeling Features

Autodesk Inventor has 3D modeling features that are absent from SolidWorks, including t-splines, electrical harnessing, and tube routing. However, SolidWorks does have a large design review that allows you to work with a lot of components without slowing things down.

Simulation Features

Autodesk Inventor allows you to do finite element analysis both at the assembly and part level, you can only do part level FEAs with SolidWorks. It also has a shape generator that allows you to fine-tune your design so that it’s lighter or smaller, but still structurally efficient.

You can also do dynamic simulation and injection mold analysis with Inventor. Meanwhile, SolidWorks allows you to quickly conduct symmetry checks and geometry comparisons.

SolidWorks also has closed pipe computational fluid dynamics, which lets you see how gas and liquid can flow through your design. However, the biggest advantage that SolidWorks has over the Autodesk Inventor is its ability to use virtual and augmented reality to simulate real-world situations that can affect your design.

Costs

When it comes to costs, SolidWorks is more expensive upfront: a one-time license fee of around $4,000 for the Standard version. You can also opt to buy a subscription add-on for around $1,300. However, pricing for SolidWorks can vary depending on the version you buy and which reseller you work with.

Autodesk Inventor only charges $1,985 a year. What’s more, Autodesk offers you a free three-year subscription for their products if you are a student or a teacher.

Ease of Use

One of the things that you’d like about SolidWorks is how intuitive its user interface is, and how easy to use it is. Autodesk Inventor can sometimes frustrate users who are just learning to use it.

Demand

More companies are using SolidWorks than Inventor. You can see this in the jobs that require these skills. If you are currently trying to figure out which between these two is more in demand, here’s the number of job openings on Indeed and LinkedIn for SolidWorks and Inventor.

SolidWorks

Indeed.com: More than 6,000 jobs in the United States

Solidworks vs Inventor

LinkedIn: More than 25,000 jobs worldwide.

Autodesk Inventor

Indeed.com: Around 400 jobs in the United States.

LinkedIn: More than 1,000 jobs worldwide.

Solidworks vs Inventor

Side-by-Side Comparison: Autodesk Inventor vs SolidWorks

To make things easier for you, here are the costs and features of both SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor, side by side aaa.

  SolidWorks Autodesk Inventor
License fee $3,995 N/A
Subscription (per year, per user) $1,295 $1,985
3D modeling features
Part modeling Yes Yes
Assembly Yes Yes
Parametric modeling Yes Yes
Mesh modeling No Yes
Hybrid modeling No Yes
Direct editing Yes Yes
B-rep surfacing Yes Yes
Rules-based automation Yes Yes
Parts library Yes Yes
Bolted connections Yes Yes
Configurations Yes Yes
Weldments Yes Yes
Sheet metal Yes Yes
Plastics Yes Yes
T-splines No Yes
Design accelerators No Yes
Electrical harnessing No Yes
Tube and pipe routing No Yes
Large design review Yes No
Simulation features
Design for manufacturing Yes Yes
Interference checking Yes Yes
Wall thickness Yes Yes
Part level finite element analysis Yes Yes
Draft analysis Yes Yes
Sustainability analysis Yes Yes
Assembly level finite element analysis No Yes
Shape generator No Yes
Dynamic simulation No Yes
Injection mold analysis No Yes
Symmetry check Yes No
Closed pipe computational fluid dynamics Yes No
Geometry comparison Yes No
AR and VR simulation Yes No
Visualization features
Animations Yes Yes
Exploded views Yes Yes
Walkthroughs and flyovers Yes Yes
Camera view controls Yes Yes
Lighting Yes Yes
Materials Yes Yes
Textures Yes Yes
Ray trace photo rendering Yes Yes

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we answer some of the questions you might find yourself asking when deciding between SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor.

What is CAD software?

Computer-Aided Design software allows design professionals to create more precise designs without spending too much time on it. You only create a 2D shape of the object you’re creating and the software will expand that into a 3D model that you can modify. You can add holes, snaps, and threads to the object as you see fit.

Do you need CAD software for your 3D printing?

For the most part, you can also use 3D modeling software for your 3D printing needs. A 3D modeling program lets you work with 3D shapes instead of starting with a 2D printing. Some 3D modeling software even allows you to shape your 3D object like you would shape real-life clay. Check out software such as SculptGL for programs that offer this functionality.

But which one is the better bet for 3D printing enthusiasts? 3D printing
gear and other simple objects can easily be done with CAD software. But if you have more complex projects such as a character or a figurine, you will want to use a 3D modeling software.

Then again, if you are prototyping a part that you are already designing on CAD software, then you will be happy to know that you can still print these parts, just be sure that your software can save it into STL files so that you can provide the printer with the G-codes it needs to print your object.

Are there any alternatives to SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor?

Yes, there are worthy alternatives to both Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks. some of these are free, while others offer something more than what Inventor and SolidWorks can give you.
Fusion 360, a cloud-based CAD program that allows you to create complex designs and collaborate with a team of designers. What’s more, you can use the resources of the cloud to render your designs. You can store all the steps you made with the design, including the corrections and changes made along the way. Fusion 360 gives you a wide range of features and design capabilities. You pay $297 per year or it comes free for personal use.
FreeCAD is a free program that also gives you parametric 3D modeling. If you’re still starting with CAD designs, this is a good place to start.
AutoCAD is another Autodesk product and is one of the best and most established CAD programs out there. It comes with a steep learning curve and is better suited for 2D drafting, but it does have some 3D capabilities that you shouldn’t snub. You pay $210 per month or $1,690 per year if you choose this program.
CATIA brings together tools and features for CAD, CAM, and CAE. As such, designers, engineers, and product designers can use this for their work. This program also allows for easy collaborations. Made for professionals, this software can be quite expensive with rates starting at $10,000.
OpenSCAD is free CAD software that allows you to create solid 3D models. It allows you to extrude 2D drawings and create a 3D object. Programmers and coders will like using OpenSCAD but the general public will probably find it difficult to use.

Autodesk Inventor vs SolidWorks: Which Should You Choose

When deciding between SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor, you will probably lean towards SolidWorks more. It’s easier to use and has a better set of features than Inventor. What’s more, if you’re using it for 3D printing, SolidWorks has its roots in 3D modeling.

What’s more, SolidWorks has a vibrant and helpful user community. But don’t discount Autodesk Inventor just yet. This software comes from a company that may be considered as a pioneer in the CAD software space, and they do have free options for students and teachers to learn their software. They also have an excellent range of tools for 3D design.

Freecad vs Fusion 360: Which Should You Choose?

In this FreeCAD vs Fusion 360 comparison review, we’re going to explore the features of these two amazing computer-aided design software. There is a wide range of 3D modeling software available (previously covered here) and both FreeCAD and Fusion 360 are widely recognized as great tools for creating incredibly detailed designs for 3D printing.

So which software tool is better?

In this comparison, we will be exploring the main features of each software, the user interface, supported file types, and ease of use. We’ll be comparing the minimum system requirements of each and exploring the toolsets and extensions that you can use. In addition, we’ll be showing you some of the alternative software available to design the products that you want to 3D print.

Main Differences Between FreeCAD vs Fusion 360

The main differences between FreeCAD and Fusion 360 are:

  • FreeCAD is open source and therefore will always be completely free, whereas Fusion 360 has free licenses only for educators and students.
  • FreeCAD has a steeper learning curve, whereas Fusion 360 is relatively user-friendly and intuitive.
  • FreeCAD is still in development, whereas Fusion 360 is a complete product.
  • FreeCAD is free to extend, whereas Fusion 360’s extensions and plugins are of an additional cost.
  • FreeCAD allows you to maintain control of your files, whereas Fusion 360’s files are stored in the cloud.

These are both extremely high functioning software that can be used for complex designs, and many of the features are likely to be used only by those with a background in engineering, however, there is plenty to attract a hobby user, learner, or small business user too. So let’s get into the details and find out more about FreeCAD and Fusion 360.

What is FreeCAD?

freecad

FreeCAD is a 3D modeler used mostly for designing real-life objects of any size. It’s primarily aimed at those working in mechanical engineering and product design, and with its scriptable CAD, there are options for electrical or architectural design too.

FreeCAD was released in October 2002 by authors Jürgen Riegel, Werner Mayer, and Yorik van Havre who wanted to create open-source CAD software to work on all platforms.

One of the key things to know about FreeCAD is that, as an open-source project, it is completely free for all to use. Because it is open-source, you can also add functions to the software using Python programming.

So who uses FreeCAD? A poll on the FreeCAD forum suggests that most people (52%) using FreeCad are doing so for their hobbies – whether the hobby is Computer-aided design or they are making personal real objects. 36% of users said they used it for professional purposes, largely mechanical engineering design and FEM (finite element method) analysis.

Key features of FreeCAD:

  • Architecture
  • Full parametric model
  • Rendering
  • Sketcher
  • Robot simulation
  • Modular architecture
  • Geometry kernel
  • Path mode
  • Standard formats.

What is Fusion 360?

fusion 360

Fusion 360 was designed by Autodesk, the creators of well known and respected AutoCAD, which has been around since the 1980s. In this development, the designers were given free scope to redesign CAD tools, aiming to create a futuristic CAD tool from scratch, thinking about all the things they felt a premium CAD tool should have going into the future.

Designed with educators and students in mind, it aims to help them prepare for the future of design. It is a combined, cloud-based 3D CAD, CAM, and CAE tool. In one platform you are able to conceptualize various versions of your design, combining multiple modeling elements. A variety of analysis methods mean that you can ensure the form, fit, and function of your products.

In addition, you can add electronic intelligence using the Schematic design, PCB layout, and routing capabilities embedded in Fusion 360. With managed user permissions, version control, and cloud storage you can easily manage your data and gain more control.

Fusion 360 allows great collaboration and teamwork in real-time. It’s very easy to then move into 3D printing to see how your prototype works. Within the system, you can test your design using digital simulations of real-world conditions. 2D manufacturing drawings or animations bring it to life for potential investors or customers.

Key features of Fusion 360:

  • Overview
  • Sketching
  • Freeform modeling
  • Surface modeling
  • Parametric modeling
  • Mesh modeling
  • Direct modeling
  • PCB Design Integration

FreeCAD vs Fusion 360 – Features

freecad 1

To help you decide which software would be a better fit for you, we need to look at how they compare in different features and functionality.

User Interface

There are several key components of the new Fusion 360 interface, which was introduced in 2019 and has, to be honest, had mixed reviews. There are four key areas of this interface:

  1. First, when you log in, you get a new blank project. In the top left is the Application bar.
  2. The second key component of the interface is the data panel, where you can see your project and within them, your project files and collaboration.
  3. The third element of the user interface is your own profile area and help section.
  4. Finally, the fourth element is the main toolbar. This differs according to the type of workspace you are planning to use.

The User Interface on FreeCAD is based on Qt, a well known graphical user interface (GUI) used often in Linux but also available in Windows and macOS.

For the uninitiated, it can be a little clunky and over-complicated. It consists of the main view area (and 3D view); a panel containing the tree view and task panel, property editor, selection view, and report view; a Python console; a toolbar area and workbench selector.

Supported File Formats

FreeCAD mainly uses its own file format – FreeCAD Standard file format (.FCStd) – which is a standard zip file holding the files within a particular structure. Within this, Document.xml files have definitions of geometric and parametric objects, GuiDocument.xml has visual representations of these objects, and prep-files include items such as thumbnails of drawings.

In addition to FreeCAD’s own file format, files can also be exported and imported as STEP, DXF, OBJ (Wavefront), SCAD (OpenSCAD), IFC, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), IGES, DAE (Collada), IV (Inventor) and STL (STereoLithography) file formats.

Fusion 360 supports Autodesk Alias (.wire), AutoCAD DWG files, Archive files from Fusion 360, Sim 360 and Autodesk Inventor, Catia V5 files, DXF files, FBX, IGES, NX, OBJ, Parasolid and Pro/Engineer files, Rhino files, SAT/SMT files, STEP files, and STL files. Files can be imported into Fusion 360 and then converted into native files within the software.

Ease of use

Both of the software’s are quite complex with many different functions and it will take a little time to get the hang of all the things they can do. There are many tutorials available on the internet to support you learning different features not to mention the “Get Started in Fusion 360” in the Autodesk help area and the FreeCAD forum.

FreeCAD, in particular, has been described by many users as having a “steep learning curve” but nearly all said that once they had got the hang of it it was a user-friendly software.

System Requirements

FreeCAD has minimum system requirements of

  • Windows 7 or younger, Ubuntu 12.04 or younger, Mac OSX or younger.
  • FreeCAD does not support parallel processing but using a good CPU won’t hurt.
  • The more complex your model the more RAM will be needed. A 64-bit operating system and 8GB of RAM would be a minimum.

Fusion 360 has a minimum requirement of

  • Windows 8.2 or 10, Apple Mac)” Catalina 10.15, Mohave v10.14, High Sierra v10.13.
  • A CPU with a 64-bit processor, 4 cores, 1.7 GHz Intel Core i3, AMD Ryzen 3 or greater.
  • 4 GB of RAM (integrated graphics recommended 6GB or more).
  • The Internet should be at 2.5Mbps or faster download and 500Kbps or faster upload.

Toolsets and Extensions

fusion 360 1

Both FreeCAD and Fusion 360 can be used to make detailed and precise drawings and models for your design.

In FreeCAD the functions are divided into workbenches. Each digital workbench has its own set of tools grouped by task So for example you may use one workbench for drawing a 2D shape and another for working further on them. There is a wide range of built-in workbenches, for example:

  • Draft Workbench – for basic 2D and 3D CAD operations.
  • Arch Workbench – for architectural parts.
  • Part Workbench – for working with CAD parts.

You can also easily program your own additional workbenches using Python, and there is a wide range of Addon Workbenches made by others in the community.

Fusion 360 has previously had two levels of function: Standard and Ultimate. Both already had a range of functions with tools for modeling, rendering, simulation, data management, and manufacturing all self-contained within the software.

They have now introduced Fusion 360 Extensions. This means that those with a Standard license looking for a different set of tools for their project, can purchase the appropriate extension bundle – for example, a Manufacturing Extension to give you tools for metal additive manufacturing – for a specified time period and these tools will immediately become available to you.

The Alternatives to FreeCAD and Fusion 360

Sketchup

sketcup

Sketchup used to be known as Google Sketchup. It’s software for creating 3D models. It has a very user-friendly and intuitive interface allowing you to use push/pull toggles to make a flat surface into a three-dimensional object in your design. In addition, it has an extensive database of models other users have created that you can download and use for your own projects.

Sketchup comes with a wide range of pricing plans depending on what you want to use it for, from a free, web-based version through to a professional architect license.

Rhinoceros 3D

rhinoceros

While Rhinoceros 3D is really a 3D modeling program rather than CAD, it’s probably one of the most versatile modeling software you can find for sale just now.

It has a wide range of design functions and can import a wide range of import files. The best thing about Rhinoceros 3D is that you are able to create such a wide range of shapes with incredible precision, from drawings and sketches and even a 3D scan.

Other Free Options

Here are a few other CAD options that will help you with your 3D printing and that are available for free use.

  • TinkerCAD is another tool from Autodesk. This is a web-based tool giving you easy to use a simple interface yet still allowing you to design complex 3D files. It’s super for design beginners and allows you to save as STL files and also to choose whether to print as solid or hollow.
  • Blender is probably best known for creating 3D computer graphics, but it is also more than capable of producing models for 3D printing. However, it is quite a complex tool to master and has many features that would not be useful to you for your 3D printing.
  • Ultimaker Cura is a great beginners option as it provides tips and recommendations while allowing you to create your own 3D designs.

For some other reviews and comparisons of CAD and other 3D printing software, you could look at our Solidworks vs. CATIA comparison, or check out our verdict on Fusion 360 vs. AutoCAD. We also have a great comparison of AutoCAD vs. Inventor or for another Fusion 360 comparison, we look at how it measures up against Onshape.

FAQs

What is a Computer-aided design?

Computer-aided design – known as CAD for short – is the use of computers to help you design an object. The use of the computer makes it much easier to modify and improve a design, and with extra tools allowing for assessment and analysis and then the addition of 3D printing, you can go from design to prototype all from the screen of your home computer.
CAD helps to improve design quality, supports collaboration, and improves productivity.

How difficult is it to learn CAD for 3D printing?

Both FreeCAD and Fusion 360 are complex software that will require some practice and exploration to get to grips with.
The great thing is that there is a large community of designers on the internet who use both types of technology and not only are you able to find ready-made designs that you can use and customize, but you will also find countless tutorials to support you as you learn the systems.

Is it possible to import files from one type of software to the other?

While FreeCAD and Fusion 360 both have their own preferred file type, these are largely compatible and interchangeable and can also be imported and exported between a wide array of other modeling software. For example, you can import an AutoCAD drawing into Sketchup.

Is FreeCAD really free?

Absolutely. As open-source software, you can use, distribute, or modify the software for personal or commercial work. It really is free!

Can I save my design locally on FreeCAD or Fusion 360?

On Fusion 360 your designs are normally saved in the Cloud. To save them locally you need to click on the details of a design in your dashboard and then click Export and choose which format you would like to download it to your computer. In FreeCAD the files are saved locally.

The Final Word: FreeCAD vs. Fusion 360: Which One Is Better for 3D Printing?

FreeCAD is a great open source project and the contributors and builders are continuing to work on it and add to it with every generation. The fact that it is completely free and will certainly remain so is a huge advantage, and we know that it is only going to get better in the future.

It is flexible and the parametric modeling allows you to design based on existing models. A great feature is the model history, allowing you to make alterations and track your changes. It is great for geometric designs, but not so suitable for organic shapes such as figurines of plants or animals.

However, at this time we would recommend Fusion 360. It is a more complete product with a far more user-friendly interface. The free license for educators and students makes it accessible and if you are working commercially, you’ll find the price-points for the licenses are certainly manageable.

Not only that, but it has an enormous functionality and has the capability to manage, create, and manipulate organic and natural shapes. There are a range of learning options and the extremely active Fusion 360 forum where you will always find somebody willing to give you support and advice.

We think that while FreeCAD is a super piece of software, and definitely a project to support and get involved with, from the point of view of 3D printing, Fusion 360 is the better product.

The Main Differences Between Sketchup and AutoCAD

It is an excellent time to be into 3D printing. For one, printers are getting more powerful and capable while their pricses continue to drop. And you have several options when it comes to 3D modeling and rendering. Two of the best programs out there are AutoCAD and Sketchup, and you are wondering which one is better.

Main Differences Between AutoCAD vs Sketchup

The main differences between AutoCAD vs Sketchup are:

  • AutoCAD is a computer-aided design software, whereas Sketchup is a 3D-modeling program.
  • AutoCAD is more geared towards professional users, whereas Sketchup is an excellent option for hobbyists.
  • AutoCAD is more expensive, whereas Sketchup allows you to save some dollars.
  • AutoCAD offers compatibility with more file formats, whereas Sketchup is simpler to use and master.
Why is AutoCAD 2018 Great?
$185.99
AutoCAD will always be the King of Software that covers a lot of industry functions and gives you data based on your design objects.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
04/08/2021 06:09 pm GMT

What Is Autodesk AutoCAD?

autocad

Autodesk AutoCAD is probably one of the best-known computer-aided design software out there, with some of the top organizations in the world using for their needs, including the California Institute of the Arts, the Durst Organization, and Helix Electric.

This CAD and drafting program has been around since the early 1980s, having the distinction of being the first CAD software that ran on desktop computers. Now you have versions of AutoCAD running on the cloud as a web application and a mobile app.

It can be used to create two- and three-dimensional drawings and models. You can draw your designs by hand. You can even group objects or use different layers.

You can work with a database of your objects, which makes it reusable in the future. You can resize, reshape, and relocate various properties of your object.

Who uses AutoCAD? Architects, interior designers, aeronautics designers, artists, cartographers, and graphics artists can enjoy the software’s many features.

There is also a few similar programs like AutoCAD such as Turbocad, Solidworks, Revit etc, so here check how how they all compare, and which would be the best for your type of work…

Autodesk AutoCAD 2021: Features

What are the features that you can expect from a program that is older than some of its users? Not surprisingly, this program offers a lot of functionalities including industry-specific toolsets for:

  • Architecture
  • Electrical
  • Three-Dimensional Map
  • Mechanical
  • Plant 3D
  • Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing
  • Raster Design

It also has tools for two-dimensional drafting, annotation, and drawing. You can work with text, centerlines, and even link data from spreadsheets, among other things.

When it comes to 3D modeling and visualization, Autodesk also offers a wide range of features and tools, including:

  • Mesh, solid, and surface modeling
  • Section planes
  • Point clouds
  • 3D navigation
  • 3D rendering
  • Visual styles
  • Cloud rendering

What’s more, Autodesk makes it easy for you to collaborate, allowing you to use PDF files, sheet sets, DGN files, and even use model references.

What Is SketchUp?

skektchup

Sketchup, which used to be known as Google Sketchup is a software that lets you create 3D models. It is very easy to use with its Push and Pull tool, which allows you to make any flat surface into three-dimensional objects. Click on any flat object and then pull on it until it looks the way that you want it to look.

Plus, it has an extensive database of models that other users have created that you can download and use for your own projects.

Video game creators, furniture designers, 3D printers, interior designers, and just about any other design professional can find tremendous help in using Sketchup. Sketchup also allows you to draw in 2D.

What makes Sketchup more fun is the presence of plugins that are created by third-party providers. Sketchup has the Extension Warehouse, where you can download these plug-ins. Think of it as the Play Store for downloading apps for Android devices.

There is also the Sketchup 3D Warehouse that allows you to download files other users created. If you need a model of something, you do not have to create it from scratch. Instead, you can look up the Sketchup 3D Warehouse and search for completed models that you can modify.

Autodesk AutoCAD vs Sketchup Features

If you are trying to decide between Autodesk AutoCAD and Sketchup for your 3D printing needs, then you should know how they differ from one another.

1. User Interface

When you are using Sketchup, you will be more reliant on shortcut keys and the tool icons in designing your objects. The user interface is simple and easy to master, plus you will have no problems finding your way around.

AutoCAD, however, offers you more ways to use it: menus, tool icons, shortcut keys, and command lines.

2. Supported File Formats

Autodesk AutoCAD is compatible with more file formats than Sketchup. Sketchup has a wide assortment of compatible file formats, but AutoCAD works with more.

Both programs work with:

  • 3D Studio 3DS
  • Drawing or DWG
  • Drawing Exchange Format or DXF
  • Filmbox or FBX
  • Joint Photographic Experts Group or JPG
  • Portable Network Graphic or PNG

In addition to these, Sketchup also works with Wavefront OBJ and stereolithography (STL) files, while AutoCAD works with:

  • Rhinoceros 3DM
  • Inventor IPT
  • Portable Document Format
  • The standard for the Exchange of Product Data or STEP files.
  • 3. Budget: Pricing and Licensing

Sketchup offers a lot of pricing and licensing options for its users. There is a free Web-only option for those who will be using it for their own personal purposes. If you like it or if you want to use it for your personal projects, you will need to spend $119 per year for the Sketchup Shop.

If you want to use Sketchup for your professional projects and get access to the desktop version of the program, you can opt for the Sketchup Pro. This plan will set you back $299 a year.

Other plans include:

  • Sketchup Studio for professionals who design buildings, $1,199 per year.
  • Sketchup Studio for students, $55 per year
  • Sketchup Studio for educators, $55 per year
  • Sketchup for Schools, free with a Microsoft education or G Suite account
  • Sketchup pro for computer labs, free with a state grant

If you want access to the 3D Warehouse, you will need a Sketchup Shop account, while a Sketchup Pro account will give you access to the 3D Warehouse and the Extension Warehouse.

Autodesk AutoCAD, on the other hand, has a much simpler scheme. You can get a license for anywhere from $1,400 to $2,400 depending on the frequency of your payments. Students and teachers can enjoy using AutoCAD for free.

If you are a network administrator, you can opt for the network license that will allow you to share one license with a number of users.

4. Ease of Use

Autodesk AutoCAD is a CAD software. It helps you design things easily. Meanwhile, Sketchup is a 3D-modeling program.

Sketchup’s main selling point is how easy it is to use and master. You can probably get the hang of it in a few hours. AutoCAD requires long hours of practice and a lot of familiarities before you can confidently say that you’ve mastered it.

5. System Requirements

AutoCAD requires a faster and more powerful computer to work. For instance, your Windows computer should at least have:

  • 64-bit operating systems
  • A fast processor, they recommend that you should get a three gigahertz processor or faster
  • A minimum of eight to 16 gigabytes of memory
  • A 1,920 by 1,080 pixels display with True Color or a 3,840 by 2,160 4K display
  • 1 GB graphics processing unit
  • Around 7 gigabytes of free disk space
  • .NET Framework version 4.8 or later

Meanwhile, Sketchup works on a Windows machine with:

  • 1 gigahertz processor
  • 4 gigabytes of RAM
  • 500 megabytes of free hard-disk space
  • A 3D class video card that has 512 megabytes of memory or higher
  • The video card should also support hardware acceleration and at least OpenGL 3.1.

6. Toolsets and Extensions

You can use both Sketchup and Autodesk AutoCAD for your design needs. They can help you make detailed and precise drawings and models.

Sketchup makes your life easier with its selection of plugins and tools that they have in the Extension Warehouse. However, you can only access these when you have a Pro or Shop license.

With the Extension Warehouse, you will be able to add more functionality to Sketchup and get tools for very specific workflows and customization. You can get plugins for 3D printing and other activities. You can install only the plugins that you need.

AutoCAD, on the other hand, has toolsets for different activities such as mechanical designs, electrical drawings, and floor plans, among others.

Sketchup vs. Autodesk AutoCAD: Which One Is Better for 3D Printing

autocad

Both AutoCAD and Sketchup are powerful tools for 2D drawings and 3D models. These programs have a range of features that can make your life a whole lot easier.

However, Sketchup is more geared towards 3D modeling than AutoCAD. It is a software that makes 3D easy and has been designed as such from the start. In contrast, AutoCAD can be described as a 2D drawing program that has 3D modeling capabilities.

On the other side of the coin, it can be said that AutoCAD is for those professionals that need high-quality technical drawings. It can create a level of accuracy, adaptability, and detail that Sketchup cannot offer.

As such, Sketchup seems to be the better choice for 3D printing. It can deliver a good-enough level of accuracy, while making modeling easier and visualization a breeze. It is also more affordable than an AutoCAD license.

The Alternatives to Autodesk AutoCAD and Sketchup

If you are figuring out what you to use for your 3D modeling jobs, you might want to consider other software aside from either AutoCAD or Sketchup. Here are some that you can consider:

Autodesk Fusion 360

autodesk

If AutoCAD is geared towards professionals, then consider another product from the same company: Fusion 360. This 3D printing software brings together engineering, manufacturing, and design features in one powerful software.

You will have full control over the shapes, and access powerful features to help you create detailed models. It also allows for quick collaboration work with other hobbyists and designers.

The best thing is that it is cheaper than both the paid versions of Sketchup and AutoCAD. You only pay $42 per month for the annual license and $60 for the monthly license.

Rhinoceros 3D

rhnoceros 3d

Rhinoceros 3D is probably one of the most versatile modeling software that you can find on the market right now. You can enjoy the assortment of design functionalities that it offers.

You can import files coming from different programs, including OBJ, STL, STEP, DXF, and other file formats.

The Free Options

There are also 3D printing programs that you can use for free.

  • Ultimaker Cura is an excellent option for beginners as it provides tips and recommendations while allowing you to create your own 3D designs.
  • TinkerCAD is a web-based tool that gives you an easy to use and simple interface but still allows you to design complex 3D objects. You can proceed to print immediately because it supports STL files.
  • Meshlab gives you the tools to easily process and edit 3D meshes.

FAQs

What is computer-aided design?

Computer-aided design is the process of using computers to help create, modify, analyze, or optimize a design. CAD has several benefits in that it:
– Helps the designer become more productive
– Improve the design’s quality
– Create documentation of the design, which improves communications
– Create a manufacturing database

Is it easy to learn CAD for 3D printing?

While there is a learning curve, it is entirely possible to learn AutoCAD or Sketchup for your 3D printing needs. Between these two, Sketchup is probably your better option if you’re a beginner. But if you’re looking for more powerful designs, then you can try out AutoCAD.

For some designs, you can get into online communities and find ready-made designs that you can use. All you need to do is to customize them to what you need.

Here are some tips on how to learn CAD for 3D printing:

Does Sketchup work with AutoCAD?

Yes. You can import SKP files into AutoCAD using the Sketchup Import plug-in that is provided by Autodesk. You can also type IMPORTSKP command to insert a Sketchup model into your AutoCAD drawings.

Conversely, you can import your AutoCAD drawings into Sketchup.

The Final Word: Sketchup vs. Autodesk AutoCAD

Why is AutoCAD 2018 Great?
$185.99
AutoCAD will always be the King of Software that covers a lot of industry functions and gives you data based on your design objects.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
04/08/2021 06:09 pm GMT

Sketchup is a capable software that allows you to make 3D models with ease. It does not have a steep learning curve and has a lot of features that can make your life a lot less complicated.

Its cheaper price point and free Web-only version should draw users into trying it out, but the paid versions allow you to access third-party extension and user-created content that can further help you work smarter.

That being said do not discount Autodesk AutoCAD just yet. If you have plans of going pro with your 3D printing, then AutoCAD will not be a bad investment. It has its own set of features, functionalities, and tools that allows you to get better quality 3D models that are both highly detailed and precise.