Engineering CAD Software


This page is dedicated to CAD software designed for mechanical engineering design. These products are ideal for special purpose machinery design, jobbing shops, fabrication and product design. We have placed sophisticated 3D solid modelers in this category as well as some less expensive 3D options.

It should be noted that at this time the most popular MCAD (Mechanical CAD) software tools are only available on Windows. These include Solid Edge, Solid Works, IronCAD, Inventor, GeoMagic and many more.

Native to Mac OS-X are the following products for your consideration.

  • SolidThinking® – is advanced 3D NURBS modeling CAD for the Mac by solidThing who are owned by Altair Engineering. SolidThinking Evolve® is the modeling module and brings high-level parametrically controlled Non Uniform Rational B-Spline (NURB) curve ability into play! What this means is that you can accurately model and subsequently control complex surfaces at any time in the modelling process by adjusting the dimensional and constraint parameters of the model or by visual dragging of control points. This is probably the best Mac based modeling tool for accurate creation of curvaceous and mechanical forms and is particularly useful in product design, jewellery design and curvaceous architectural building design. Model files from SolidThinking can be output to regular CAD programs for the creation of 2D documentation.In the same family of products also exists SolidThinking Inspire that takes models and applies optimization algorithms to create lighter, stronger, more rigid or more flexible shapes to the design. SolidThinking is sold via channel partners of Altair.


  • CobaltArgonXenon and Graphite by Ashlar-Vellum are a range of modular CAD programs designed for Mac and Windows and typically used in product design. We are unable to give a great deal of information on this software directly but their site is informative. Cobalt is the flagship product whilst the others are sub-sets of this program.


  • Form Z® by AutoDeSys. Has been around for many years and still has a strong following among product designers who were early adopters of the Macintosh platform. These days Form-Z also extend their abilities into the Architectural arena for concept modelling in particular.


  • Rhino3D® – is NURBs surface modeling for Mac by Robert McNeel Inc. Rhinoceros 3D for is a powerful 3D modeler that is particularly good for complex surfaces and is used extensively in the product design, industrial design, ship design and jewelry design industries. It is not as powerful as SolidThinking, because SolidThinking relates to changing the model parametrically whereas Rhino requires manual manipulation, but Rhino is well priced, extremely popular and well supported. Rhino3D has almost become a default standard when it comes to curvaceous modelling for manufacturing and other downstream product design operations.


  • TurboCAD® – for Mac by IMSI/Design is a relatively new player in the Mac market, leveraging its well-known retail CAD product brand name to slip into the general purpose CAD for Mac market. Aimed mostly at the consumer, hobbyist and entry level professional market it is well priced and well optioned. The product is very different from its Windows® counterpart so if you know the Windows version you will still have to relearn this one. It has a dedicated Mac oriented interface and is a good choice when wanting an all-rounder. It should always be purchased with the training DVD as there are many tools to learn and understand. It is available in two versions, one more advanced than the other. We would recommend buying this software from a dedicated CAD vendor rather than from a box mover like Amazon as you will undoubtedly need some level of support to make the most of this software.


  • AutoCAD® for Mac – from Autodesk® like TurboCAD® has opted to leverage its well know brand to gain market acceptance. AutoCAD®for Mac is a very different beast to AutoCAD® for Windows® as they have opted for a very Mac like interface. One could say that AutoCAD for Mac is not really AutoCAD as we know it at all. At this stage there are very few add-in applications available for the Mac version and so in reality, AutoCAD for the Mac has little more to offer than any other general CAD software on this platform. The other detracting factor is that it is comparatively very expensive with only subscription based licensing available. You can create custom scripts, line types, hatch patterns, and command aliases, as well as AutoLISP and ObjectARX applications; however, there is no support for DCL in AutoLISP, nor is there access to some of the custom AutoCAD® user interface controls in ObjectARX. Technologies specific to Windows®, such as Visual Basic® for Applications, OLE® objects, and Windows Media Audio®, are not supported in AutoCAD for Mac. The most commonly used functionality of AutoCAD for Windows is included in AutoCAD for Mac, however, there are a few commands that are not included, including layer filters, layer groups, and layer states; Sheet Set Manager; and DGN, PDF, and DWF underlay support.


  • BricsCAD Platinum for Mac is the one to get if you’d otherwise have chosen AutoCAD as it has a very familiar interface to that of traditional AutoCAD and works natively in Open DWG format, BricsCAD Platinum also has many more advanced and useful 3D modelling tools including parametric driven operations. Its not quite IronCAD or SolidWorks but is moving towards that arena and is well worth investigation. You can get good information form the CAD International or Bricsys web sites

NOTE: It is the current opinion of the AppleCAD team that those wishing to embrace higher end MCAD, (Mechanical CAD) to most of those listed above should, dare we say, consider running Windows and IronCAD. Within the expertise of this team, IronCAD is the current preferred choice for highly efficient and powerful MCAD software followed by Solid Works

Need help choosing? Ask us