View Full Version : looking for some well featured cad software around 100

19-08-2013, 02:42 PM
So after trying a lot of cad programs like solidworks, Sketchup, Turbocad, Inventor, Autocad and some others

I've come to the conclusion that they're all horribly expensive and would take me at least a few decades of saving just to purchase them.

does anyone have any suggestions?

my budget is around 100 and maybe a bit more if it's really worth it.

it doesn't even have to be the most modern version.

but I'm also looking for software that has ok documentation and quite a following in case I need help or plugins.

it must also export to popular formats such as DXF and STL.


while I am a student, I plan on using this software to make hopefully some money in the future so It'd be unethical to get a student version or a naughty version :watermelon:

John S
19-08-2013, 03:33 PM
Hard one this because as soon as you mention STL you are into 3D cad and 3D and cheap can't go in the same sentence.

What used to be Alibre is now Geomagic and their PE [ Personal Edition ] Which is now called Cubify, is 175 plus VAT in the UK but if you contact Geomagic in the States they will sell you a copy for a lot less or at least the same in $$.

Ring them 001 800-691-1839 and explain about being a student as I know there is a student discount and I'm sure it can be upgraded later.

Best to talk to the US in person.

I have the Pro version and saved about 600 dealing with the States.

Robin Hewitt
19-08-2013, 05:11 PM
The industry standard is AutoCAD which costs an arm and 3 legs, (too much for an individual) But there is a cheap full featured clone with a freebie trial available. Search for ProgeCAD.
I also have Alibre Pro because that is very different being a sort of cheap version of SolidWorks. The cheap version of Alibre, or whatever it calls itself, is 32 bits so you don't get multi processor 64 bit speeds.
I find the problem with the AutoCAD approach to making an STL is that you specify the entities resolution when you draw it rather than when you export. Editing is not really an option, you have to start over. PITA

19-08-2013, 05:42 PM
I think I probably should of mentioned I'm after 3d software! :D

I think I may just have to buy the deluxe version of turbocad and hope it doesn't have any silly features missing like v16 does.

John S
19-08-2013, 05:53 PM

Just set fire to your money instead

19-08-2013, 06:29 PM
I have recently been trying Freecad (open source and still in beta), but it looks promising.

FreeCAD | Free Graphics software downloads at SourceForge.net (http://sourceforge.net/projects/free-cad/)

With a bit of help from the tutorials and a friend, had it up and running in less than a week.

20-08-2013, 01:00 AM
I spent about a week recently learning some of Freecad.
It is a very powerful program and i found it to be a steep learning curve.
It plainly says its not production ready and there will be bugs. I found quite a few which made using it very tiresome.
As i was only doing simple stuff i switched to Sketchup, which is great and a lot faster for the stuff i wanted.

Freecad has the potential to be very powerful and useful , hopefully it will mature soon.
I dont' have much experience with commercial 3d cad so couldn't say how it stacks up against the likes of Alibre & solidworks etc.
I'm certainly going to keep my eye on it.


20-08-2013, 01:41 AM
Draftsight is by far the nicest free CAD package I've used. It's by the same company that release SolidWorks. Never used SolidWorks, so can't comment on that but I hear it's the canine's wotsits...

20-08-2013, 01:48 AM
I agree for a 2D package, but the OP wanted 3d!
I use Draftsight for all my 2D work and my CNC work

12-11-2013, 09:37 PM
I use Inventor Fusion 2013 to convert solid model formats, it's no longer supported but the download link is still there on autodesk's website, 1st link in the last but one paragraph -

Autodesk Labs Inventor Fusion (http://labs.autodesk.com/technologies/fusion)

Lots of people seem to have managed cool stuff with it, and it's not 100 it's free,

- Nick

13-11-2013, 08:01 PM
Had a bored moment and tried this. I had it running quite quickly and drawing fairly complex shapes, extrusions, body subtractions and basic surfacing.
Yeh! As Nick says. It works for free and apparently also saves to all major formats.
I recon this would be pretty cute after a sustained learning curve.

13-11-2013, 10:37 PM
get on the autodesk website and download a full student version of inventor for free. its totally unrestricted, apart from having a small water mark if you decide to print drawings.

14-11-2013, 11:56 AM
If you like Sketchup, you can export to DXF and STL in the free version using my plugin:

DXF and STL export plugin (http://www.guitar-list.com/download-software/convert-sketchup-skp-files-dxf-or-stl)

PM me if you have any problems with it