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Old 04-14-2019, 12:07 AM   #1
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Default best CAD software to begin designing parts

So after years of dreams and missed opportunities , I've finally put a boot in my own ass and decided to design a few products. I have a fairly extensive gunsmithing and metal fabrication background, but I need some suggestions on affordable, easy(ish) software so I can make my ideas transfer into a production shop's software for CNC. Please feel free to school me and as always, thanks in advance!
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Old 04-14-2019, 08:32 AM   #2
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tag, also interested.
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Old 04-14-2019, 08:46 AM   #3
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Guys it’s probably solidworks. Pretty sure OHVet is an avid user. Watch some YouTube videos on the software, there should be some great tutorials. I’m not even sure what the price is for a user, but most CAD software is not inexpensive. NX and catia are also incredible but are very expensive. I’m sure other people can chime in.
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Old 04-14-2019, 09:23 AM   #4
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Fusion 360.

Its free. You're welcome.
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Old 04-14-2019, 09:50 AM   #5
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^Good suggestion^ It seems that AutoDesk finally realized why Dassualt Systemes was kicking their asses.

If your intent is to make drawings that are translatable to CNC machining then the Fusion 360 is the way to go - from what I hear in the industry and the ability to use it for "free". Many other full-tilt programmes are in the $5,000.00 - $7,000.00 range for a single seat.
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Old 04-14-2019, 09:54 AM   #6
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Can someone "loan" me the file for AR15 handguards?
I would like to try some carbon filled filament on a 3D printer.

Thank you
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Old 04-14-2019, 10:05 AM   #7
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Solidworks is what a few of my friends that are mechanical engineers use.
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Old 04-14-2019, 10:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Commiblockakspecialist View Post
Can someone "loan" me the file for AR15 handguards?
I would like to try some carbon filled filament on a 3D printer
I’ll take a look at my files today I know I have a couple handguard files
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Old 04-14-2019, 10:57 AM   #9
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A2 handguards
https://grabcad.com/library/m16-front-hand-guard
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Old 04-14-2019, 11:08 AM   #10
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I use solidworks at work. For non commercial work I believe inventor student can be used. If you get familiar with inventor it transfers pretty easy to solidworks. Solidworks is expensive but it is also the standard right now.
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Old 04-14-2019, 11:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by def90 View Post
Solidworks is what a few of my friends that are mechanical engineers use.
+1
All my mechanical engineer family members use this. It allows you to do different sorts of fancy analysis on your model.

If you dont want to pirate that or pony up the cash, freecad works well enough. There's a beretta 92 frame floating around the internet that was modeled in freecad. So it can definitely be used for real functional gun parts.

For less advanced models, I find openscad to be the fastest to make a model and tweak it without a ton of boilerplate and setup. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am and your part is done.
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Old 04-14-2019, 11:33 AM   #12
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I think SolidWorks is the best, but I learned a little Fusion 360 on my own and its great. Lots of good videos on YouTube from Autodesk and other independent content creators.
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Old 04-14-2019, 11:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weaponmark View Post
Fusion 360.

Its free. You're welcome.
I'm a SW guy but Fusion 360 is very capable and you cannot beat the price. Not everyone needs or can afford a current SW seat. I use both, depending on which shop I am at and what they are running. Easier file sharing.

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Old 04-14-2019, 01:14 PM   #14
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I used Solidworks for over 20 years, was easy to learn. I also used Pro Engineer, it did more but was more involved. Both are VERY expensive and I'm not sure you can even buy it if you're not a business or student. Fusion 360 is free, I just don't use it because there is no need for me to learn another program.
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Old 04-14-2019, 03:47 PM   #15
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I used Solidworks for over 20 years, was easy to learn. I also used Pro Engineer, it did more but was more involved. Both are VERY expensive and I'm not sure you can even buy it if you're not a business or student. Fusion 360 is free, I just don't use it because there is no need for me to learn another program.
I prefer ProE. I enjoyed using Creo but it doesnt seem to be used much anymore. And it did have a habit of crashing and killing my files.

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+1
All my mechanical engineer family members use this. It allows you to do different sorts of fancy analysis on your model.

If you dont want to pirate that or pony up the cash, freecad works well enough. There's a beretta 92 frame floating around the internet that was modeled in freecad. So it can definitely be used for real functional gun parts.

For less advanced models, I find openscad to be the fastest to make a model and tweak it without a ton of boilerplate and setup. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am and your part is done.
Ive found freecad to be surprisingly difficult to use. Not as bad as using illustrator, as some of my colleagues do, but very difficult.
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Old 04-14-2019, 08:37 PM   #16
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I use SolidWorks for my job. I really like it but as others have pointed out, it's not something one can afford just for hobby.

For free, Fusion 360 is awesome. I haven't used it much as I can't seem to pick it up as easily as SolidWorks.
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Old 04-15-2019, 08:05 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by OHVET View Post
I used Solidworks for over 20 years, was easy to learn. I also used Pro Engineer, it did more but was more involved. Both are VERY expensive and I'm not sure you can even buy it if you're not a business or student. Fusion 360 is free, I just don't use it because there is no need for me to learn another program.

Veterans can get Academics licensing for SolidWorks for $20 per year, all you need is your DD214

https://store.solidworks.com/veteran/default.php
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Old 04-15-2019, 08:08 PM   #18
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Veterans can get Academics licensing for SolidWorks for $20 per year, all you need is your DD214

https://store.solidworks.com/veteran/default.php
AWESOME!!! Thanks for the info and the link
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:46 AM   #19
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Veterans can get Academics licensing for SolidWorks for $20 per year, all you need is your DD214

https://store.solidworks.com/veteran/default.php
cool, thanks for posting this!
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:58 AM   #20
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My understanding is that Solid works still needs a CAM program to turn the drawing to CNC code. I think I was quoted $14,000 for the package deal for CAD/CAM

Fusion 360 is free until I think you make $100K. And the cost after is not that bad, like $400 a year or so with a discount for buying two years at a time. Comes with CAM, maybe not the best CAM but good enough for small shops. Cloud credits can be used if you need to run complex simulations.. My current PC can process the more basic simulations we use, so there is no cost for the simulation.
A thermal expansion simulation took like 15 minutes to process.. A stress simulator on a simple part only takes 30-40 seconds.. Processor and GPU both spike to nearly 100% and stay there until it is done, so if you are going to be doing a lot of simulations, a decent desktop with an SSD, decent GPU and processor will save you time.

Both programs suffer with huge highly constrained drawings.. And it does not bog down the PC or Ethernet, it's just the program itself that is limited in some way.. Like the program is running slow and nothing is above 5% on system display... Tried the same thing on both solidworks and fusion and had very similar results.
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:01 AM   #21
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My understanding is that Solid works still needs a CAM program to turn the drawing to CNC code. I think I was quoted $14,000 for the package deal for CAD/CAM
.
The latest version of SolidWorks actually includes a simple CAM addin. It's still crazy expensive though.

Fusion is going to be your best bet. For 2D, don't forget draftsight.
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:06 AM   #22
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By the way, the OP isn't looking to generate CAM. He just needs CAD that can be used (by someone else) for CAM.
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:57 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by csspecs View Post
My understanding is that Solid works still needs a CAM program to turn the drawing to CNC code. I think I was quoted $14,000 for the package deal for CAD/CAM

Fusion 360 is free until I think you make $100K. And the cost after is not that bad, like $400 a year or so with a discount for buying two years at a time. Comes with CAM, maybe not the best CAM but good enough for small shops. Cloud credits can be used if you need to run complex simulations.. My current PC can process the more basic simulations we use, so there is no cost for the simulation.
A thermal expansion simulation took like 15 minutes to process.. A stress simulator on a simple part only takes 30-40 seconds.. Processor and GPU both spike to nearly 100% and stay there until it is done, so if you are going to be doing a lot of simulations, a decent desktop with an SSD, decent GPU and processor will save you time.

Both programs suffer with huge highly constrained drawings.. And it does not bog down the PC or Ethernet, it's just the program itself that is limited in some way.. Like the program is running slow and nothing is above 5% on system display... Tried the same thing on both solidworks and fusion and had very similar results.
Sounds like a quote including the modeling. Once the model is made, the drawing needs to be made, then the file is saved as a DXF or STL which is used to make the CNC program such as G-code. G-code conversion software use to be free online, I downloaded it a long time ago, don't know if it is still available. Making the model is the hard part, everything else is software conversion to the format needed for the particular manufacturing method.
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:20 AM   #24
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Solidworks/Fusion360

Fusion is legit free for basic users, so thats cool.
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:02 PM   #25
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A lot depends on how simple (2-1/2-D) or complex (true 3D) one needs the renderings to be. I sub out 2-D and 2-1/2-D parts occasionally that are to be CNC milled or jetted and I merely make the "path" of the finished surfaces rather than a true tool path - the machine's offset macros can manage the tool path. Of course I accompany this with a true part drawing showing tolerances in case the offsets or the path need to be bumped.

For many things this is a simple 2-D drawing sent as .dxf that is converted to machine language. I of course must be mindful of the intersection of axes zero and keep the line and arc direction moving in a continual manner. It helps that I taught 3-axis and 4-axis programming for a few years until thirty (30) or so years ago. I know "things change" but axes are still axes and G code is still G code and M code is still M code. For such work regular AutoCAD or even the LT version will work and the drawings remain simple.

^But that is only sufficient for a 2-D or 2-1/2-D need^.

If one is going to machine parts requiring a true X/Z, Y/Z, X/Y/Z coordinated axes movement for contour, then one will need a CADD software capable of modelling such. This is where the expensive modelling versions of SolidWorks and AutoCAD come into play. Pick the one that is easiest to use.
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:31 PM   #26
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I'm a longtime user of Solidworks. Its better than Fusion 360 and is widely used in industry. I'm sure you could find a bootleg copy of Solidworks if you wanted. I'm definitely biased towards Solidworks because it is what I started on and use regularly. When I have used Fusion 360 I mostly find it annoying because I'm so used to Solidworks and it does a few things differently that are really clunky.

What Fusion 360 is better for is surface modeling and more "organic" geometry. However, that's not useful for the majority of people actually designing/manufacturing parts.

Catia is owned by the same company as Solidworks and has a higher learning curve but works better for large assemblies (by large I mean in the magnitude of 1000's of parts). NX is a bit clunkier in the modeling side but has really advanced FEA, CFD, and has Fibersim for composites.
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:38 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerrySexton View Post
The latest version of SolidWorks actually includes a simple CAM addin. It's still crazy expensive though.

Fusion is going to be your best bet. For 2D, don't forget draftsight.
Yeah well the quote was back in early 2014, so its a bit dated.
We tried about 20 different drawing software packs.

When we started we used Google sketchup as everything was being manually milled, so we would use the drawing to design the stages of milling and then take a stack of print outs that had coordinates on them to the mill and start cutting.

The M77 magazines where designed on Rhino, which was a common alternative to Solidworks back in 2014. Rhino really seemed to be geared more toward flowing shapes, more organic shapes than mechanical.

Fusion gives you something very close to solid works but for a fraction of the cost if you are a start up.. It is NOT free software, you do have to pay once you make over the threshold. Its $500 a year. Solidworks and fusion are very similar in look and feel, but the controls are all different. So people like ^ are correct that switching back and forth is really tough.. All the quick keys are different, the mouse and click functions are different.. So fusion guys say solidworks is clunking and solidworks guys say fusion is clunky.

Check out NYC CNC (he is in Ohio started in NYC, he makes gun stuff) on youtube and look up solidworks and fusion.. One of the videos he talks about switching and why he did it.. He also has a lot of videos on both softwares, most of the new stuff is Fusion.


I think the $10,000+ is better spent elsewhere.. But I highly recommend trying both, you can get a 30 day trial of either to take a test drive. The solidworks trial you can't output your files(as of 2014), the fusion trial is a full version
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Old 04-17-2019, 12:35 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerrySexton View Post
The latest version of SolidWorks actually includes a simple CAM addin. It's still crazy expensive though.

Fusion is going to be your best bet. For 2D, don't forget draftsight.
Draftsight quit being free for the latest version for Windows, 2019 and I think the 2018 version.

The 2017 version may keep working, I forget if the free license has to be updated.

It is still free for Linux, but is labeled as Beta.

It seems to work alright.

I use it in Linux.

https://www.3ds.com/products-service...d-draftsight//


Guide for beginners with no previous CAD experience

https://www.3ds.com/fileadmin/PRODUC...RTED-GUIDE.pdf


Guide for more advanced users

https://www.3ds.com/fileadmin/PRODUC...rted_Guide.pdf
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Old 04-17-2019, 01:30 AM   #29
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My Fusion360 just expired a couple weeks back. Re-registered again and its GTG, still free.

For another "SolidWorks like" option, there is SolidEdge.

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Old 04-17-2019, 02:16 AM   #30
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When I got my Applied drafting degree,the main programs we were taught on where AutoCAD Classic and Inventor.I dabbled in AutoCAD Plant 3d( chemical plants& such) a single drafter it was unwieldy and tedious.Thank you OP and all y'all. Looks like I need to learn some new software.
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