10 Best CAD Software for Students & Architects

Whether you're in the business of manufacturing things or designing buildings, CAD software can help you in ensuring your success.

What is a CAD Software?

CAD software or a computer-aided design software is a 2D and 3D vector design software used by architects, students, mechanics, inventors, engineers, and designers to create 2D and 3D diagrams of mechanical and industrial objects.

Such a software could be pretty beneficial in your daily industrial works for various purposes: from simulation to 3D printing to visualization, the advantages of these software are numerous. However, both 2D and 3D modeling software can be costly, and you will not want to pay a fortune for the wrong 3D technology.

This is why I have listed the Best CAD Software for students & architects on which you can spend your money without thinking twice.

A CAD software Diagram
A CAD Diagram

Best CAD Software

Here are some of the best CAD software available online.

CAD SoftwareKey FeaturesPricing
AutoCAD2D and 3D design, drafting, modeling, and documentation, industry-specific toolsetsStarting at $1,690/year
SolidWorks3D CAD, simulation, product data management, and collaboration toolsStarting at $3,995 (one-time fee)
CATIAAdvanced 3D modeling, simulation, and product lifecycle managementContact vendor for pricing
SketchUp3D modeling, design, and visualization, user-friendly interfaceFree version available; Pro version starts at $299/year
Fusion 360Integrated CAD, CAM, and CAE, cloud-based collaboration, and generative designFree for personal use, commercial plans start at $495/year
RhinoNURBS-based 3D modeling, versatile and powerful tools, compatible with various file formatsStarting at $995 (one-time fee)
OnshapeCloud-based CAD, real-time collaboration, and version controlFree for personal use, commercial plans start at $1,500/year
TinkercadSimple, online 3D design and modeling tool, suitable for beginnersFree to use
PTC CreoParametric and direct modeling, simulation, and manufacturing toolsContact vendor for pricing
Siemens NXAdvanced CAD, CAM, and CAE, product lifecycle management, and simulationContact vendor for pricing
Inventor3D mechanical design, simulation, and documentation, parametric modelingStarting at $2,085/year
OpenSCADScript-based 3D modeling, highly customizable, ideal for programmersFree and open-source
FreeCADParametric 3D modeling, open-source, supports various engineering disciplinesFree and open-source
Solid EdgeHybrid 2D/3D CAD, synchronous technology, simulation, and data managementContact vendor for pricing
3DS Max3D modeling, animation, and rendering, robust toolset for game and film industryStarting at $1,620/year

Let's explore the 10 best of these, one by one.


image 7

Autodesk Autocad is a famous and extensively used CAD software that is easy to learn and ideally built for newbies. Yet, it remains the king among professional engineers and architects.

AutoCAD software offers many unique features that help to create any 2D or 3D models easily and quickly. With Autocad's 2D and 3D drawing tools, You can add annotations, lighting effects, and hatching to your drawings.

You can easily use pre-built components of this software to make things like walls, windows, and doors. In conclusion, refine your designs by modifying the transparency of particular elements or adjusting the lighting to show them more realistically with photorealistic rendering.

Converting 3D models to STL files for 3D printing is simple with AutoCAD. Although it is good for 2D drafting, many users claim it is difficult to use for 3D modeling purposes.

In mechanical engineering and architecture, this AutoCAD is a true game-changer. AutoCAD costs around $1,865/year or $5,315/paid every 3 years.


Catia is a professional CAD software developed by Dassault Systèmes, mostly used for aerospace projects. It is especially beneficial for creating complex and precise designs. It is known for being both the most powerful and the most expensive software in the market. Although it is challenging software, it is the most preferred by many engineers. You may work on any product with this software. It gives you more design options and allows you to modify particular areas of your design, giving you more creative freedom.

If you are an engineer, Catia will offer you all the tools you need to create your 3D CAD models, and it is the ideal software for mechanical engineering projects.

3DS Max

3DS Max is another Autodesk CAD software that offers many powerful plugins to help you create any 3D models effortlessly.

As the name implies, 3Ds Max is all about 3D modeling. It provides fly-through animations for completed projects, making them perfect for sharing. Depending on the set packages for media work and entertainment, manufacturing and production design, engineering, architecture, and construction, you can add different plugins to this software to meet your demands.

To mention a few, 3Ds max offers few structure-building-focused options. These tools include steel details, structural analysis, building performance analysis, etc., which makes it highly flexible, giving you the freedom to create anything you want seamlessly.

3DS Max costs $5,085, paid every 3 years or $1,785, paid annually.


Solidworks is a fantastic 3D modeling software made for engineers and 3D designers. SolidWorks is a comprehensive and powerful tool that offers designers and engineers a wide range of features to create innovative mechanical models effortlessly. This 3D software provides an easy-to-use interface that comes in handy during the designing or manufacturing of industrial parts. It's a parametric feature-based model that offers design validation and reverse engineering tools.

Solidworks is mainly used for industrial purposes as it is convenient and comprehensive, giving better simulation and surfacing tool performance than any other design tool in the market. In addition, it has excellent rendering capabilities. This software enables the creation of extremely fine curvatures and also employs dimensional sketching rather than polygonal modeling, making resizing much easier. It also uses dimensional sketching rather than polygonal modeling, making resizing much easier.

Solidworks is an ideal CAD software for engineering students who need a powerful tool to create precise and excellent mechanical drawings!

It has different plans for commercial, learning and academic needs.

Fusion 360

image 7 1

Fusion 360 is one of the market's most powerful 3D CAD software. It has many unique features that use the cloud to connect design teams to collaborate on complex projects. This software offers some advanced tools that'll work effortlessly on mesh modeling, solid modeling, and parametric modeling.

The great advantage of the Fusion 360° platform is that it stores the whole history of the model, including all revisions. It has various design options, such as solid, freeform, and mesh modeling. It offers a monthly-based subscription payment model.

Additionally, it is updated regularly, runs on a variety of devices, and lets users view their data from anywhere.

It operates on various devices, and lets users view their data from anywhere. In addition, the software's professional skills, user-friendly interface, and workflow make many users choose this software.


FreeCAD is a free CAD software that offers open-source 3D modeling tools to help designers create unique mechanical engineering models and product designs. The software is designed as an alternative CAD solution, allowing users to create architectural and electrical design tasks efficiently.

Furthermore, its framework will enable you to add plugins to increase functionality. For example, FreeCAD lets you add extensions such as Python scripts or self-recorded macros to complicated applications such as C++ programs.

With FreeCAD, You'll have complete access to all its elements, including the Python interpreter and external scripts. In addition, this software runs on a parametric model that streamlines design workflows and allows you to tweak the design before adjusting the parameters by referring to your model history.

Although this software is not intended for professional use, it is an excellent training tool. Its options are relatively simple, and it is an excellent place to start if you have no prior knowledge in the designing arena.


In today's industries, new products are being developed daily through CAD-CAM analysis, which is critical for producing prototypes for analysis, coding conversations with the CNC, and executing MATLAB. This is where SolidEdge comes into play.

New products are being developed daily through CAD-CAM analysis, which is critical for producing prototypes for analysis and coding conversations with the CNC. And it's a great platform for creating and simulating car parts in the automotive industry. It's great for creating and simulating car parts in the automotive industry.

SolidEdge provides comprehensive design solutions and scalable simulation, production, and data management solutions. In addition, small and medium businesses can benefit from Solid Edge's industry-leading, professional product development software, which comes with flexible licensing to fit your budget.


Inventor is Autodesk's flagship 3D CAD software used for product simulation, mechanical design, tooling creation, and many more. Inventor is a well-known software that has been on the market for more than 20 years, competing directly with other popular software such as SolidWorks or Catia. Inventor is considerably more focused on digital prototyping and simulation.

The most robust feature of this software is making precise sheet metal part models very quickly. It has the most excellent drafting and design tools for high-detail mechanical and civil drawings. The inventor can produce fine data with high precision. It is manufacturing-driven software, which means its users look for a real-world experience near the actual world to understand how their design will work.

It is considered more user-friendly than its competitors, and as a result, it is frequently used by designers with little or no engineering background.


OpenSCAD is a free, open-source CAD Software that allows you to create solid 3D models with ease. It's best for experienced users looking for a platform to build a complex project on. It is a 3D compiler that is based on a textual description language, not an interactive modeler.

An OpenSCAD specification describes geometric primitives and the methods for modifying and manipulating them to generate a 3D model enabling you to develop 3D designs with customizable elements or reuse code for future projects. Constructive solid geometry (CSG) and extrusion of 2D outlines are at the heart of OpenSCAD software.

There is a very steep learning curve in this software. It is, however, free CAD software for modeling enthusiasts who enjoy seeing their little code come to life on their displays and within their 3D printers.


NX, popularly known as "Unigraphics," is a high-end CAD software developed by Siemens. NX is a powerful CAD tool that comes with extensive capabilities for examining a part's structural integrity to determine a finished product's functional capacity, such as its durability. With such features, NX's applications, such as proof-of-concept development, go beyond what other CAD software packages can provide.

Nonetheless, this NX is widely used by General Motors, Nissan, Fiat Chrysler, and Suzuki in various industries, including automotive. Unigraphics NX can deliver all features for Industrial, Engineering, Human Modeling, Progressive Die Design, Ship Design, Mould Wizard, Manufacturing (CAM), Drafting, Mechatronics, and all other features available, according to industrial market requirements.

It also includes a section on Advanced Simulation for Prototype, and the most significant characteristic of this software is the CAE (CMM). With such features, the NX's features go beyond what other CAD software tools offer, making it a tough competitor in the arena.

This concludes our topic for today on the top 10 best CAD software available in the market.




CAD software or a computer-aided design software is a 2D and 3D vector design software used by architects, students, mechanics, inventors, engineers, and designers to create 2D and 3D diagrams of mechanical and industrial objects.

CAD Software is used by architects, students, mechanics, inventors, engineers, and designers to create 2D and 3D diagrams of mechanical and industrial objects.


The software and apps listed in this article are user-friendly and approachable CAD software, and some come with pro features that may require some training.

Note that these software come with cheap student versions, so be sure to check for those versions on the mentioned sites.