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  1. #1
    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
    Last edited by jcb121; 19-08-2013 at 04:40 PM.

  2. #2
    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.
    John S -

  3. #3
    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

  4. #4
    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.

  5. #5

    Just set fire to your money instead

  6. #6
    C_Bubba's Avatar
    Lives in LaGrange, GA USA, United States. Last Activity: 15 Hours Ago Has been a member for 6-7 years. Has a total post count of 77. Received thanks 11 times, giving thanks to others 1 times.
    I have recently been trying Freecad (open source and still in beta), but it looks promising.

    FreeCAD | Free Graphics software downloads at

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

    AKA Country Bubba
    (Older than Dirt)

  7. #7
    Greeny's Avatar
    Lives in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 13 Hours Ago Has been a member for 7-8 years. Has a total post count of 36. Received thanks 1 times, giving thanks to others 1 times.
    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.


  8. #8
    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...

  9. #9
    C_Bubba's Avatar
    Lives in LaGrange, GA USA, United States. Last Activity: 15 Hours Ago Has been a member for 6-7 years. Has a total post count of 77. Received thanks 11 times, giving thanks to others 1 times.
    I agree for a 2D package, but the OP wanted 3d!
    I use Draftsight for all my 2D work and my CNC work

    AKA Country Bubba
    (Older than Dirt)

  10. #10
    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

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

    - Nick
    Last edited by magicniner; 12-11-2013 at 09:37 PM.

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