CAD/CAM trial downloads?

I’m interested in learning - fiddling around with - CAD 3D programs on the home computer.

I didn’t want to just download any ole’ program. I noticed SolidWorks does not offer any trial versions … just some add on’s if a person already owns SolidWorks.

I also found “Inventor”, not sure who it is made by.

Is there a trial version of other software i should start with just for learning? School does not start for another 2-4 months and I’d like to gain some user knowledge before then just for the sake of learning.

If your class is going to use a particular program (you can call them to find which one) you should pick that one as they are so different that you might dis the teacher as this other program does that easier…:o

Tried SKETCH-UP? Its not the highest end CAD out there - but its FREE get you to the point of generating code for cnc work with a little effort. As its become sort of an open-source effort, it has a lot of free plugins too.
They have a pro version but I haven’t checked it out – yet.

I liked SolidWorks - and it gets better every year - but not cheaper. Rhino is my choice today - my buddy lets me use his machine when he’s away. All 3 are way ahead of AUTOCRAP/CAD - it started out in the 2D world and great for that but their migration to 3D seems a lot like a band-aid and not a restart. Inventor is a limb of the AutoCAD tree as I recall.

Just my Humble opinion - take it for what its worth. There is a Sketchup for dummies book I hear so get both and get going!
You’ll never use pencil and paper again!
Cheers Jim

A long time motorcycle friend also teaches CAD/CAM in a local high school and they use Mastercam.

Here is another free CAD program - looks good - limited to 60 parts - but that might be enough for most folks!

Also, Alibre Design is a free CAD program - a lot of cnc guys seem
to like it - and another option is from a web-mate in the UK:
BitMaps to Models, tutorials and FREE CNC Software small fee for his tutorials but the GMAX is free and pretty powerful!

Hope that doesn’t give you too many choices - you’ll want to get started soon - given the time you have to do the study. BTW once you get the “hang” of almost any CAD program - they all pretty much "act the same"with the exception of AutoCad - my experience.
Cheers -

Here are some more opinions:

+1 to Alibre.

I downloaded the free version and it was so simple to use, I ended up purchasing the expert edition a few weeks later. Their tech support is awesome too.

Have you seen Emachineshop? Good basic program to practice with, and you can even order stuff you design.

I d/l emachineshop to try it out. I don’t have any specific designs in mind now, but when i do i’ll try it out. After i learn it maybe i’ll download one or two of the others and try them.

Thank you guys

Obviously you’re not wanting to spend too much money on cad software. Just so you’re aware, the likes of Solidworks, Inventor, Catia, ProE, Cimatron, IDEAS are all in the $7,000.00 upwards (some very upwards) catagory and all far more powerfull than what you need if you want to design molds for composites. Alibre is a cheap alternative to Solidworks or Inventor. Rhino is very popular in the marine industry and allthough not a dedicated parametric solid modeling program is well regarded for its surface manipulation capability. Another thing about Rhino I like is that there is a lot of colaboration with outside companies to make plugin programs for Rhino. I’ve not tried other lower end programs so i cant say how well they compare with Rhino, but having said that Rhino’s pretty good as a surface modeler.

Shopping for CAM software, I tried every demo/free program I could find…

VisualMill makes a free wizard-based CAM program called FreeMill…it’s very simple, but also very limited in what it can do.

I wound up buying MeshCAM after testing it’s demo version for awhile…great piece of software, extremely easy to get going with, and for the price, it’s got a ton of flexibility, without having too many of the “never/seldom used” options. Their support is incredible, I’ve emailed back and forth with the creator several times, he’s constantly working on updates and new versions, and is constantly asking for feedback, sample files, etc.

Well worth it, IMO!

I have mainly used CATIA at work, but recently tried a new program called OnShape. It was started by the founder of Solidworks and has some pretty high level people involved from the CAD industry. It is online, all heavy computing done on their end, and even runs on mobile devices. First part I designed was done on my iPad and linked to a friend with a 3D printer who handed me the finished part at work the next day, pretty cool. They have a trial version and subscriptions for professional users, with lots of learning material on their website.

Try OnShape (, it was developed by the founder of Solidworks and runs online with all the computing done on their end. You can even design on an iPad and edit on your phone. I actually designed a part for my motorcycle entirely on my iPad and sent it to a 3D printer to confirm fit before machining the actual part.

Look up OnShape, it is a product of the founder of Solidworks. All the computing is done on their end and they even have an iOS version that is quite functional. Also lots of learning material on their website.

Website is here,
Their free account allows you to save up to 10 documents, if you reach this amount you can save them locally and import as needed.

Autodesk Fusion 360 is really good. Coming from a CATIA background and compare it to Fusion 360, it is amazing. CAM is included, FEA as well, different CAD native file formats can be converted to Fusion 360 files with no issues. E.g you can import a step file and change it on the fly.
Really affordable, or for free if you comply to the rules. On and offline usage, storage in the cloud.

Check it out here.

+1 Fusion 360, i have gone from solidworks to Fusion and enjoy it plus it is free for students