[2019] Best CAD Software Program List for Beginners and Experts: Ultimate Guide

Published by Haseeb Shazad on

autocad cad software interface

Table of Contents (click to navigate)


This report presents the basic literature overview of various CAD software packages and programs which are used commercially and for academic purposes. Some cad programs are used for general purpose and by various industries. This report presents some of the basic features, market demand and interface of some of the CAD software packages which are being used in various fields of science and technology. Mainly CAD software packages like AutoCAD, SOLIDWORKS, Fusion 360, Solid Edge, CATIA and Pro E have been discussed.

1. Introduction

Computer Aided designing was initiated in the 1950s when Patrick James Hanratty developed PRONTO. After the invention of computer-aided designing, using software packages for designing became popular in almost all fields of science and technology. Today starting for CAD to manufacturing and inspection as well, all the processes are being done by pc operated software packages and the world is moving more towards automation.

1.1. CAD Software Programs

Following are some of the software packages used for computer-aided designing:

  1. AutoCAD
  3. CATIA
  4. Autodesk Inventor
  6. Fusion 360
  7. SketchUp
  8. Pro Engineer (Pro E)
  9. Solid Edge
  10. GASK CAD
  11. ANSYS
  12. Excel gear
  13. Cart3D

2. AutoCAD

2.1. Introduction

AutoCAD is basically a 3D computer-aided design software which is used for making 3 D drawings as well as 2 D sketches. This software is widely used in civil drawings, infrastructural planning and designing of mechanical components (Financesonline.com, 2019).

2.2. Features

2.2.1. 3D Visualization and Modeling

Using this feature of Auto CAD, we can create and selected different visual options. This feature is quite useful in various fields of science and technology.

2.2.2. Surface, Solid and Mesh Modeling

This feature is used for creating different surfaces, solid objects and different meshed models. These meshed models are used for various simulations in other softwares packages as well like ANSYS.

  • Section Planes
  • Visual Styles
  • 3D Navigation
  • Layout Viewports

Auto CAD has many other features as well (Jane, 2019).

2.3. The Interface of AutoCAD

The interface of AutoCAD is user-friendly to an extent. It contains quick panel, ribbon tab, view cube, command panel etc. as shown in figure 1.

autocad cad software interface

Figure 1: Interface of AutoCAD

2.4. Market Share

Auto CAD is broadly used commercially and academically for designing in various fields of science and technology. Ever since its development in December 1982, Its’ market value started increasing rapidly and at present, its market share is 56.00% and is increasing rapidly. Figure 2 shows the comparison between the top three software in the international market (Datanyze.com, 2019).

autocad software market share graph

Figure 2: Shows the comparison between the top three CAD software in terms of market value

2.5. Versions

Most widely used versions of Auto CAD are

  • AutoCAD P&ID
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D
  • AutoCAD Mechanical

Although AutoCAD has a vast used and high market share but it becomes difficult for some specific geometries (e.g. gasket) and also for 3D models for which some specialized specific software has been developed.


SOLIDWORKS is 3D modeling software published by Dassault Systèmes in 1995. It has become very popular in the market and got popularity. The publisher claimed that more than 2 million engineers are using this software in 165,000 companies. Before this software computer was used just as a computing machine but this software has made the computer an assistant of a mechanical engineer. This software is equipped with an artificial intelligence system.

3.1. Features

3.1.1 Modelling

3D modeling has become very easy with SOLIDWORKS. Most of the important geometries can be directly imported from the library of solid works and can be assembled as one part. Some parts cannot be modeled in traditional softwares packages (like AutoCAD) in an easy way so they can be easily modeled using solid works.

3.1.2 Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM)

SOLIDWORKS is very useful in computer-aided manufacturing or CAM. It has the following features:

  • Feature Recognition
  • Rules-Based Machining
  • Tolerance-Based Machining
  • High-Speed Machining
solidworks cam software operations

Figure 3: Shows SOLIDWORKS CAM operations

solidworks cam operations

Figure 4: SOLIDWORKS CAM operations

3.1.3 SOLIDWORKS Simulation

SOLIDWORKS is used for the following types of simulation:

solidworks cad software simulation

Figure 5: SOLIDWORKS simulation of the structural cantilever beam

solidworks cad software electrical simulation

Figure 6: SOLIDWORKS simulation of electrical components

solidworks cad software simulation parts and assemblies fea

Figure 7: Simulation for Parts and Assemblies (FEA)

3.1.4 SOLIDWORKS Motion Analysis

This feature is used for motion analysis.

3.2. Basic Interface

The interface of SOLIDWORKS is user-friendly. It contains the Feature Manager design tree, Command Manager, view cube, command panel etc. as shown in figure 8.

solidworks cad software interface

Figure 8:Basic interface of SOLIDWORKS

3.3. Market Share

SOLIDWORKS is broadly used commercially and academically for designing in various fields of science and technology. Ever since its development in November 1995, its’ market value started increasing rapidly and at present, its market share is 6.84% and is increasing rapidly. Figure 2 shows the comparison between the top three software packages in the international market (Datanyze.com, 2019).


CATIA has been published by Dassault Systèmes in 1977. Basically, CATIA is software for computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), Computer-aided modeling and computer-aided engineering. CATIA is also used for writing CNC programming codes. CATIA is also used for the stress analysis of various mechanical and structural parts. This software is also used for product lifecycle management.

4.1. Features

  • System engineering
  • Computer-aided manufacturing
  • Computer-aided modeling
  • Computer-aided engineering
  • Product lifecycle management
  • The automatic part feature recognition system
  • Stress analysis
  • Simulation
  • Motion analysis

4.2. Market Share

Presently twelve thousand, one hundred and thirty-seven companies are using Dassault CATIA. This constitutes a total of 3.83% market share (Idatalabs.com, 2019).

catia cam software marketshare

Figure 9: Market share of CATIA in different fields of Engineering

4.3. The Interface of CATIA

CATIA has following parts in its interface:

catia cam software interface

Figure 10: Interface of CATIA

5. Pro Engineer (Pro E)

Pro E has been published by Parametric Technology Corporation in 1987. It is also known as PTC Creo. Basically, Pro E is used for computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), Computer-aided modeling and computer-aided engineering.it is basically a PC designs framework for displaying different mechanical structures and for performing related manufacturing and design tasks.

5.1. Features

5.2. Pro E Modeling Process

pro e cad modeling software process

Figure 11: Pro E Modeling Process

5.3. Pro E Interface

The interface of Pro E is user-friendly. It contains the Feature Manager design tree, Command Manager, view cube, command panel etc. as shown in figure 12.

  1. Toolbars
  2. Design Tree
  3. Work Space
pro e cad software interface

Figure 12: The Basic interface of Pro E

6. Solid Edge

Solid Edge is 3D modeling software published Siemens PLM Software in 1995 (Developed Twig Interactive, 2019). Solid Edge could not attain much recognition and market worth due to its competitor solid works which were released in the same year. But still, some people prefer to use Solid edge.

6.1. Features

  • 3-D Designing
  • Simulation
  • Manufacturing
  • Data Management

6.2. Interface

The interface of Solid Edge consists of the following icons:

  • Pathfinder
  • Command bar
  • Live rules
  • Ribbon
  • The quick access toolbar
  • Graphics window
  • Prompt bar
solid edge cad software interface

Figure 13: Showing the interface of Solid Edge

7. SketchUp

This software was initially released in August 2000 as a 3D modeling pc software package. This software is used by mechanical engineers as well as architects in various fields of science and technology (Financesonline.com, 2019).

7.1. Features

Besides 3D modeling and sketching SketchUp has following interesting features as well:

  • lighting effects
  • textures
  • layer manager
  • animations

7.2. The Interface of SketchUp

The interface of SketchUp is shown in figure 14.

sketchup cad software interface

Figure 14: Interface of SketchUp

8. Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is basically used for computer-aided designing and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). Fusion 360 was released in 2013.It was published by Autodesk. It helps user to fabricate different parts. It is a competitor to SOLIDWORKS (All3DP, 2019).

8.1. Features

  • Parametric modelling
  • Freeform modelling
  • Direct modelling
  •  Generative Design
  •  Advanced Simulation
  •  Advanced Manufacturing

8.2. Basic Interface of Autodesk Fusion 360

  1. Application bar
  2. Profile and help
  3. Toolbar
  4. View Cube
  5. Browser
  6. Canvas/marking menu
  7. Timeline
  8. Navigation bar and display settings
autodesk fusion cad software interface

Figure 15: Showing the interface of Autodesk Fusion 360

9. Conclusion

After the above brief analysis of the interface, features, and market value of different CAD software packages it has been concluded that one CAD software is not suitable for each and every industrial application, rather each industrial process should either build its’ own algorithm to solve design related issues or use some specific software suitable just for them. Also, license price is another issue. CATIA is being used in the airplane and automobile industry because of its surfacing characteristics but its’ license is quite expensive. SOLIDWORKS is mostly used by various industries as its license is affordable and user friendly. Many softwares have been developed for specific applications like GASK CAD, which is a commercial software for designing gaskets. Similarly many other software packages have been developed for specific industrial applications.

10. References

  1. Datanyze.com. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.datanyze.com/market-share/cad#market-share-table[Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].
  2. Financesonline.com. (2019). Autodesk AutoCAD Reviews: Overview, Pricing and Features. [online] Available at: https://reviews.financesonline.com/p/autodesk-autocad/ [Accessed 2 Feb. 2019].
  3. Jane, l. (2019). Key Features Of AutoCAD. [online] Blogs.siliconindia.com. Available at: https://blogs.siliconindia.com/pdftodwgconverter/Technology/Key-Features-of-AutoCAD-bid-132v68Wf83933729.html [Accessed 2 Feb. 2019].
  4. Idatalabs.com. (2019). Dassault CATIA commands 3.83% market share in Computer-aided Design & Engineering. [online] Available at: https://idatalabs.com/tech/products/dassault-catia [Accessed 3 Feb. 2019].
  5. Developed Twig Interactive, L. (2019). Solid Edge | Siemens | 3D Design, Simulation, Manufacturing. [online] Solid Edge. Available at: https://solidedge.siemens.com/en/ [Accessed 5 Feb. 2019].
  6. Financesonline.com. (2019). Sketch-up Reviews: Overview, Pricing and Features. [online] Available at: https://reviews.financesonline.com/p/sketchup/ [Accessed 5 Feb. 2019].
  7. All3DP. (2019). Fusion 360 vs Inventor – CAD Software Compared | All3DP. [online] Available at: https://all3dp.com/2/fusion-360-vs-inventor-cad-software-compared-side-by-side/ [Accessed 6 Feb. 2019].

Haseeb Shazad

Haseeb Shahzad is an experienced Mechanical Engineer with a demonstrated history of working in Industry. He has good Skills in Research work, AutoCAD, Solidworks CATIA and other engineering software.