Industrial Design Software


This page is dedicated to Industrial design CAD software and product design CAD software. These programs are ideal for anything from vehicle design to machinery design to plastics. We have placed sophisticated 3D solid modelers in this category as well as some less expensive 3D options.

It should be noted that the most used and most popular industrial design software is typically only available on the Windows platform. Developers of these products have not yet taken the opportunity to capitalize on the Apple Macs growing popularity in 3D design. Common Windows products include Solid Edge, Solid Works, IronCAD, Inventor, GeoMagic, Unigraphics, Pro-E and many more. You can run these on Apple machines using Windows (IronCAD seems to work best in this environment) but if you are using Mac OS-X then the following products should be considered.

  • Rhino3D® – is NURBs surface modeling for Mac by Robert McNeel Inc. The Mac version is not quite as powerful in features as its Winodws counterpart but non the less it is a powerful and innexpensive 3D modeler that is particularly good for complex surfaces. It is used extensively in the product design, industrial design, ship design and jewelry design industries. It is not as capable as solidThinking when it comes to making parametric changes to the model but is superior at free form manipulation of the surfaces. 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 the 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® PC counterpart so if you know the PC version you will still have to relearn this one. It has a dedicated Mac interface and is a good choice when wanting an all-rounder. It should 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 moving retail software site like Amazon as you will undoubtedly need some level of support.
  • BricsCAD is now released on the Mac and this is a good contender in this market. It is well priced and quite well featured. It can be thought of as an AutoCAD clone software as it uses the DWG file format  and looks and feels like AutoCAD. You will need the BricsCAD Platinum version of the software to get solids and features designers are looking for. Its complex surfacing is not as powerful as Rhino3D or SolidThinking but its drafting is superior. If you already know how to use AutoCAD this is a great choice.
  • 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, jewelry 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 in place for many years and still has a strong following among product designers. These days Form-Z extend their abilities into the Architectural arena for concept modelling in particular. The methods and processes used in Form-Z are quite unique and some designers really love their approach.
  • TouchCAD®, – is specialized software for the development of complex shapes into flat patterns for manufacturing. It covers everything from boat hulls to soft materials such as inflatables, tents, blimps, awnings, sheet metal objects, sculptures and architectural designs. TouchCAD can also unfold high resolution images applied to complex shapes.

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