Computer-aided design (CAD) software is essential for architects, mechanical, electrical, and civil engineers, interior designers, landscape architects, industrial designers, piping designers, surveyors, and urban planners. Its primary role is to develop 3D designs for construction and renovation. These designs can be directly 3D printed or produced using traditional manufacturing tools.
Choosing 3D CAD software is essential when creating architectural or engineering designs. Good modeling software will serve you well, while bad software won’t offer you the desired results. With that in mind, here are the five key features you should look for when choosing 3D modeling software:
- Data Management And Multiple File Transfer Formats
A computer-aided software stores and manages data on your work progress, whether you’re working individually or as a team. Having wrong or overwritten data can be inconvenient, as it wastes time and money. To avoid this, find CAD software with an inbuilt robust data management system to manage your progress.
A good CAD also supports various file formats, such as .stl, .dng, .dwg, .dfx, and .stp. Perhaps you’re wondering what is a STP file. An STP file is a file format that transfers data and models in 3D, 2D, and geometric designs and is popularly used in computer-aided manufacturing and computer-aided design software. CAD software should allow you to transfer files quickly, share links, and store them on the cloud.
- Latest Features and Design Tools
A good CAD should have the latest simulation tools and features that aid engineers and architects in creating their designs. That way, you and your team can complete and create models quickly and with little effort. One of the features is to convert a 2D to a 3D design, which digitizes 2D drafts into 3D models.
Other popular features and tools among architects and engineers include 3D sketches, resolution tools, fillet tools, 3D shape generators, and deformation tools. An excellent 3D modeling software with the latest features reduces workload and generates a high-quality 3D design.
- User Friendliness
Besides focusing on the CAD software features, you should also check the software’s ease of use. Like any other software, the 3D CAD software should also be easy to use, whether you’re new to the software or not. It ensures that you and the team don’t waste time completing your projects.
Due to the advanced or complicated features, working with complex 3D modeling software may affect your and your team’s performance to work on projects. That’s why it’s crucial to choose CAD software that is easy to use, if not beginner-friendly.
- Provide Tutorials
Excellent CAD software should have comprehensive tutorials on how to use it. You may be good at 3D modeling, but a complicated dashboard or a new feature can put your project at a standstill. And that’s the essence of expert guidance through software-specific tutorials.
A good CAD should have an easy and understandable guide and tutorials on the various features. Even though you may be competent in 3D CAD software usage, each software is different, and the workflows and commands may vary considerably. Thus, your CAD tool should offer inbuilt links to comprehensive coaching materials on performing specific actions. Preferably, go for software with both written and video tutorials.
- Good Customer Support
Technical support is essential whenever you experience issues with the CAD software. So, before choosing CAD software, ensure that the company offers customer support in case of any technical problems or errors encountered when working with it. Be cautious of companies that don’t provide customer support because no software is 100% straightforward or bug-free.
Besides one-on-one technical support via calls or live chat, excellent 3D modeling software should have an elaborate Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page on the software’s website for further guidance on how to solve common issues.
- Free Of Hidden Charges
Many free CAD tools are available, but they’re typically limited to essential functions like creating 2D sketches and basic line work. You may have to pay a small subscription fee to enjoy advanced 3D modeling features like animation, virtual tour creation, and real-time cloud-based collaboration. While some CAD software vendors are honest with their billings, other scrupulous ones charge you hidden fees. Beware of CAD software companies that charge more than the actual prices displayed on their website. It’s an unethical business practice and should be shunned by any user.
- Compatibility And Adaptability
You should also ensure that your chosen software is compatible with your computer. Considering this is essential to prevent the system from crashing or experiencing errors. It should also be adaptable to your computer’s operating system and create your desired designs without any issues.
A CAD tool that’s incompatible with your computer will often crash, slow down your PC, or display errors when using it. Speeding up your PC by increasing the Random Access Memory (RAM), switching from a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) to a Solid State Drive (SSD), upgrading the processor, and ridding it of viruses will allow you to run heavier CAD tools. Otherwise, if you don’t intend to upgrade your laptop soon, choose CAD software that can function optimally with your current PC specs.
Excellent and efficient 3D CAD software is vital for designing high-quality models. There are dozens in the market, some with essential features and others with advanced capabilities. So, it’s crucial to assess your needs and choose a CAD tool that serves you best. The above-mentioned features should inform your choice. Review the various software available and evaluate them against this list to get one that’ll benefit you and your team.