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Your recommendations to a total beginner looking to use CAD software?

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Ben Spicer15/08/2015 03:04:58
8 forum posts
4 photos

Hi there.

I wonder if any of you would be kind enough to recommend a CAD software to someone ( ME smiley   ) who is completely new to this technology. I have been looking it up online but would rather hear from some of you who use it as to what would be good for a total novice to " play about with" Just to get a rough feel for it. . Although I am 26 I am not at all up to date with this type of technology blush so your guidance would be appreciated.


Thanks in advance.


Edited By Ben Spicer on 15/08/2015 03:05:26

Gas_mantle.15/08/2015 07:13:01
359 forum posts
269 photos


I asked a similar question a few weeks ago and got numerous helpful replies.

The thread is here :-


David Clark 115/08/2015 07:47:28
3357 forum posts
112 photos
10 articles

TurboCAD 16 is an excellent package and available from my local Maplin for £7.50.

David Jupp15/08/2015 08:07:18
738 forum posts
17 photos

There are many options. I'd suggest that you find one that is either used by somebody who can help you get started, or one which has lots of training material available.

The cloud based options mentioned in the other thread are certainly great value for the hobbyist.

In my opinion there are huge advantages to 3D CAD over purely 2D.

IanT15/08/2015 09:19:20
1581 forum posts
145 photos

Like David C - I'm a long time TurboCAD user which isn't expensive if you purchase a slightly older version (I got my current version from Amazon). I started on out a 'freebie' version (v4) many years ago. I usually skip 2-3 versions when updating but TC has developed and improved over the years and looks set to continue to do so. I only use it in 2D mode currently btw (but I pretty much draw everything before machining it now) although 3D is sitting there should I ever decide I need to learn it.

There are other (and possibly friendlier) products around that have come along since, so it's hard for me to say what I would choose if starting over today.

What I will advise you though, is that whatever you choose - make sure a) it is capable of supporting not only your current needs but also any future needs (this may be hard to know right now, so let's call them 'aspirations' instead) and b) that it is likely to continue to be around (and supported) for a good long time. I believe TurboCAD is such a product.

However - my main CAD advice is this.

It takes a good deal of use and practice to become proficient at any form of CAD that's going to be your long term drawing tool. So your investment in time and effort will not be trivial. Take your time choosing your system but once you've chosen, stick with it and overcome any difficulties you might stumble across (they are more likely to be problems you've created rather than actual CAD system issues - at least if you are using a mainstream product).

Its taken me a long time to get to my current proficiency with TC (and I'm by no means an expert). There may well be better/newer CAD systems out there but I'm not the slightest bit tempted by them - and frankly will probably not be until/if the day comes when I need to really do something that TC simply cannot handle.

It hasn't happened yet - so I'll be sticking with the CAD system I've invested so much of my time learning & using.

So choose your CAD carefully for the longer term - and then stick with it.



Russell Eberhardt15/08/2015 09:57:17
2599 forum posts
85 photos

Full 3D CAD is great but does have a long learning curve.

Perhaps you might find it interesting to try Google Sketchup. It is not a very professional program but it will teach you the basic principles of creating 3D models. It is free and there is a lot of help and tutorials available online.

If you find you want something more professional you can then move to the free Fusion 360 or pay (a lot of money) for something like Solidworks.


Bazyle15/08/2015 10:20:15
5392 forum posts
206 photos

I haven't used CAD for a while but have used Draftsight free which is quite good. I had to get another freeware to print to make a copy I could scale to fit something. So you might want to check the finer details of a few and how well they will pick up other program's files.

Back in 2000 a CD of the then out of date version of Turbocad came free with PC world and could draw numbers round a clock face or dial either all vertical or all following the curve for a dial. I don't think Draftsight can do that 15 years later and I would be interested to know if the cheap TC sold at some shows will do so now.

Neil Wyatt15/08/2015 10:50:52
18133 forum posts
713 photos
77 articles

I think David's recommendation of TurboCAD 16 is a good one for several reasons:

1 it is fully featured

2 it puts you into a good place to move on to the later versions if you want

3 It can open and save many other formats including DWG

4 If you want to send me drawings for MEW I can be confident of being able to read them


martin perman15/08/2015 12:55:34
1857 forum posts
78 photos


Based on comments from others on here I trotted off to Maplins this morning and purchased TurboCAD 18 @ £9.99 and

will have it up and running this evening to see what it can do.

Martin P

Neil Wyatt15/08/2015 13:45:10
18133 forum posts
713 photos
77 articles

Steep learning curve - find a tutorial on line or have a simple object in mind before starting.

If you haven't used CAD before, make an object in 3D and create spearate windows for your 2D views. Much easier than trying to go the other way.


martin perman15/08/2015 14:36:21
1857 forum posts
78 photos

I work away from home a lot so have plenty of time in the evenings and it will stop me watching telly all night.

On the box its says TurboCAD 18 but the disc and software is Ver 19

Martin P

David Clark 115/08/2015 15:46:39
3357 forum posts
112 photos
10 articles

Hi Martin, absolute bargain.

martin perman15/08/2015 16:33:00
1857 forum posts
78 photos

Thats what I thought.

Ben Spicer15/08/2015 22:18:33
8 forum posts
4 photos

Hi guys.

Thanks for you helpful replies. I have downloaded Google Sketchup as recommended by Russell. I know its not the "full package" but im having a play about on it and its giving me a rough feel for 3D drawing etc before I commit to spending any money.

Saying that, one member above I see has mentioned his bought Turbocad 18 for £9.99 so I will look at something like that. I work shifts on my own so will usually have plenty of time to study it.

This may be a naïve question, but If you have drawings for an item and you created the 3D cad version of it, could you use this and print it out on a 3D printer and then use it as a casting pattern?

Thanks for you help.


IanT15/08/2015 23:20:00
1581 forum posts
145 photos

Hallo Martin,

Have a look on YouTube for the TurboCAD tutorials by Paul Tracey.



John Gregson 115/08/2015 23:24:41
9 forum posts
3 photos

I still got auto cad 2000 running on very old laptop platform window me and newer laptop On Xp I find this easy to use.


Versaboss15/08/2015 23:38:54
455 forum posts
51 photos

Well the thread opener brought up a question which resurfaces every couple of weeks...

So what does the total beginner really need? In my opinion one of the most important point is how easy it is to bring an idea from paper sketch (or off one's head) to the screen. Now it is my firm believe that all these programs like Turbocad, AllyFreeware, DraftSight lack very much in this respect. So I decided to set up a little challenge and hope that some of the supporters of the above (or other similar programs) will throw the gauntlet.

I started, as usual, with a 'design'. Just some lines and data on a Post-it:

Then I tried to convert that to a CAD drawing, using 3 different 3D programs. This remark is important because these programs are usually used to create 3D items, not simple 2D drawings.

The first one is the very small SolveSpace program. This I think was the fastest do do, maybe less than 3 minutes. One of the drawbacks is that the program expects closed forms, because you can't extrude single lines. So they are marked with 'Not closed contour...'. A small nuisance only. Also there is only one line style, although you can change colours. Could be that broken lines are possible also, but I did not find that in short time.

In all cases I did a screen dump directly after drawing, so that's not exactly what you see on a print output.


Next one is from Alibre, the first version which was available for free many years ago. As I did not use this for quite a time, I needed maybe a bit longer, say 4-5 minutes:

Sorry it seems the dimensioning is not very readable.


The third example is from the new Onshape program. This I had to do twice, because I added twice the same dimension and couldn't find an easy way to telete one of them. Surely a problem of insufficient knowledge. For prospective users it could be important to know that Onshape still has no print (drawing) output, although it is promised to come.'very soon'. Time for this maybe also around 5 minutes.


The 'modus operandi' for all these programs is almost the same.

- select line tool and draw an arbitrary triangle and the horizontal line.

- constrain the latter to be horizontal

-select the measuring tool and measure the angles, then giving them the correct values

- measure the base of the triangle and giving the correct value

- if necessary tidy up the drawing by moving the dimensions around

Now I would very much like to see (in pictures and with description) how the same triangle is drawn in Turbocad and especially DraftSight!

Regards, HansR.

Muzzer16/08/2015 05:01:12
2904 forum posts
448 photos

In the interests of science and being confined to my hotel room (Kunshan, China), here's my contribution:

Solidworks 50 seconds:

Solidworks 50 seconds

Fusion 360, 52 seconds:

Fusion 52 seconds

Inventor 45 seconds:

Inventor 45 seconds

All starting from the 2D sketch environment. Very similar process, very similar times. If there was beer money riding on it and I practised a couple of times, I'm sure I could get that down to 30 seconds or so and I'm not even a CAD jockey. Naturally, Inventor crashed just after I took the screen shot but I'm getting used to that now - not my favourite by quite a way.

Solid Edge is slightly different and potentially faster, as it asks for the angle and length when you are placing lines, so you could put the lines in directly without needing to do so much dimensioning afterwards.

The modern version of Alibre is Geomagic or Cubify, depending whether they are selling to professional or home/school users. The latter starts at around £30.

I don't buy the argument that it takes ages to learn 3D CAD so you should choose carefully now. In fact, once you've used one brand, you discover that they are actually fairly similar - and of course that's hardly surprising given that it's a competitive market place. Try a few out and find which works for you.

The current version of Turbocad Deluxe seems to be v21 and costs something like £65. Fusion 360 is free, well supported and has a lot of extras. Just saying....


Andrew Johnston16/08/2015 10:53:25
5635 forum posts
652 photos
Posted by Muzzer on 16/08/2015 05:01:12:

In the interests of science and being confined to my hotel room (Kunshan, China).................

Ooooooeer, dare we ask why?


Neil Wyatt16/08/2015 11:18:38
18133 forum posts
713 photos
77 articles
Posted by Ben Spicer on 15/08/2015 22:18:33:

This may be a naïve question, but If you have drawings for an item and you created the 3D cad version of it, could you use this and print it out on a 3D printer and then use it as a casting pattern?

Short answer - yes.


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