MatterControl vs Cura [2020]: 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 prices 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?
$200.99
AutoCAD will always be the King of Software that covers a lot of industry functions and gives you data based on your design objects.
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10/27/2020 12:10 pm UTC

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

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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.

Blender vs Fusion 360: Which One Will You Like More?

When you want to come up with your own designs for 3D printing, there is several computer-aided design software that you can use. Two of the best are Blender and Autodesk Fusion 360. Both are widely used and have a range of features that you can use. But which one should you choose?

Main Differences Between Blender vs Fusion 360

The main differences between Blender vs Fusion 360 are:

  • Blender has a confusing user interface, whereas Fusion 360 has a more intuitive user interface that relies on drop-down menus.
  • Blender requires plugins so it can work well with 3D printing, whereas Fusion 360 has more advanced and enhanced 3D modeling and printing tool.
  • Blender is free to use with an open-source license, whereas Fusion 360 costs around $500 and is free only for hobbyists and start-ups earns no more than $100,000 annually.

Read on as we discuss each software, their features, and go more in-depth about their differences. Finally, we answer the question of which one you should use.

Autodesk Fusion 360: Everything You Need to Know

Autodesk Fusion 360 offers you mechanical design, manufacturing, and organic shapes modeling all in one package. This computer-aided design, computer-aided engineering, and computer-aided manufacturing software are cloud-based, making collaboration easy in every stage of product development. It allows iteration and exploration with ideas, as well as collaboration even with a product team with members distributed around the world.

Computer-aided modeling

With Autodesk Fusion 360, you can use a comprehensive suite of modeling tools that allows you to guarantee fit, function, and form of whatever product you have. When it comes to modeling you can create and edit sketches. You can also import geometry into the program and edit and repair it. You can do some parametric modeling, which allows you to change the shape of the object you’re designing by changing the dimension value.

Further, you can design the components that use sheet metal parts and keep track of flat patterns using DXFs and two-dimensional drawings. You can also create designs that specify cutting strategies for plasma, laser, or water jet machines.

If you plan to do some mesh modeling, you can just import mesh models or scans into Fusion 360 and be able to change or repair these. Fusion 360 also has tools that will allow you to analyze assembly motion.

Other 3D modeling features you can get from Autodesk Fusion 360 include:

  • Freeform modeling
  • Surface modeling
  • PCB design integration

Electronics

fusion 360

Autodesk Fusion 360 makes it easy for you to add electronic intelligence using functionalities integrated into this software, such as the schematic design, PCB layout, and routing. You can create and edit schematics, even design a complete PCB layout and even generate drill and assembly files with just one button click.

Further, you can check the integrity of your circuit design and see how the circuit will behave with the integrated SPICE (simulation program with integrated circuit emphasis) simulation.

With Fusion 360, you can set manufacturing requirements with configurable design rules. And because this software integrates both manufacturing and electronics CAD, you can be sure that tour PCB fits. Fusion 360 also makes it easier by offering you a component library that allows you to use ready-made parts rather than creating your own. Lastly, Autodesk Fusion 360 allows you to design an electronics cooling system.

Other features that you can enjoy include:

  • Data management made easy because of a unified development process. You have more control over user permissions, cloud storage, and version control.
  • Collaboration is possible and quickly done because your teams are connected, as well as your customers. Everyone can communicate in real-time and project activity is all in one place.
  • You can design and manufacture prototypes in record time. Your design changes will not mean that your project will need a restart.
  • Enjoy generative design wherein you can specify your design specifications while also improving performance, reducing weight, and using fewer parts.
  • You can test your designs when you simulate real-world conditions and see where the problem areas are, and how to address the issues.
  • You can make animations, renderings, and drawings for your design, making it easy to communicate it to your clients and other stakeholders, while also making documentation a breeze.
  • Program your computer numerical control machines with Fusion 360.
  • You can integrate advanced manufacturing technologies into your design, making it easy to automate while also having more control over the processes and your machine.

Benefits of Using Autodesk Fusion 360

Using this cloud application, you can save time. In fact, some users note that processes and models that used to take days to finish can now be completed in just hours.

No matter what CAD, CAM, or CAE needs you have, Fusion 360 has a tool for that. You have a wide range of modeling tools, as well as environments for making sheet metal parts and surfaces. You also get a simulation environment that will let you see your design and prototype at work. There are also rendering tools that you can use for making drawings, renderings, and animation.

You will be hard-pressed to find another software that offers these many functionalities, features, and tools. What’s more, you have the processing and computing power of the cloud to do all of these things, which means your computer will not crawl to a stop as you conduct a rendering or a mechanical stress test on your designs.

Updates and maintenance are also simplified. Rather than installing, upgrading, and maintaining your CAD software, you only need to install the client. Not only do you avoid spending weeks and weekends planning and executing the installation or upgrade, but you also do not have to worry about servers that might need upgrading.

Autodesk Fusion 360: What Can Be Better

While there is round-the-clock support for this software, you will need to rely on documentation for training your staff. Autodesk does no offer in person or live online training for this software. They also don’t have webinars that you can learn from.

Also, easy collaboration is one of the selling points for this software. However, as far as collaboration tools go, this one is very limited. You can enjoy task and project management tools and version control, but that’s pretty much it. There is no easy way to brainstorm, manage content, documents, and calendar schedules. It doesn’t support discussion boards or video conferencing as well.

Another cause for concern is that it is cloud-based, which might prevent some companies from using it because of regulatory compliance or security concerns.

The Skinny on Autodesk Fusion 360

This cloud-based CAD, CAM, and CAE application is an excellent choice for those who want either a primary design software or a supplemental program to their current design software. You will appreciate how extensive the tools it has, as well as the easy collaboration on data. It really does streamline your design process, helping you save hours and hours of work.

It may not have all the tools and features that you are using with your existing design software, but that should be no problem as Autodesk has been constantly developing and upgrading this program. If you would like to know how Autodesk Fusion 360 compares, check Fusion 360 vs Inventor and Fusion 360 vs AutoCAD.

What You Should Know About Blender

blender 3d modeling

Blender is a free animation and 3D modeling suite. This open-source software helps you create animated movies, video games, 3D printing models, among others.

Features

Blender is an excellent software for 3D modeling. You have a variety of features at your disposal such as animation, modeling, rigging, rendering, motion tracking, and making composites. To make it easier and faster for you to create 3D models, you can use keyboard shortcuts for some common operations. It also has N-Gon support, edge slide, bridge fill, grid fill, and others.

You can also make use of modifiers that can automatically apply effects to your models, saving a lot of tedious steps and time. Meanwhile, the UV unwrapping features allow you to paint on your models directly. You can have fast cube, sphere, camera, and cylinder projections. You can even work with multiple UV layers and paint directly on the mesh.

Sculpting is also faster and easier with Blender. You can work with 20 different brush types such as blob, clay, crease, deepen, smooth, nudge, and snake hook. Each one of these brushes will have a different effect on your model. Blender also allows for mirrored sculpting and multi-res sculpting.

When it comes to animation, Blender allows you to add movements to your character. You can even edit poses, or give your characters independent movements with non-linear animation. The software will also allow you to synchronize sound. With its rigging features, you can transform your model into a posable character in no time.

The use of constraints can also help you limit an object’s animation. You can use shape keys, which act as morph targets. These shape keys allow you to change your character’s facial expressions, as well as tweaking a skeletal rig. Blender also has video editing and game creation features. If you want to customize specialized tools or customize your Blender, you can do that as well. It works on a variety of platforms including macOS, Linux, and Windows

What Can Be Better About Blender

Blender is not one of those software that are easy to master. There is a steep learning curve and it can take a long time before you can comfortably work with the software. This is true even if you have worked with other animation and modeling software before.

Blender: The Bottom Line

With the sheer number of features, you will find that Blender is a great tool for 3D printing enthusiasts. It’s difficult to believe that it’s free software. It does take time to learn, however, and you can expect to spend a lot of time watching tutorials or checking out the documentation. Trust us, however, when we say that it’s worth it.

The Main Differences Between Blender and Fusion 360: An In-Depth Look

blender modeling

If you are choosing between Autodesk Fusion 360 and Blender, it helps to go beyond just the features that they offer.

Community

Blender has been around since 1998 and it has a lot of users that translate to a vibrant and helpful community. It helps that it is an open-source program, which allows you to customize everything. Blender Foundation, the people behind the program, has also been hard at work incorporating features for exporting STLs, animation, image manipulation, 3D modeling, simulation, game development, and video editing.

Fusion 360 has not been around as long as Blender, having been launched only in 2013. Autodesk has maintained and run the software since then, and most of the support materials that you can find for this software comes from the company.

What It Can Do

Blender has tools for 3D modeling, animation, video and image editing, simulation, and game development.

Autodesk Fusion 360 is great for machining, engineering, and design. It cannot be used for video editing and game development.

Price

Blender has been free to use from the start. Autodesk Fusion 360 works on a cloud-based model and costs around $500 a year. However, it’s free to use for startups that earn less than $100,000 annually or for hobbyists.

Ease of Use

While a common complaint about Blender is how difficult it is to master, the 3D modeling environment is intuitive. You can rely on hotkeys and shortcuts to execute commands quickly, plus you have access to modifiers and add-ons that can help make your job easier and faster.

Natural shapes are quite easy to model in Blender, allowing you to deform, distort, and modify them fast.

While Blender is intuitive and can feel natural, Fusion 360 feels more professional and precise. The workspace is streamlined, but you can easily call up the tools that you need from a menu.

Autodesk Fusion 360 is easier to use with its streamlined interface and the use of large drop-down menus. Blender users rely on hotkeys and the user interface can be a bit daunting for most. Even the revamped UI introduced in Blender 2.8 can’t hold a candle to the user-friendly workspace you see on Fusion 360.

What It Is Best for

Because of its focus on precision, Fusion 360 is for the serious designer who wants to create a fast and functional prototype of his or her product. However, Blender is for those who want to work with 3D objects without putting much thought into it.

FAQs About Blender vs. Fusion 360

Do you really need to have CAD software?

Hobbyists looking for STL files on several websites such as Pinshape, MyMiniFactory, or Thingiverse to find models to 3D print. You have a lot of choices and you will probably run out of filament many times before exhausting all the STL files available on these sites.

But if you have a particular 3D object in mind, then you will need a CAD software such as Blender or Autodesk Fusion 360 to come up with an STL file for your printer to work with.

Are there alternatives to both Blender and Fusion 360?

If you’re not convinced with either Blender or Fusion 360, there are other CAD software that you can use.

  • Rocket 3F is a polygonal modeler that is fun, friendly, and fast. It has all the tools you need to create your 3D models.
  • Daz Studio is an excellent 3D model customization, animation, and posing tool that even beginners can use.
  • Houdini Apprentice allows you to create 3D animation and visual effects
  • Hexagon is a surface modeler that is easy to use.
  • Sculptris is an excellent sculpting tool.
  • Modo is a paid software but has powerful 3d modeling and rendering features.

How do you choose a 3D modeling software?

The thing with 3D modeling software is that it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing. What may be the best software for you is not the best for everyone. There are some considerations that you should take:

  • Do you have enough RAM and disk space? Most 3D modeling software needs at least 16 gigabytes of RAM and around 5 gigabytes of storage space.
  • Will you need a powerful graphics card? Check to see if your graphics card, processor, and memory are up to par with the minimum requirements that the software recommends you to have. This will allow you to avoid any lags when you’re creating 3D images.
  • Free or paid? There are some notable 3D modeling software that are free but have features that you can find on paid programs. On the other hand, paid software should deliver great support, ease of use, and intuitive interfaces.

Blender vs. Fusion 360: Which One Should You Choose?

Blender has its draws. It’s free and it has all the features that you will need to do excellent animation, 3D art, sculpting, and video effects. Plus, it’s easy to make organic shapes and structures and it was a helpful community of users you can rely on. However, Blender does neglect 3D printing and you will need to rely on add-ons.

Fusion 360, on the other hand, allows you to create 2D drawings, transform it into a three-dimensional format, and then print your design as you have envisioned it. You can also rely on this software for easy export for laser cutting, plasma cutting, water jet, or CNC machines. Perhaps, for 3D printing enthusiasts, the best feature of Fusion 360 is the enhanced tools for 3D printing it offers, such as slice preview.

But if you’re a hobbyist, both the Blender and Fusion is free to use, so why not use both software if you have the time and patience to learn.

Solidworks vs CATIA [2020]: Which 3D Modeling Software is Best?

If you want to execute sophisticated 3D printing projects, finding a good modeling software is essential. Today we’re going to compare Solidworks vs CATIA – two popular 3D modeling programs from Dassault Systèmes.

These products have many features and qualities in common, but one of them is more advanced and comprehensive, while the other is more simple and has limited features. This article will guide through their most significant differences and help you choose the one that’s going to work for you.

First, here’s a brief summary of the main differences between Solidworks and CATIA.

Main Differences Between Solidworks vs CATIA

The main differences between Solidworks vs Catia are:

  • Solidworks is easier to learn and more suitable for beginners, whereas CATIA is better for experienced users
  • Solidworks is designed particularly for 3D solid objects modeling, whereas CATIA is an all-arounder
  • Solidworks is compatible with Windows only, whereas CATIA works on Windows and Unix
  • Solidworks is a mid-range product, whereas CATIA is high-end
  • Solidworks doesn’t provide differentiation based on roles, whereas CATIA offers intuitive role-based functionality

Exploring Solidworks and Catia features

solidworks

Solidworks and Catia are both well-known 3D CAD programs used mainly in fields such as product design, electrical and mechanical engineering, automotive industry and aviation, and architecture.

Although they might look very similar to an untrained eye, when you take a detailed look at some of their functions such as 3D rendering, sketching, role-based differentiation, or integration with some of the libraries, you will discover many notable differences. Let’s compare some of their features and qualities in detail.

Drawing and modeling

Computer-aided design programs are mainly used for precise technical drawings and designs. So whether you’re just designing new requisites for your cosplay costume, or you’re creating a vital component for innovative machinery, this is the feature you need to consider the most.

Both compared programs have sketching, 2D, and 3D drawing capabilities. And both of them, of course, can create printable models for your 3D printer. But which one works better?

Solidworks is mainly designed for 3D modeling, so that’s where the program is really strong and capable. Solidworks is a parametric modeling software, which means that it works with the dimension values provided by the user.

When you modify dimensions, your model is reshaped accordingly by the program. This makes the software great for product design and various projects related to machinery. On the other hand, Solidworks completely lacks some of the tools and skills needed for architecture projects.

CATIA has more sophisticated and versatile tools for drawing, modeling, and sketching. Though their use requires more skills and experience, you will be rewarded for your efforts with the results that are stunningly accurate and imaginative.

This particularly applies to CATIA’s extra smooth 3D rendering and Photo-to-Shape app, which creates immersive 3D models from 2D photographs. Although SolidWorks is also capable of photorealistic rendering, the results are slightly less impressive.

Workflow and collaboration

catia

If you own a 3D printer, you might be working on your private project and depend only on your own capabilities and workflow.

But most of the projects that include sophisticated CAD programs are executed by teams of numerous designers. Software’s ability to manage such collaboration is therefore one of the important factors most of the designers need to consider.

Solidworks provides a cloud environment that facilitates collaboration between multiple team members. It is easy to use and quite intuitive, helping you capture, share, and store all your new ideas easily and quickly. However, collaborative features of this program are quite limited and focused mainly on reviewing and sharing. Solidworks also lacks any form of role-based differentiation.

CATIA offers pretty much everything that comes with Solidworks, but it adds one very important feature, and that’s role-based differentiation of functionality.

With CATIA, you have more than 50 roles at your disposal, so you can manage your projects even more effectively. CATIA’s collaborative designer center is called ENOVIA, and it offers great management solutions even for extended enterprises.

Modules and libraries

Good three-dimensional modeling software is like an open organism – the more flexibility, compatibility, and support it has, the better it usually is.

Solidworks is a relatively thin 3D modeling software, which is great if you want the process to be simple, but it also limits your overall possibilities and options. For example, although Solidworks is compatible with Modelica libraries, they are not integrated into the program itself, which limits their usability.

The program contains several dozens of integrated partner products either for CAD design or Product Data Management, which nicely extends your options, but in comparison with its competition, Solidworks still remains the less flexible software.

CATIA is a robust software that comes with impressive support – since 2006, a new updated version of this software is produced every single year. The software comes with about 129 unique products that provide users with almost unlimited options. CATIA software also integrates Modelica libraries directly, allowing their full utilization.

Thanks to this versatility, CATIA is perceived as one of the most universal and flexible CAD programs on the market. While Solidworks is great when you focus on one particular component or task, CATIA is the program you choose for executing a whole project, whether it concerns aviation, automotive industry, architecture, or educative projects.

Compatibility with different platforms

catia 3d printing

If you’re not ready to adjust your whole technical setup to the 3D modeling software of your choice, consider the program’s compatibility with your devices carefully. This is especially important if you’re working with multiple collaborators, who can have all the different technical equipment. Unfortunately, both programs we compare today are rather limited in this regard.

Solidworks, for example, is currently working only on Windows computers. If you want to use it on your Mac, you can theoretically run Solidworks with virtual Windows parallels, since the program recently started supporting this, but you should prepare for various drawbacks and limitations that make this solution quite unfavorable.

However, Solidworks has developed several other products for macOS: they include eDrawings Viewer, eDrawings, and eDrawings Professional.

CATIA is also compatible mainly with Windows, but in addition to that, it also works with Unix operating system, which is renowned for its great multitasking and multi-user functionality.

Both Solidworks and CATIA can also be accessed via smartphone applications thanks to the Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE cloud platform. Solidworks also offers an educational application for kids and young thinkers.

Price

solidwoks price

As you probably already know by now, Solidworks represent more simple and less complex 3D modeling software that is more suitable for beginners, smaller enterprises, and those on a budget. CATIA is more robust, capable, versatile – and also more expensive. Here’s an overview of prices for both products:

Solidworks licenses come in three alternative versions – commercial, academic, and research. There are also 3 available packages to choose from: Basic, Professional, and Premium. If you’re a student, you can get a Solidworks license for one year for $150, but note that this will not be the program’s full version.

Basic license for Solidworks software will cost you $3,995, and be prepared to pay another $1,295 annually as a maintenance fee. An alternative plan allows you to get a term license at $810 per 3 months. The basic license includes the following features:

  • 3D Modelling
  • Mold Design
  • Assembly
  • Static Stress Simulation
  • CAM Standard
  • Weldments
  • Plastic Parts
  • Sheet Metal

The Professional Solidworks costs $5490 + an annual fee of $1495 (or $1080 per 3 months). On top of the standard features, you’ll also get:

  • PDM Standard
  • Photorealistic Rendering
  • Cost Estimation
  • Part Libraries
  • Circuit Works
  • Advanced simulation features

A premium license is available at $7995 with a $1995 annual fee (or $1450 per 3 months). It comes with these exclusive features:

  • Structural part and assembly analysis
  • Wire, pipe and duct routing
  • Analysis of the environmental impact
  • Advanced surface flattening
  • Premium simulation features

You can also request a free Solidworks demo or test-drive the program online to understand its basics and determine, whether it really is the best solution for you. To request a personalized quote, you have to fill a simple form on the official Solidworks webpage or ask your authorized reseller.

CATIA is designed mainly for larger enterprises, and its prices accurately reflect the software’s bold functionality. But it also comes with more affordable basic plans for small entrepreneurs or even truly a budget-friendly option for students, who can enjoy some of the program’s distinct qualities for just $99 per year.

The final price quote for your CATIA license will be affected by several different factors, so the only way to know how much will it actually cost you is to ask for a quote through the official website or your authorized reseller.

In any case, be prepared to pay approximately $11,200 for CATIA’s Basic license (one-time payment) plus an annual maintenance fee of $2,000. If you’re not ready to invest so much at once, you can also lease the program, which will cost you $1,700 per three months or $4,500 annually.

CATIA’s standard modules include:

  • Mechanical design
  • Generative shape design
  • Analysis & Simulation features
  • Architecture, Engineering, and Construction layout designing
  • Machining
  • Digital Mockup (DMU)
  • Machining Simulation
  • Equipment & Systems
  • Ergonomics Design & Analysis

If you want to invest in additional role-based modules, you will pay $2,700 – $19,000 on top of the basic price plus an 18% annual maintenance fee. Unlike Solidworks, CATIA is not available in a free trial CATIA version, but you can request a demo.

Solidworks vs CATIA Ease of use

solidworks molds

If you’re a 3D printing rookie who needs to learn how to use 3D modeling programs from scratch, Solidworks will most likely be your best choice. This program is very intuitive and it’s easy to orientate in its interface and somehow limited modules. That allows you to master your designing and modeling skills relatively fast and easy.

CATIA computer-aided designing program is much more complex, so it might be a bit overwhelming for a total beginner. On the other hand, it’s obvious that CATIA’s creators invested a lot of time and effort into the program’s excellent user experience.

Once you orientate in all of its features and modules, you will find them very logical and intuitive too. If you have previous experience with Solidworks before trying out CATIA, it will be your advantage, because these programs are navigated and controlled quite similarly.

What support is available for Solidworks and CATIA

Dassault Systèmes, a French company that produces both Solidworks and CATIA programs, is renowned for providing a thorough and complex support system. You can download all the necessary documentation directly from their web site, or you can access their vast Knowledge Base, where most of your questions can be answered and issues resolved.

Both Solidworks and Catia also come with large user communities – some of them are managed directly by the brands, others are independent. Dassault Systèmes also runs a hotline for all specific questions and inquiries.

If you need professional technical support (whether cloud-based or on-site), your products must be certified and eligible for the desired type of support. During the “Full Support Phase”, there are two available levels of Support Services:

  • SECURE: Basic support which enables a customer to report defects and malfunctions
  • ADVANTAGE: Advanced support available only for certain products and plans

On top of that, you can also buy various optional Support Services.

Of course, CATIA as a more sophisticated and expensive software comes with more support options than its mid-range counterpart.

Pros and Cons

Solidworks

Pros

  • It’s easy to navigate and suitable for beginners
  • It allows collaboration to multiple users (mostly reviewing and viewing)
  • Mid-range product with affordable prices
  • Great for solid modeling projects related to mechanics and machinery
  • Good rendering skills
  • You can request a demo or trial version

Cons

  • It’s good for 3D modeling but lacks many other features
  • It has limited support
  • It works only with Windows
  • No role-based differentiation

CATIA

Pros

  • Robust program with complex features and tons of modules
  • Compatible with Windows and Unix
  • Comes with extensive support
  • Can be used for complex projects in many different fields
  • Integrated Modelica libraries
  • New updates and upgrades are published frequently

Cons

  • Expensive high-end program
  • No trial version available (only demo on request)
  • Probably too complex for a beginner

Are there any alternatives?

Inventor

inventor

Inventor is a computer-aided design application by Autodesk that was created specifically for 3D modeling. However, it also allows 2D and 3D integration in a common environment, which enables you to create complex models and very accurate simulations in many different situations and projects.

Inventor includes direct edit, freeform and parametric modeling tools and uses Autodesk’s proprietary modeling kernel ShapeManager. Although Inventor could hardly compete with CATIA’s complexity and sophistication, it’s a very competitive alternative to Solidworks. You can learn more about Inventor software in our Autocad vs Inventor comparison here.

Creo Parametric

Creo Parametric is a powerful and flexible 3D modeling software that blends popular features from many other programs, aiming to provide its users with complex experience. Creo is capable of parametric, direct, and assembly modeling, catering to many different fields and tasks.

PTC, Creo’s creator, claims that this is the only modeling software you will ever need – a bold statement, which is supported mainly by Creo’s great compatibility with many other tools and its numerous built-in integrations. This enables seamless collaboration among team members who use various different programs and tools. Creo’s license for 1 year starts at $2,390.

FAQs About Solidworks and CATIA

Can I run any of these programs on Mac?

Solidworks and CATIA are both designed mainly for Windows computers (CATIA also runs with Unix). If you want to use CATIA and Solidworks on a Mac computer, you have to install a parallel Windows OS on your Mac first. As a result, you might be able to use these programs on your Mac with some possible limitations.

Is there a trial version for CATIA or Solidworks?

Solidworks can be tried for free thanks to its demo and trial versions. You can experience the program for free even without the necessity to download and install anything. CATIA comes only with a limited demo version, which is available on request.

Which notable companies use CATIA software?

CATIA is a preferred CAD software in many automotive companies including Škoda, Renault, Volvo, BMW, Fiat, Scania, Tesla Motors, and Porsche. Additionally, CATIA is also used at SpaceX and Boeing.

Where can I get some training if I am a total beginner?

Dassault Systèmes, the producer of all CATIA and Solidworks products, offers various onsite and e-learning training programs that can help you master your 3D modeling skills. You can also become a member of dedicated user communities, where users share their knowledge and help each other overcome various obstacles.

How expensive are these 3D modeling programs?

If you’re a student and need just some of the basic modeling features, you can have the CATIA tool for just $99 per year or Solidworks for $150. Premium version of CATIA that includes all advanced modules can cost you tens of thousands per year for the license plus additional maintenance fees. Solidworks is cheaper, starting at $3995 + $1295 fees annually and offering its Premium version for $7995 + $1995 per year.

Conclusion: CATIA vs Solidworks Tool

Solidworks is a great 3D modeling software that works neatly in many different kinds of assignments. Its strength lies mainly in the 3D modeling itself, and it’s also a good starting point for those, who are new to the computer-aided design software.

But if you can afford to invest in CATIA, we believe you really should. The complexity of this software will allow you to experiment, grow, and broaden your horizons with each new project. Whether its construction, product design, and styling, or systems engineering, the CATIA 3D design CAD program is an all-arounder, that will give you unlimited possibilities.

Thanks to the massive support and various training programs that come with this product, you don’t really need to worry about learning how to work with this comprehensive software. With advanced features for collaboration, CATIA is also great for larger teams.

Of course, we understand that CATIA’s price might be quite discouraging, especially if your project lacks the commercial potential that would outweigh the initial investment. In its class, Solidworks still remains a great option with thousands of satisfied professional users around the world.

Further Reading on CAD Software, 3D Model Tools, and 3D Design:

Simplify3d vs Slic3r [2020] Which Suits Your Needs?

There are three main components that you need for 3D printing: the filaments, the 3D printer, and the slicing software.

There are several slicing programs available right now, but two of the most popular are Slic3r and Simplify3D.

Main Differences Between Simplify3D vs Slic3r

The Main Differences Between Simplify3D vs Slic3r are:

  • Simplify3D is ideal for beginners, whereas Slic3r is geared towards professional and advanced users
  • Simplify3D’s upgrades are few and far between, whereas Slic3r is constantly being upgraded
  • Simplify3D costs $150, whereas Slic3r is free
  • Simplify3D is not compatible with Linux machines, whereas Slic3r is

Now let’s delve deeper into the differences between Slic3r and Simplify3D.

Slic3r Overview

Slic3r is an open-source slicing software that is very popular with 3D printing enthusiasts. It may be free, but it has some of the most useful and powerful features available today.

Like all slicing programs, Slic3r whittles down your models to different layers and then translates these layers to a set of instructions called G-code. Your 3D printer will then receive these instructions and accurate print what you want.

Slic3r Software

Interfaces

Slic3r has three different user interfaces. There’s the desktop app, the command-line tool, and the libslic3r. Each one of these interfaces has its own functions and features.

Slic3r Desktop App

The desktop app allows you to turn your models into g-code and gives you a preview of the toolpaths. It also allows you to easily configure everything, plus get personalized g-codes with conditional logic.

The app also allows you to print on several machines at the same time, or send commands to OctoPrint. With the use of modifiers, you can get customized regions with their own set of settings.

What you’d like about Slic3r’s interfaces is that it’s very minimalist with no unnecessary frills. You see the most important settings, configurations, and features all on one screen.

  • Command Line Tool

The command-line tool is one of Slic3r’s strongest plus points. The entire program is fully usable through the command line and it gives the ability to do almost all the things that Slic3r can do, so it’s easier to do batch and custom operations.

For instance, you can generate g-code in batches, export SVG slices. You can also use the command-line tool to convert between several file formats, and manipulate your 3D models.

  • Libslic3r

If you want to create customized applications that work with Slic3r, you will appreciate the libslic3r. This C++ library helps you handle 3D models from opening them, to repairing, transforming, and then converting to another format. You can even create G-code in different formats and generate infill patterns.

Libslic3r

Slic3r Features That You Should Know

Slic3r is compatible with a wide range of 3D printers, including Reprap, Lulzbot, Ultimaker, Makergear, Makerbot, and some DLP printers.

With Slic3r, you can easily customize settings from your objects. The print settings help you customize the layers and parameters, set adaptive slicing, and even use a skirt and brims with your project.

Meanwhile, it can also control the filament settings, including the cooling and temperatures necessary for each type of printing you’re going to do. It also allows you to control the retraction speed and length, as well as several other parameters.

The printer settings will allow you to control the extruders and even setup connectivity options.

What You’d Like About Slic3r

Slic3r has a wide range of features and functionalities that you will find necessary when 3D printing. It has a no-frills user interface that helps you focus on the more important features and settings. What’s more, they have tooltips or quick help that gives you tips on what each parameter or value does, and how you can configure it.

Compared to others, Slic3r creates G-codes at a much faster rate. You don’t have to wait for hours for even the most detailed models you have. What’s more, this program can read a wide variety of formats, including STL, OBJ, or AMF. It can then output it in SVG or G-code files.

There is also no need to install this program. You just download and run it, and that’s it. You can use it on any computer running on Linux, Windows, or macOS X.

Lastly, the biggest draw for Slic3r is that it’s open-source, plus there is a very committed community behind it. This means that it quickly and continuously improves.

Slic3r Manual

Other advantages

What other features are there?

  • You can generate a base flange for your 3D printing projects, which makes it adhere to the build plate more securely. You can also easily remove the base flange after you’re done printing.
  • The program allows you to work with several objects with its plating features. But you can opt to print one object at a time.
  • Slic3r can also control fan and print speeds that will guarantee that every layer cools down before the next layer is printed on it.
  • If you’re using multiple filaments and machines, you can manage all of these using Slic3r.

What Can Be better

Slic3r doesn’t have presets for even the most popular filaments or printers. Having these presets should make it easier for you to tweak the settings for these devices or materials.

Simplify3D Overview

Simplify3D is another slicing program that translates your model into instructions for your 3D printer. The company promises that you will get better prints using their software because your 3D printers get better instructions.

This program works with a wide range of 3D printers, so there is a good chance you can benefit. If you’re not sure, you can check your 3D printer’s compatibility here.

This wide range of compatibility will also help you if you have two or more 3D printers. You no longer have to learn different slicing software or switch from one program to another. You can just use Simplify3D for all your machines.

simplify3d

Simplify3D Features

With Simplify3D, you can:

  • Simulate your prints in advance so that you can see what your 3D printer will be doing without wasting filaments. You can see how each layer is printed, so you’d have an idea if there is going to be something wrong with your print. The pre-printing simulation will include settings, sequences, and exact speeds. You don’t only avoid failed prints, but you also save time.
  • Create better support structures that help to get the surface quality your print needs for complex designs. You don’t have to worry because these support structures are easy to remove once you’re done. The best thing about this is that you don’t have to worry about where to put these support structures: Simplify3D will these support structures should be located. You can also customize the positioning, add more supports, and remove those that you think will be useless.

What You’d Like About Simplify3D

Simplify3D has several resources that you can use to improve your 3D printing or get ideas. For instance, it has a blog that includes learning resources, design ideas, and others. Thye also has a community-led forum and official tech support.

You will also love how easy it is to install, to use, and set everything up. Not only do they have customer support, but they also have visual guides that can help you. This is a fast and reliable software that has powerful features. It also has an excellent visualization that can help you see how your printer will print out your design so that you can adjust and correct any issues before printing.

What’s more, you can download profiles for more than 100 3D printers. If you’re using a printer without a readily available profile, you can just add your own easily.

Overall, this slicer software helps you get top-quality and accurate 3D prints. And even with all the features and tweaks that you can do, the program is intuitive and easy to figure out. They also have excellent support and documentation and customizable supports.

slic3r vs simplify3d

What Can Be Better

While this software does a lot of things and does it exceptionally well, it is not free. You can buy it for $149. Similar programs are distributed free. Other programs are paid, but not as expensive as Slic3r. For instance, SelfCAD is available for around $10 per month while KISSicer can be used for free or with a $35 payment.

Comparing the Simplify3D and Splic3r

Simplify3D is an excellent slicing program that can be used by total beginners right through advanced and professional users. Slic3r is pretty much a tool for advanced and professional users.

Slic3r has a steep learning curve and it may be a bit confusing to figure out, but ultimately it’s a free program with a vibrant community. Simplify3D requires you to pay $150 to use the software.

There is also about the issue of upgrades. While Splic3r gets fast, continuous, and free upgrades, Simplify3D doesn’t. For a time, the upgrades for Simplify3D were too slow in coming, or too insignificant.

Version 5.0 was also planned for 2019. It didn’t come to pass, plus the planned upgrade was supposedly a paid one. Slic3r, on the other hand, started off with faster upgrade releases and tapered off. Nevertheless, the people behind this program has been updating almost daily.

Lastly, if you are using a Linux machine, Simplify3D won’t work for you as it’s only for use with Mac or Windows PCs. Slic3r, on the other hand, works with Linux, Windows, and Mac.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the questions we get about Slicer programs are here.

1. What Is G-Code?

According to this page, G-code is a programming language that everyone involved in computer numerical control machining. In short, g-code is the language you use in computer-aided manufacturing, including 3D printing. It’s how you tell a 3D printer how to do what you want.

There are many variants of g-code, which would explain why it has several file extensions such as:

  • .gcode
  • .mpt
  • .mpf
  • .nc

G-code is written uniquely depending on the machine it’s used for. For instance, Ultimaker Original uses RepRap, while Ultimaker 2 uses UltiGCode and Ultimaker 3 uses Griffin.

This video will introduce you to the basics of G-code.

what is g-code

2. What is a slicing program?

A slicing program is one that cuts your 3D models into slices or layers. When each layer is done, the program will then interpret it in G-code.

As you know, G-code is a set of instructions that tells your 3D printer what to do, where to position the tool head and make sure that your prints follow the settings.

3. What should you look for in a 3D slicer software?

There are several variables that you should consider when looking for a slicer program:

  • Standard Triangle Language import speed: Helps you save time when doing complicated models on a slow computer
  • Viewer: Your chosen program should display your printable file and you should be able to zoom or turn the image in any which way you want.
  • STL repair: The slicer program should be able to tell you that there are errors in your model
  • Easy to use: Make sure that your slicer program is very intuitive and easy to use.
  • Preview: Make sure that your 3D slicer software will be able to tell you how long it would take to print your 3D models, as well as the materials used.
  • Support: You should be able to get onscreen help, as well as rely on the community for some assistance and answers to your questions.

Splic3r vs Simplify3D: Which One Should You Use?

There are advantages to both the Splic3r and Simplify3D. They are both capable and very powerful slicing programs. However, that’s just the problem: it would seem that as far as features and functionalities are concerned, they both deliver. Simplify3D, however, does offer slightly more features and functionalities that other programs do not, including Splic3r.

But you pay $150 for Simplify3D while you get Splic3r for free. Plus, Splic3r is continuously updated with new features and bug fixes. That is something that you don’t get with Simplify3D.

Also, the truth with slicer programs is that they’re only as good as the amount of time you put into fine-tuning it. For instance, if you have been using Splic3r for a year and you switch to Simplify3D, then your prints will probably go back to a lot of failures and look pretty bad. That being said, it’s better to go for a free program and improve on it, than buy one and do the same.

The only downsides to Splic3r are that it doesn’t have custom supports, and it doesn’t give you a preview on the duration and materials used in your print.

The bottom line is that Simplify3D is a good program that has an outstanding set of features and equally helpful documentation. It would have been a whole lot better if it were free, or at least cheaper than the current $150 price tag it has. On the other hand, Slic3r might be free but it also has leading-edge features that you cannot find elsewhere.

Other CAD Options for 3D Printing

Cura vs Slic3r [2020] Which Slicing Program Is The Best For You?

Slicing programs are very important when you are into 3D printing. You should choose two things very carefully: your 3D printer and the slicing program that you use. There are several options when it comes to slicers, and each one has its charms and pitfalls.

Two of the most talked-about slicers out there are the Ultimaker Cura and Slic3r for 3D printer use. These open-source programs both have a solid community behind them. They also offer an excellent set of features that you wouldn’t expect a free program to offer.

Which one is better for you?

Main Differences Between Ultimaker Cura vs Slic3r

The Main Differences Between Ultimaker Cura vs Slic3r are:

  • Ultimaker Cura has two layouts recommended for beginners and custom for more advanced users, whereas Slic3r uses categories and sub-categories to organize its settings.
  • Ultimaker Cura allows for easy positioning and rotation for your models, whereas Slic3r’s movement icons are quite difficult to master.
  • Ultimaker Cura gives you a lot of model information, whereas Slic3r only tells you the length of the filament used.
  • Ultimaker Cura allows you to remove supports where they are not needed, whereas Slic3r has yet to include this feature.
  • Ultimaker Cura has hundreds of printer settings profiles ready for use, whereas Slic3r will require you to source your printer’s profile and import them into the system. Either that or you input them manually.

Ultimaker Cura: Everything You Need to Know

Originally developed by David Braam, Cura had its start as open-source software. It was maintained by Ultimaker and its users. Ultimaker eventually hired Braam. According to a 2019 Manufactur3D report, Cura has half a million unique users every month. The software assists more than 1.4 million prints a week.

Knowing that Cura is a pet project of one 3D printer brand, you might be concerned that your 3D printer might not be compatible with the software. Put those fears to rest because Cura works with several other brands.

ultimaker cura

How Does Ultimaker Cura Work?

Ultimaker Cura slices your models into layers (layer height) and then creates a list of instructions called g-code. The g-codes are printer specific and can immediately be sent to your 3D printer for manufacturing the prints. What’s more, these profiles are tested by experts, so you can be sure that you have the right settings without worrying about it too much.

Cura works with some of the most commonly used 3D formats:

  • STL
  • X3D
  • OBJ
  • 3MF

It can also work with image files such as JPG, PNG, GIF, and BMP.

Ultimaker Cura: Features

With Cura, you are using a very powerful and features-packed slicing engine.

  • Easy to use. Cura promises that you can prepare your prints with just a few clicks. You can choose one of the recommended profiles, but you can also go into custom mode if you want a high level of control over your prints.
  • Easier workflow. You can integrate it with your CAD software, such as Siemens NX, SolidWorks, or Autodesk Inventor​.
  • Plugins now allowed. Cura now accepts plugins that you can use to enhance your 3D printing experience. These plugins are duly rated by the community.

The thing with Cura is that it’s constantly evolving and new features and functionalities come out every so often.

ultimaker cura features

What You Would Like About Ultimaker Cura

Cura works with almost all 3D printers out there, with ready to use profiles. But what makes it better is the fact that you can tweak every parameter such as the perimeters, density, padding, supports, layer height, and others, before printing.

You can also change the g-codes even in the middle of printing. Plus, it’s free to use.

Ultimaker Cura: What Can Be Improved

Ultimaker Cura can be quite a memory hog. It requires four gigabytes of RAM. Even then, there are reports that the program can take its time when loading large files. Further, it can crash and stop working in some instances.

Plus there are some parameters that require some trial and error because Cura doesn’t really explain how you should modify them.

Further, there are complaints that the printing time estimates are inaccurate, sometimes missing the mark by 10 to 20 percent.

Ultimaker Cura: The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a slicing program that allows you to work with a wide range of file formats, and even repairing your models when necessary, then you should really look at Cura.

More than that, it gives you pre-tested profiles for beginners while giving you the freedom to tweak the parameters so you can control just about everything. It also supports plugins, making the printing process more customized for your needs. Lastly, it’s free and allows you to do some dual printing.

What You Need to Know About Slic3r

Slic3r is yet another open-source slicer program that transforms the layers of your model into a g-code. You can use the desktop app to do this, with a visual preview of the tool paths.

Slic3r gives you a great degree of control will the advanced configuration management and the custom g-code with conditional logic. You can even print on multiple machines and print bed setups all at the same time.

There is also the command-line tool that allows you to generate g-code in batch mode and export SVG slices. You can use this tool to cut, repair, and transform the models you want to print and even convert one file format to another.

But the biggest plus factor for Slic3r is the libslic3r. This library helps you create custom applications that will allow you to handle and manipulate 3D models, such as repairing and transforming them.

These applications will also allow you to slice vector data, generate g-code in a variety of formats, create infill patterns, get estimates on the printing time, and even add connectivity options such as being able to send g-code over a serial port.

Slic3r Software

Slic3r Features

Slic3r is compatible with a wide range of 3D printers including those from Makerbot, Ultimaker, TAZ, MakerGear, Mach 3, and Rostock. It can read STL, OBJ, and AMF files, and can give you g-code and SVG output files.

Slic3r is an open-source program that has no dependencies. You can run it on macOS X, Linux, and Windows. You only have to download it and run it. You can use Slic3r to print with multiple extruders, that way you can have one extruder printing the main object, another doing the supports, and yet another doing the infill.

Other features you can expect from Slic3r include:

  • Using brim for better adhesion, which uses a base flange around your printed object. You can just remove the flange later on.
  • Micro layering that helps you save time and improve accuracy
  • Built-in plating interface where you can place objects via drag-and-drop, and then scale or rotate them as necessary
  • Automatic creation of supports
  • Cools down your 3D printer by regulating your fan speed and print speed. This guarantees that the preceeding first layer cools down enough before the next layer height is put on it

What You Would Like About Slic3r

If you are new to the world of 3D printing, there is something to be said about Slic3r’s efforts to make everything easy and simple. They have an online manual that you can consult if you have any problems from downloading to making your first 3D print, to getting the configurations down.

Beginners will appreciate the software’s beginner model with fewer options to think about. Meanwhile, advanced users will also love the level of control they have.

Slic3r works fast, even if you have a slightly older and slower computer. What’s more, the program will only re-calculate the affected areas when you change a setting. For free software, it has a lot of features and functionalities that you will love.

Slic3r Manual

What Can Be Better

Slic3r doesn’t have estimates for both materials used and print time. Further, because of the overload of features, it’s going to be easy for newbies to get lost and overwhelmed using this program.

The Bottom Line on Slic3r

Slic3r is an excellent and free slicing program that has advanced features for everyone to enjoy. It makes preparing your model a whole lot easier and makes printing faster. What’s more, it’s supported by a vibrant and helpful community that makes upgrades a whole lot faster with very few headaches involved.

The Slicing Program Showdown: Comparing Slic3r and Ultimaker Cura

So you’re probably wondering which slicing program is the best for your needs. Both Slic3r and Cura have a ton of features that can help you get the most out of your 3D printing, with fewer headaches. What’s more, both are free.

If you’re having a difficult time deciding, here are the areas where you should focus.

1. Profiles

Ultimaker Cura is known for the wide assortment of profiles it has that makes it possible for you to get the best settings for every print. If there are profiles not available on Cura, the manufacturer can send their own profile settings and you can upload it to Cura.

Slic3r will require you to manually enter printer settings if you don’t have the profile on hand.

Because of this Cura is more ideal for those people who have numerous 3D printers from different manufacturers.

2. Information About Your Models

Getting information about the filament usage, material costs, and print time can help you keep track of your consumables, or assign costs to a client.

Cura gives you the print time, the filament used, the print cost and the time break down. All of this information can help you optimize the settings to reduce costs and print times.

Slic3r only gives you the filament used by length.

3. User Experience

Ease of use has always been Cura’s main selling point. With the ready-made profiles, it is very easy for even the greenest of beginners to use. That ease of use carries over to the interface: Cura makes a solid effort to be user-friendly and it guides first-time users, as well.

Cura has a beginner-friendly layout that you can choose. They also have the custom tab for more advanced users, allowing them to tweak a variety of settings.

What’s more, it’s easy to move and position a model in Cura print. When you select a part, the scale, rotation, and movement tabs are highlighted. You can move or rotate the model in 15-degree increments. Cura also allows you to remove supports where they are not needed.

On the other hand, Slic3r’s user interface presents the settings in tightly organized categories, and these categories are further broken down into different subheadings. With this layout, users are presented with settings in bite-sized and easy to understand chunks, rather than overwhelming them with the features and possibilities.

What’s more, moving and orientating your model with Slic3r can be a pain. The rotation icons need a bit of getting used to. Unlike Cura, you can rotate your model at any angle. There is no way for you to remove supports

Further, Cura can handle large files faster than Slic3r.

Frequently Asked Questions

ultimaker cura intent profile

To better help you decide on whether to go with Ultimaker Cura or Slic3r, we answer some of the most often asked questions about 3D printing and slicing programs.

1. What are slicers and why do you need them?

A slicing program turns your 3D model files and your preferences into G-code. In short, you will need a slicing program, or slicer, to create a set of commands that your 3D printer will use to print your objects.

G-code tells your 3D printer were to go along all the axes. G-code commands also include instructions for the servos, the leveling sensors, heaters, and other components.

An excellent slicer will help ensure that you get the best quality and good resolution for your 3D prints.

2. What are the things that you should consider when choosing a slicing program?

Some 3D printing experts are saying that you should really invest time in choosing a slicer software because the quality and accuracy of your prints will depend on these programs. In short, using the right slicer software will either make your 3D prints look great or ruin the look and quality of your prints.

But how exactly do you choose a slicing program? First off, you should choose how easy it is to use. There are several options out there and each one is geared towards different users. For instance, there are slicers that are best for beginners such as Cura, Craftware, and SelfCAD.

Some are good for intermediate users and enthusiasts, such as Repetier and KISSlicer. Expert users would like Slic3r or IceSL.

Another consideration will be the features and functionality offered. This criterion is tightly associated with how involved the community is. A vibrant community means that upgrades and new features are fast and continuous. What’s more, if there is a feature that you would like to have, you can always ask the community.

Aside from that, you will want to get a slicing program that already has the features you need. There is no sense in using a program and hope that the community or developer comes out with the features you want soon when another program already offers that functionality.

Other considerations that you should have include:

  • Price. There are open source and free programs that you can use and this doesn’t mean that it’s bad. In fact, some of the best slicing programs out there are free. However, there is an allure to using programs that you pay for. For one, there’s a good level of support for these programs.
  • Platforms. Some slicing programs work just about anywhere: on Windows PCs, Mac machines, or Linux devices. What’s more, they don’t have too many dependencies. Others work only for a specific platform.
  • Compatibility with your 3D printer. If you already have a 3D printer, it might help you save time if the slicing program you have has a settings profile for your printer. This way you get to avoid having to manually enter your printer’s details, which could take a long time.

3. Are there other slicer software out there?

When you are choosing between Cura and Slic3r, you might want to compare both to other slicing software out there. As we have hinted above, there are a lot. But which ones are worth considering?

  • OctoPrint is more than just a 3D slicer, it allows you to monitor your 3D printer from your smartphone or desktop computer. you can even use plugins and webcams to make the job better. The 3D slicer program it offers uses CuraEngine.
  • MatterControl is a one-stop-shop where you can do everything to print a model without using any other program.
  • Simplify 3D is an excellent slicer for professionals. It is compatible with just about any 3D printer and has ready profiles for each one. There are a lot of things that you can do with the program, including importing, scaling, and repairing your 3D models. Simplify 3D is very intuitive to use and you won’t get overwhelmed by the number of features and functionalities it offers.

Ultimaker Cura vs. Slic3r: Which One Should You Choose?

It is not an exaggeration to say that you can choose either Ultimaker Cura or Slic3r and still get the best slicing program available right now. These two represent the best out there and both are free. There is literally no reason why you shouldn’t pick either one. However, if you look at the nitty-gritty, you will find that Cura does some things better than Slic3r.

The biggest draw with Cura, however, is for beginners. Having ready-made settings profiles, a more intuitive user interface, and fast regular updates put it above Slic3r. In these areas, it’s easy to recommend Cura over Slic3r or every other slicing programs out there.

Turbocad vs Autocad Compared [2020]: Which one is better?

If you want to start creating designs for 3D models or drawings for various items, my Turbocad vs Autocad comparison will help you to choose which one is best.

These are two popular computer-aided design pieces of software but if you are stuck trying to figure out which one to use, I can help. I’m going to go over the different features of each product, how easy they are to use, and what support is available and show you which one is better.

First, let’s look at the main differences between Autocad and Turbocad.

Bottom Line Up Front Summary: While these are both capable software tools, I much prefer more capable and versatile Autocad solution here, particularly if you are past the hobby level. Turbocad is fine as a short term budget pick, but most of the world is moving towards Autocad (and for good reason). 

Main Differences Between Autocad vs Turbocad

The main differences between Autocad vs Turbocad are:

  • Autocad has a dedicated app for Android and iOS, whereas Turbocad does not.
  • Autocad has a steeper learning curve, whereas Turbocad is said to be easier to use.
  • Autocad offers a 30-day free trial, whereas Turbocad only offers a 15-day free trial.
  • Autocad requires you to renew your subscription every year, whereas Turbocad allows you to buy the product for a one-off fee.
  • Autocad offers a free subscription to students, whereas Turbocad does not.

Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

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Exploring Autocad and Turbocad features

auto cad

Autocad and Turbocad are both computer-aided design software so they have many overlapping features when it comes to drawing, workflow, flexibility, modifications, and also what platforms and computer systems you can use them on.

Drawing and design

Really the primary function of both of these programs to make more accurate and better drawings and designs. The days of doing all this manually with a pen and paper are long gone – you can even get 3D printing pens now! – so people use computer-aided design software.

Autocad provides an experience that is very much like drawing on a bit of paper except you are doing this on a computer. It allows for free form drawing and you have many methods to create accurate shapes, geometrics, and ultimately designs. For anyone that wants a great deal of freedom over what they produce with this type of software, Autocad is to the go-to program. It was mainly built for 2D drawings however it has evolved so that it now incorporates 3D shapes that can be used for printing and more.

Turbocad is very similar. It also allows the user to draw free form in 2D and has command lines as well as a dynamic input cursor. Turbocad also has 3D functionality and if you want photorealistic renders then Turbocad has the edge over Autocad on how they turn out. In terms of the main functionality of drawing and creating designs, it is similar to Autocad in what it can produce although the means to do it is a bit different.

Workflow

You may be working on these programs and a project by yourself especially if you own a 3d printer however in most cases, computer-aided design software is utilized by teams. This means the workflow through the process needs to be as seamless as possible.

One of the issues with Autocad is that each part of the design is separate. It isn’t all linked together and joined up as some other software. You create free form drawings with Autocad so the workflow can feel a bit disjointed and often doesn’t feel as if everything is linked together as you are working on separate layers.

Turbocad does offer good workflow options between drawing designs and fieldwork. Designs can be uploaded to TurboSite which is an iOS app and the designs can be used to put in the site and other fieldwork information. This is then sent back to the Turbocad program with the new data which is a pretty good feature.

Flexibility

autocad work

Both of these programs have a good degree of flexibility in their usage.

Autocad achieves this with its solid commands and use of surface mesh for 3D modeling that provides a good degree of freedom. The fact that you can customize the look of Autocad is great too because it means you can display the tools you use a lot and hide the ones you don’t. You can create a layout that is unique to you and what you use the program for.

Turbocad has a large amount of flexibility too and its mechanical design tools add to this. The program is used a lot for things like theatrical design as well as with furniture and woodworkers. Turbocad is ideal for a variety of sectors and like Autocad, it offers customizable options such as hiding tools and editing the layout of toolbars.

Modifications

turbocad

A drawing or design isn’t going to be right the first time so modifications and changes are the norms when using computer-aided design software.

The process of modifying designs in Autocad can be time-consuming and it isn’t the easiest. Each part of a design has to be modified individually rather than as a whole. They also don’t update automatically unlike other programs such as Solidworks across all the views so this has to be done manually.

Turbocad will automatically update views which can make the modifications process a bit easier. The use of the TurboSite iOS app is another great addition where field data can be entered which will be fed back to the main Turbocad system and updated with relevant information so that modifications can be made if necessary.

Platforms

Whether you predominantly use Windows computers or Macbooks, computer-aided design software should be available in both. This is especially important if you are working across different locations or on the move if you need to update models when you are out of the office.

Autocad is well known to work on both Windows and Mac computers. There is also a mobile app available for Autocad which can be used on iOS, Android, and Windows devices. If you need additional storage for using Autocad, you have the option of adding cloud storage onto your subscription as well.

The good news for anyone who is leaning towards Turbocad is that it is also available on both Windows and Mac devices so you have cross-platform support too. Turbocad has a variety of mobile apps including TuroSite for feeding back fieldwork, Turboreview for reviewing 2D and 3D CAD documents, DroneScout which is for collecting aerial data via DJI Phantom Series drones, amongst others. So, you can use a variety of different apps to complement the main Turbocad program. There isn’t an app as such for the Turbocad program but rather a series of apps to complement it.

Here you can check more information before making the final decision on whether to stick with AutoCAD or Solidworks for 3D printing and even compare Autocad with Revit as well.

Comparing Autocad and Turbocad pricing

Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

autocad 1

You will find free trial options with both these products as well as regular subscriptions.

Autocad costs $1690 to get access to the program for one year per user. You can also opt to take out a monthly license which is $210 per month or if you envisage using this in the longer term, there is a 3-year license available for $4565. You’ll get a variety of different tools which you subscription too which includes:

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

There is a 30-day free trial option for Autocad and if you are a student, you can get a one-year free license.

turbocad prices

Turbocad has a couple of pricing options to suit your needs. You can pay for it once and get a permanent license for $1499.99 which is cheaper than Autocad at first glance however you will need to pay for an upgrade when new versions are released (currently this costs $399).

The one-off price is for one user. They also offer a subscription cost of $499 per year per user and this includes upgrades to new software as well. There is a 15 day free trial with Turbocad as opposed to the 30-day free trial that Autocad offers.

Autocad v Turbocad ease of use

If you are interested in either Autocad or Turbocad then it is likely that you are working in modeling and ensign already or contemplating buying a 3D printer and experimenting. They aren’t a product that someone with just a passing interest is going to buy and start using as they have a bit of a learning curve. So, how easy are they to use?

Autocad can take a while to get the hang of and this is largely down to the separate processes that it uses. The whole program can appear very complex in the beginning however the fact that you are able to customize it as you go along with the Custom User Interface Editor means that when you get used to the software you can really make it your own. It doesn’t require years and years to get the main functionality nailed down but you won’t learn it in a few hours.

Turbocad is an easier program to learn and if you’re new to modeling and creating 2D or 3D designs, you’ll more than likely get to grips with this program before you’ll learn how to use Autocad to its full potential. The issue is that many people report hitting a ‘productivity ceiling’ with Turbocad.

This means that you’ll come to a point where you can’t carry out processes any quicker. Autocad has the advantage here because people who use it become much more familiar with the layout and become faster in doing tasks on the software.

What support is available for Autocad and Turbocad

turbocad app

The good thing about both these programs is that there is support on hand to help if you encounter any problems.

Autocad is run by Autodesk so you get access to their Learning Section which has tutorials, video guides and other information to commonly asked questions. If you can’t find an answer to your issue here, you can go to the forums that are frequented by experienced users. There is also the option of submitting a support ticket to Autodesk if you require more assistance.

Turbocad has its own Knowledge Base with guides and tutorials that can help you with the software. They also offer a Community Forum where you can ask other users about any issues you are having or you can submit a support ticket through their website Turbocad also have the option of phone support too which is a nice feature if you need to get an answer quickly.

Pros and Cons

Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Autocad

Pros

  • Has both 2D and 3D modeling functionality
  • Standard software used in the industry so plenty of knowledge from other professionals
  • You can customize its layout to increase productivity
  • Can work without internet access as it uses local and network files
  • Compatible with both Windows and Mac and has a mobile app
  • Cloud storage is available if you need additional space

Cons

  • Isn’t the easiest software to learn and will take a while to get the hang of
  • Doesn’t have a joined-up to the connected approach to its workflow
  • Manual update of modifications to designs

Turbocad

Pros

  • Easier to learn from out outset especially for new users
  • Can buy the product outright although you’ll need to pay for upgrades
  • Has 2D and 3D functionality with freeform drawing
  • Able to customize its layout to enhance productivity
  • Use of TurboSite app for fieldwork is a great addition
  • Get access to the suite of TurboApps for various functions
  • Is available on Windows and Mac

Cons

  • Can experience glitches with color rendering
  • Only has a 15-day free trial
  • Lacks dedicated Turbocad app

Are there any alternatives?

Solidworks

solidworks

This is a very good alternative to both Autocad and Turbocad. Solidworks has both 3D modeling and 2D drawing functionality so it matches Autocad and Turbocad in that regard. It is also similar to Turbocad in that it has a one-off payment option as well as a subscription model too.

Solidworks is only available on Windows operating systems which does hold it back a bit especially if you use Mac OS however it is popular computer-aided design software that has been around for a few decades now. Another popular option is Fusion 360, so here check the comparison in detail between Solidworks vs Fusion 360.

Inventor

invertor autocad

Inventor often doesn’t have the same recognized name as Autocad however it is closer to Turbocad in its makeup as it is a 3D modeling software as default whereas Autocad started out as 2D and incorporated 3D functionality.

Inventor is a bit more user friendly as well with its interface although it does come with a higher price tag for a year’s subscription. It has been around since 1999 and is also only available for Windows like Solidworks so it does lack cross-platform compatibility.

If you are interested in how Invertor compares with similar software, check the detailed comparison between Fusion 360 vs Invertor.

FAQs About Autocad and Turbocad

Can I use Autocad for free?

There is a free trial available for Autocad that lets you try out the product for 30 days. Students can get a one-year free license as well which is a pretty cool feature and Autocad offers monthly, yearly, or 3-yearly subscription models.

Can I use Turbocad for free?

Turbocad has a 15-day free trial available where you can try to product out. It offers a one-off payment to be able to use the software for life but that doesn’t include upgrades which will cost extra. There is also a subscription model available.

What operating systems can I use Autocad on?

Autocad is available on both Windows and Mac computers and there is also a mobile app that you can use as well.

What operating systems can I use Turbocad on?

Turbocad also has both Windows and Mac OS versions so it matches Autocad in that way. You’ll also get access to the Turbocads app suite which offers handy apps to complement the work that Turbocad does.

Are these programs customizable?

Yes. Autocad especially is very customizable with its Custom User Interface Editor where you can hide tools, change the layout, and more to make things easier for you. Turbocad also offers a custom experience to increase productivity.

Is it easy to use these programs?

Turbocad is considered to be an easier program out of the two. Both will take time and effort to get used to as they are complicated programs performing complex processes.

Can I use these programs for 3D printing?

Both Autocad and Turbocad can be used to create models for 3D printing and can be used with open-source printers too.

What support do Autocad and Turbocad offer?

Autocad has a Learning Section which offers a range of guides and tutorials while there is an online forum where you can ask questions to other users. There is also a support ticket system on their website. Turbocad has its own Knowledge Base, forum and you can contact them via phone.

Conclusion: Autocad or Turbocad?

Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Autocad is perhaps the most well-known computer-aided design software on the market. Even people who aren’t involved in drawing, modeling, and 3D printing know the brand name.

Both of these pieces of software are powerful and very good at what they do. Turbocad perhaps has the edge when it comes to 3D because that is its primary purpose whereas with Autocad it feels like a bit of an added extra given its main focus was 2D.

Neither of these products is going to be learned right away by someone who is completely new and they do have a learning curve and will take time and a lot of practice to get the hang of. The good news is that there is a wealth of information out there for both in the form guides, tutorials, and forums that can help.

It is quite hard to choose a winner between these two because they have many overlapping features.

I would go with Autocad if I really had to choose for a few reasons.

One is that it offers an industry-standard product that has been used for decades while it provides good cross-platform functionality in terms of its Windows, Mac, and mobile versions. That isn’t to say that Turbocad doesn’t offer Windows and Mac versions but that Autocad’s mobile app is very useful.

While certain things in Turbocad might be easier to learn it does have a ceiling in what you can do and in the long run you would probably be better taking more time to get equipped with Autocad.

Bottom Line Summary: While these are both capable software tools, I much prefer more capable and versatile Autocad solution here, particularly if you are past the hobby level. Turbocad is fine as a short term budget pick, but most of the world is moving towards Autocad (and for good reason). 

Further Reading on CAD Software for 3D Printing:

AutoCAD vs Solidworks [2020]: Which is The Best?

When you take the plunge into 3D printing, it’s easy to get caught up in the machinery. It’s the most obvious aspect of the whole process, and there are almost as many choices as there are possible projects – but, choosing your hardware is not the ultimate destination of your 3D printing journey.

That distinction goes to finding the perfect software for your needs. Your hardware is only as useful as your software lets it be, so make sure, first of all, to be honest about your own starting skill levels, time and patience to learn something new.

We’ve given you a comprehensive guide on how to navigate the hundreds of different options out there, so now we’re going to focus on the merits of the two most popular: AutoCAD and Solidworks.

These are both programs with legacies of excellence in drafting and 3D modeling with plenty of support, both official and amateur, so at first, it may seem like you can pick whichever one is on sale, or whichever one your favorite YouTube 3D printer uses, and it won’t matter in the end.

However, there are plenty of distinctions between AutoCAD software and Solidworks for 3D modelling that you need to consider before choosing.  It’s like the options of an Apple or Windows computer – they’ll both get you to the same place, but the ways they get you there are different, and you should know the individual steps of each so you can use your smoothest path.

One thing to keep in mind – both of these programs are designed for users who already have some computer-aided drafting and computer-aided design experience.

That isn’t to say you need an engineering degree to get what you want from them, but just keep in mind that a basic familiarity with drafting concepts (or the willingness to spend extra time Googling them) will help you orient yourself within these systems no matter which one you pick.

Bottom Line Up Front Summary: Solidworks is fine for JUST 3D drafting, however I would recommend upgrading to AutoCAD here if you planning to operate a serious business with both 2D and 3D crossover needs, or may need reliable support. Autodesk IS the market leader for CAD and as such updates their products more frequently (free upgrades) and generally pioneers new features. AutoCAD also “plays better” with the other Autodesk software suites. 

Main Difference Between Solidworks vs AutoCAD

These are the main differences between Solidworks vs AutoCAD:

  • AutoCAD is better for 2D drawings and non-parametric design, whereas Solidworks is best for 3D Design and parametric design
  • AutoCAD is generally less expensive compared to Solidworks
  • AutoCAD is more flexible for both 2D and 3D CAD, whereas Solidworks is better for dedicated 3D rendering
Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Let’s get into the tool details:

AutoCAD Tool

3d printing program autocad

AutoCAD Software Functionality Overview

AutoCAD is a computer-aided drafting software developed by AutoDesk in 1982. It came from a 1970s software called Interact CAD (computer aided design) and was the first drafting program developed for personal computers rather than the minicomputers that were common at the time.

It was an instant hit and revolutionized the drafting game with innovations such as the ability to work on multiple drawings at a time and object transparency. Since its introduction, it’s become the most-used software in the design world.

AutoCAD started as a way to model 2D geometry and evolved to include various 3D modeling options like solids, surfaces, and meshes. Many drafters still use it primarily for 2D drawings and 2D drafting (2D CAD), but its capabilities make it great for modeling your 3D printing projects.

You can turn your object in 3D space to look at it from any viewpoint, which makes it very useful for a full-object visualization functionality. AutoCAD also lets you attach notations to your drawings, attach and import data from PDFs, and extract object data to tables, so you can present your data and real-time analytics as separate from the shapes.

Most recent from AutoCAD

The latest version, AutoCAD 2020, was released in March of last year and supports 4k monitors, or ultra-high definition monitors that have four times the amount of pixels than traditional high-definition monitors. Translation – it looks great on computers that have the power you need for heavy-duty 3D modeling design work and CAD software applications.

The new edition also introduces an improved version of its DWG file format, a standardized binary file format used for drafting files across a host of different software, so if you’ve been using another program and are worried about losing your work, don’t be – it’ll translate perfectly over to AutoCAD. There are also plenty of ways to view DWG files without AutoCAD, and the software also supports Drawing Exchange File Formats, or DXF, which is the non-proprietary version of drafting files.

AutoCAD has grown into a group of programs customized by industry with different user interface tweaks. The AutoCAD Architecture, for example, has pre-loaded details  common to building product design like doors and windows; AutoCAD Electrical gives access to a library of commonly used electrical engineering symbols.

All AutoCAD variations have applications for 3D modeling, but if you’re specifically using it for 3D printing, you probably want to use AutoCAD Mechanical, which lets you create and modify mechanical designs, or AutoCAD MEP, which is the variation that lets you solid 3D model mechanical, electrical, and plumbing designs for construction in the CAD program.

Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

AutoCAD Pricing and Accessibility

A full license for AutoCAD will run you $195 per month, or $1,575 per year. The longer you subscribe, the less per month it will be, but your starting costs will go up exponentially, so unless you’re positive you’re going to use it on the regular for four years, don’t shell out the $4,252.50 that commitment will cost you.

If you’re a student or educator, you may be eligible for a free license. That doesn’t include access to all AutoCAD variations, but if you already know which one you’ll need to use, it’s definitely worth it, especially if you’re looking to start a multi-station 3D printing class.

Plus you’ll get access to AutoCAD’s cloud storage services, so you can share projects across whatever geographic differences you might have. Just remember it won’t be quite as robust per person as a full version, and you’re bound to using it only for educational purposes that aren’t for profit.

Your subscription gives you access to all the variants of AutoCAD we talked about above, so you can experiment across the different variations and figure out which one works best for your projects. This also gives you access to AutoCAD’s web and mobile apps so you can access your designs wherever you end up working.

AutoCAD is compatible with both Windows and Mac computers, and since your designs become standardized file types within the software, you’ll be able to share across all the operating systems you and/or your team prefer.

autocad 3d printing program pros and cons

Pros for 3D Printing

  • Full-grade professional software with massive amounts of options and features
  • Pioneering innovator in computer-aided drafting that’s been the industry standard since its beginning
  • Specific 3D printing command (3DPRINT) since 2015
  • Wide translation across file storing and sharing across other software
  • No subscription fee if you qualify for the education license
  • Mobile app and cloud storage and sharing for a wide variety of accessibility

Cons for 3D Printing

  • Originally developed for 2D design, which some say is still its strong point
  • Annual subscription fee of more than $1,000 if you want to use it for profit-making ventures
  • Requires a steep learning curve; best for those who are already familiar with drafting principles and want to add a 3D printing component or 3D part

SolidWorks Tool

solidworks 3d printing program

Functionality Overview

SolidWorks is a computer aided drafting software that was developed in 1995 by Jon Hischtick, founder of the SolidWorks Corporation. Dassault Systems acquired SolidWorks in 1997, and merged with its previous CAD system experience and user base. Its most recent iteration, SolidWorks 2018, was released in October 2017.

The name is a giveaway: it’s a software that models solid objects, and it does that based on engineering terms like bosses and holes rather than through geometric shapes like AutoCAD does. It also starting including simulation tools almost twenty years ago, so that users from 2001 forward have been able to test their designs in real-world situations before they actually commit to building anything.

CAD tools to simulate computational fluid dynamics, the ability to simulate fluid flow, heat transfer, and fluid forces, and life cycle assessment features let SolidWorks users see how their designs will preform under environmental pressures that they may find themselves under when they’re used for their intended purposes.

As a Solidworks user your subscription also includes a rendering process that lets its users see their objects in photorealistic finishes, project data management resources so you can make sure your drafts are as organized as you want them to be, and a SolidWorks electrical package so you can use it to add accurate schemas and circuit data while reducing the need for physical prototyping.

All of these features make it a favorite of engineers who depend on 3D modeling for their work. It’s used across a variety of industries like auto and aerospace engineering, construction, oil and gas, alternative energy, and robotics. Amtrak, BAE systems, and Daka are all both major users.

SolidWorks was developed in the opposite direction of AutoCAD; first created as a 3D modeling software (CAD software), it’s brought in 2D drawing components as well; your SolidWorks model will start as a 2D drawing as your first step. But its initial focus on 3D makes it a favorite of many 3D printers.

AutoCAD vs Solidworks: Price and Accessibility

One permanent license of SolidWorks Standard costs $3995, and you’ll pay an annual maintenance fee of $1,295. If you want to get the Professional version, it’s $7995 with a $1450 maintenance fee.

If you want to go all out, the Premium Package (CAD package) is a one-time fee of $7995 with an annual maintenance fee of $1995. The company does offer a student version for $150, but that is limited to one year’s use and puts an unremovable watermark on any work you create so you aren’t able to use it for commercial ventures.

Its 3DEXPERIENCE platform lets you share your designs and connects you with others as you want and need to for projects. It offers a marketplace where you can shop for designs from those who submitted them, and it all integrates into its PLM features for optimal project management.

One thing that may trip you up is SolidWorks’ incompatibility with Mac operating systems. You have to use it on Windows, so if you don’t have that hardware, you’ll need to find another program, and make sure all the people you want to collaborate know that as well before you choose for your whole team. However, it uses the standard drafting file extension of DWG (CAD files), so your designs will be readable across other drafting programs with no issues.

solidworks 3d printing pros and cons

Pros for 3D Printing

  • Parametric feature-based modeling makes designing (and your design process) in 3D intuitive as you don’t have to be a geometry genius to get the features you want
  • You only have to pay for a licensing fee once
  • Discount for student edition
  • Range of simulation options let you test your design before you print it
  • Built on the premise of 3D modeling
  • Includes sheet metal design tools
  • 3DEXPERIENCE cloud storage and sharing capabilities
  • Used across a wide variety of engineering industries so is a recognized standard
  • Integrated CAM
  • Standardized file formats makes it compatible with other CAD programs
  • Latest version allows for freehand sketching on mobile devices
  • Latest version integrates CAM and topology study tools

Cons for 3D Printing

  • Only compatible with Windows operating systems
  • Maintenance fee required per year, which is about the same price as one AutoCAD annual subscription, on top of one-time license fee
  • Reduced 2D capabilities

Final Verdict: Solidworks or AutoCAD?

Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

So there you have it – the ins and outs of the two most popular 3D modeling systems on the market. And don’t forget how much support these two programs have. Because their extensive history stretches back beyond 3D printing to the beginning of computer-aided drafting as a concept, there are massive treasure troves of tutorials for both.

Whether you’re a read the 500-page manual before you touch it kind of person, or more of a YouTube it as you go dilettante, the internet has you covered through both official and unofficial channels.

Reading user reviews on tech review websites is also a good way to find out how to use the program for specific needs that may not be covered in the getting-started material; you can find out where to go for your own projects if they vary from the examples used for instruction.

Although we always advocate reading the whole process before you get started to make sure you don’t run into any surprises mid-print, if you’re confident enough in your basic skills, you can find a lot of niche advice and modifications for the base systems for whatever you need it to do.

AutoCad and Solidworks software are both comprehensive programs that will encompass all of your basic to unusual 3D printing needs.

Bottom Line Summary: Solidworks is fine for JUST 3D drafting, however I would recommend upgrading to AutoCAD here if you planning to operate a serious business with both 2D and 3D crossover needs, or may need reliable support. Autodesk IS the market leader for CAD and as such updates their products more frequently (free upgrades) and generally pioneers new features. AutoCAD also “plays better” with the other Autodesk software suites. 

If you enjoyed this article you can check our guide on how to find the Best 3D Printing Cad Software.

Additional 3D Software Tools