What is your designer/CAD of choice?

Good evening everyone, Looking to put together a list of the CAD programs you all use to create or modify STL files

Personally, I use Fusion 360, Google Sketchup (older standalone version) and Meshmixer.

What do you all use? Going to put together a list for everyone and pin it, See if I can include download links and the like for everyone to use.

1 Like

i use mainly onshape, as well as having a bit of experience on Fusion 360

Here is an ongoing list of CAD/Design software for anyone to use as a ref, Will update as others are added.

  1. Blender - https://www.blender.org/

  2. BricsCAD Shape - BricsCAD Shape - Free 3D Design & Modeling Software

  3. DesignSpark Mechanical - https://www.rs-online.com/designspark/mechanical-software

  4. FreeCAD - https://www.freecadweb.org/

  5. Fusion 360 - Fusion 360 | 3D CAD, CAM, CAE, & PCB Cloud-Based Software | Autodesk

  6. Meshmixer - https://www.meshmixer.com/

  7. Onshape Free - Onshape | Product Development Platform

  8. SelfCAD - https://www.selfcad.com/

  9. SketchUp Free - https://www.sketchup.com/plans-and-pricing#for-personal

  10. Tinkercad - https://www.tinkercad.com/

  11. Solidworks - https://my.solidworks.com/

  12. Plasticity - Releases · nkallen/plasticity · GitHub

  13. OpenSCAD - https://openscad.org/

  14. Rhino - https://www.rhino3d.com/

  15. Grasshopper - Rhino - Grasshopper - New in Rhino 6

  16. Matter Control - MatterControl - 3D Printing Software | MatterHackers

  17. AutoCad - https://web.autocad.com/login

  18. Catia - Shape the world we live in | CATIA – Dassault Systèmes

  19. 3D Slash - 3D Slash - a 3D piece of cake

  20. Solid Edge - SolidEdge

  21. Microsoft 3D Builder - 3D Builder - Official app in the Microsoft Store


I use F360. Partly because it’s popular with the Astromech Builders Club so there’s lots of things available in .f3d format, but it also was an interface I could actually understand. I’ve tried various “modeling” programs in the past, and they never really made sense to me, but F360 does.

Maker’s Muse having a lot of videos on it helped too - I was already watching his videos so the cognitive cost of seeking out and trying to understand a tutorial was a lot lower. Searching YouTube for a tutorial isn’t as straightforward as it sounds; there’s an effort and cost involved in figuring out how to understand what the video is telling you.

1 Like

@VagabondElf - I agree, Fusion really does make sense. It is definitely my preferred CAD program. I enjoy using it enough that I finally bought a license for it even though I still only use it for hobby purposes.

I have also started getting into Rhino a bit with the intention of learning Grasshopper. For work I use Cadwork but a few people in the office use Rhino for certain projects.

Blender is also on my list to learn in the hopefully near future.
So much to learn, so little time.

I use FreeCAD for all my current modelling. I have used OpenSCAD in the past, and occasionally for some small projects.
Maybe one day I’ll learn F360.

for fusion I worked through almost all of Lars videos online, He is an absolute master with fusion, I think training is his day job

Fusion and matter control for me.

FreeCAD and OpenSCAD for design.
Meshmixer for modification

I use Autocad 2022 because I have it. It’s a lot more powerful than needed but I find it works well for me and I’m used to building 3D shapes with it.

Hey Rusty, thanks for the response, cannot belive I missed that one…

Glad you found our corner of the internet, Pull up a chair and grab a drink, Hope to see you often

I added your suggestion to the list above, If I am missing any others, Keep posting I will keep adding.

If someone’s got a few extra dollars in there pocket - aerospace programs like NASA and SpaceX use programs like Catia

I use CATIA. I use it for my job so it is very familiar. It has all the features to create a 3D model. And convert it to .still.

1 Like

Sorry .stl

Good evening: I started out with autocad and eventually switched to Fusion 360. I have watched a lot of Lar’s videos and several others as well. When I want to find out how to do something my goto place is youtube.

1 Like

Autodesk Inventor. Everyone seems to default to Solidworks and forget about Inventor. great program.

SolidEdge is another good commercial CAD program and it is FREE to hobbyists. It is not neutered in anyway but uses a different file format, incompatible with the regular version so it can’t be used with commercial version of the program.

1 Like

HI @Loosenut Totally missed that one. Ive added it to the list. Trying to keep it as complete as possiable.

F360 has always been my goto,

When I was first starting out with CAD it was nice because the barrier to entry was low, there is the free tier of usage which strips away a couple of features, but nothing to serious. It also has the cloud saves so I could sync across devices, this made it very easy to model on my laptop while on the go and then pick back up on my PC when I got home.

Some of the new programs such as onshape look intriguing to me, but I have never quite been able to get the hang of them.

1 Like

Until the day that “you have to pay for it now”.

I have never understood the desire for cloud based software. The companies like it since they can control distribution better but if you are a company that is doing confidential design work having cloud based CAD is a major security risk and don’t listen to the “we don’t look into your files, they are encrypted and secure”. The guy encrypting it can undo it (or someone that works there that sneaks around stored files) and will look at it or sell it. Maybe not everyone but so many companies spy on us with their software it isn’t realistic to assume your CAD files are safe. This probably doesn’t apply to a hobby but could.

I appreciate that you are compiling a list of CAD programs for working with STL files.

Personally! I use Fusion 360 and Tinkercad.

1 Like