Which Cad program?

Hello all,

A (long) bit of background to my question: I’ve been saving for a good while and hope to order the 4XXL in the next several weeks. As i’ve been playing around with Carbide Create and researching other options, i’ve gotten a bit overwhelmed by the array of programs available - all being used by others with good success. I have some limited AutoCad background, and currently run a proprietary Cad/Cam program for a cnc plasma table on a regular basis. In both of those programs I rely somewhat heavily on keyboard inputs for initiating and controlling commands. I have found the more heavily mouse-based interface in CC to be frustrating for me. So (finally) my question: are there other programs available (hopefully at a lower price-point than Fusion 360) that are more keyboard based, or should I just stick with CC and get faster with my mouse?

I strongly recommend Fusion 360. Regarding price:

  • There’s a free version. It’s not as good as it used to be but it still works.
  • Lack of rapids, the biggest problem of the free version, can be resolved by using a plugin like this.
  • Fusion 360, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t actually that expensive. It’s currently $347/yr. If you value your time at say $20/hr, you’ll break even if Fusion 360 saves you ~17.5hrs of work in a year. In my experience it did that easily.

Which tool you use depends on what sort of work you wish to do, and how you wish to approach it.

If you find Carbide Create itself awkward, you can use pretty much any other program as a front-end — it just needs to write out DXF or SVG files, so pretty much any other vector drawing program will work — Inkscape and Serif Affinity Designer are the usual suspects and some folks use Adobe Illustrator.

If you wish to work programmatically, there’s OpenSCAD — I use it in conjunction w/ BlockSCAD, but you can just cut to the chase and directly type if you wish:

FreeCAD is popular for folks who want an opensource solution.

If you’d like a more traditional CAD solution we sell:

and as @Moded1952 the folks who are willing to pay monthly or live w/ the Damoclean threat of what will next be removed from the free version use Autodesk Fusion 360.


@Moded1952, that helps clear a bit of the fog. I can tend to miss the forest for the trees. And @WillAdams, thanks for the other program leads. I’ll check them out if i can find the time. I appreciate you spending the time to answer rather than just asking me to use my common sense. :grinning:

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