Best CAD Software for Mechanical Engineers (2023)

Which is the best CAD software for mechanical engineers? When it comes to modern-day mechanical engineers, the ability to design a product or automate a process is everyone's top priority. In order for this dream to become a reality, computer-aided design (CAD) software is needed.

There is no doubt that CAD software(s) can give you a lot of freedom while working as a design engineer. This freedom ultimately leads to a better design and hence it is something that every mechanical engineer should consider investing in.

Best CAD Software for Mechanical Engineers (1)

But there are tons of CAD programs that have been developed since the dawn of time. Which one should you choose? To help you with this task and make things easier, we've decided to create this article on the best CAD software for mechanical engineers. Before we go any further, let’s answer the basic question first.

What is a CAD Software?

CAD stands for computer-aided design. It involves the use of a computer and can be used to generate both 2-D and 3-D drawings, sketches, and models. It is a computer-aided drafting tool that allows engineers to create models by adding or subtracting various angles, dimensions, and shapes.

Below you will find a list of best CAD softwares for mechanical engineers that are currently being used in schools and industry.

(Video) Best CAD Software for Mechanical Engineers in 2022


AutoCAD is an integrated 2D and 3D design software that can be used for many functions such as drawing, drafting, rendering, and editing. AutoCAD has been in the market since 1982 and it’s still one of the best AutoCAD software that you can use to design your buildings, even if you are a beginner.

Engineers have used AutoCAD for ages to make all kinds of drawings like maps, architectural drawings, floor plans, and more. It is still the preferred tool to create basic engineering drawings even after the inception of numerous CAD designs introduced in the market.

Describing AutoCAD simply in terms of its benefits and features is like describing a luxury car for its basic function. True, it does all the things you would want from a computer but its primary purpose is to reduce complexity. That is why AutoCAD allows us to perform complex tasks such as drawing 3D models and designing architectural plans and renderings.

With that being said, if you’re starting out now, AutoCAD could be a stepping stone for you to learn the basics of drawing and designing. But, if you’re looking to get into the industry and earn some bucks, you will probably have to look towards more advanced tools that are being used.

This brings us to Solidworks.


Solidworks is yet another 3D CAD software used to create various kinds of products. As a mechanical engineer, there is no real doubt about the fact that if you are willing to invest time in learning SolidWorks, it will immensely benefit your career as a Mechanical Engineer.

(Video) Best CAD software for Beginners | Top cad software for Mechanical Engineers

There is also no dilemma about it because SolidWorks has not only proved to be an extremely useful, time-saving, and money-making tool for many companies across all industries but has also been judged to be one of the best industrial design software tools in the world.

The more you know about the talent you possess and how beneficial it has become for you over the last few years since you adopted Solidworks in your day-to-day work, the better you would be at utilizing this opportunity to explore your profession and job options in even newer frontiers.

As a mechanical engineer, it ultimately boils down to the fact that you have full control over whether or not this gigantic opportunity is actually going to do good for your career, or go someplace along with tons of other unused opportunities.

Now let’s talk a little about the well know Creo software.

Creo (Pro/Engineer)

When it comes to best CAD software for mechanical engineers, they use Creo (Pro/Engineer), an off-the-shelf CAD software package. In addition to the standard features of Creo, mechanical engineers can use its native file format to exchange information with other CAD programs and directly with other applications like AutoCAD or 3D Studio Max.

Creo can be used to design, simulate and analyze their mechanical systems. It offers a wide range of tools that can be used for mechanical engineering projects from prototype testing and development to full-scale production runs.

(Video) Top Ten CAD Softwares for Mechanical Engineers 2022

A significant feature of Creo is that its software has a powerful tool called ‘Simulink’ which is used for building digital models, simulating the behavior of machines, and analyzing the performance of products.

The simulation can also be used for studying real-world situations with the help of virtual machines or virtual test beds. In addition to its ability to model complicated mechanical systems, Creo (Pro/Engineer) can also be used as an efficient tool for creating visualizations such as animations or 2D/3D models.

This software offers powerful support for creating reports and presentations as well as sharing your work with others in various ways through this software.

Now, let’s discuss the infamous Fusion 360.

Fusion 360

Fusion360 is probably one of the most popular software packages for mechanical engineers. What’s special about Fusion 360 is that it is designed specifically for designing mechanical components and assemblies and it allows users to create models from scratch or import existing drawings into it from other programs such as AutoCAD and SolidWorks etc.

Fusion360 has many advantages over other software packages that are available today such as AutoCAD, SolidWorks, and Google SketchUp, etc. It allows users to create 3D models using different materials such as plastic, and rubber and to import CAD files so that they can see how their designs will work before actually building them. It also allows users to create parametric design files which means that they can alter these designs at any time without having to start all over again. Finally, it also allows users to share their designs with others so that they can learn from each other's experiences.

(Video) Top 10 Software for Mechanical Engineers | Mechanical CAD Softwares

This brings us to our last CAD software i.e Inventor.


Inventor CAD software is a powerful, versatile, and affordable design tool that is used in all stages of mechanical engineering design. It is a program for mechanical engineers that allows them to create 3D models and simulate the effects of mechanical systems using virtual prototypes.

Inventor is based on the concept of parametric design, which allows users to create their own models by specifying parameters such as size, shape, position, and orientation. The software also allows users to create tool paths for manufacturing parts and assemblies in a number of different ways.

Inventor is considered one of the best-designed programs for mechanical engineers because of its speed and efficiency. Its powerful real-time feedback allows you to get immediate feedback on your designs after making changes in the design file. This helps you avoid making costly mistakes while designing an object or machine.

Final Words

There is a complete list of best CAD software for mechanical engineers like AutoCAD, Solidworks, Creo, Inventor, and Fusion 360 can help mechanical engineers to be more creative, efficient, and accurate.

This article explains the technicalities and benefits of each CAD software and can be used as a pocketbook guide to decide which CAD software is appropriate for them to use in a particular use case.

(Video) Best Software For Mechanical Engineers To Learn

It is quite appropriate for mechanical engineers to understand CAD software and use them religiously in their engineering endeavors as it can take their career a long way in their design engineering career and give them a clear edge in the mechanical engineering jobs they apply for.


What CAD software do mechanical engineers use most? ›


This 3D modeling CAD software is used heavily in the mechanical engineering and design industries. It is the industry standard for product development.

What CAD do mechanical engineers use? ›

PTC Creo, SOLIDWORKS, and AutoCAD are examples of 3D modeling CAD software solutions that are used heavily in the mechanical engineering and design industries.

Which AutoCAD version is best for mechanical engineering? ›


Used by mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection professionals. Supplies tools to help draft, design, and document MEP building systems in both 2D and 3D cad. 10,500+ intelligent MEP objects.

Is FreeCAD good for mechanical engineering? ›

FreeCAD has some great modeling tools, like Finite Element Analysis, or a nice robot simulation module. From product design to mechanical engineering, FreeCAD will help you to create your best 3D projects. It can really suit all CAD users and it is constantly improved by a whole community of users.

Is CAD better than Solidworks? ›

Short Verdict. Both AutoCAD and Solidworks are comparable tools. AutoCAD is better suited for general-purpose 2D and 3D drafting, while Solidworks excels in developing sophisticated 3D models and simulations. There is no way to say one of these is superior to the other because it depends upon your requirements.

Is AutoCAD easier than Solidworks? ›

If a complete novice were to consider both programs, AutoCAD is the easier program to use, and then with a basic understanding of 2D drafting the user could progress to 3D modeling and more complex designs that would include multiple parts, assemblies and animations.

Is Catia similar to SOLIDWORKS? ›

CATIA and Solidworks are owned by the same company and do many of the same things. CATIA is primarily focused on surface modeling, and tends to be used by the automotive and aerospace industry more often than not. Solidworks is 3D parts and assembly modeling.

Which is best Creo or SOLIDWORKS? ›

Learning curve of SOLIDWORKS is higher compared to Creo, however, stability and more design control is provided by Creo. Creo also have more robust and stable interfaces. For larger assemblies, Creo works better than SOLIDWORKS.

Which is better Catia or AutoCAD? ›

AutoCAD is the most preferred and is the optimum choice for 2D drafting. Its 3D modeling is considered primitive compared to CATIA, a reliable and efficient tool for 3D modeling and the most favored one for surface modeling.

What are 2 CAD software packages a mechanical engineer should know? ›

Popular examples of 3D CAD software include SolidWorks, Unigraphics NX, CATIA, and Autodesk Inventor.

Which is better AutoCAD MEP or Revit MEP? ›

We can safely conclude that AutoCAD MEP is an ideal tool for architectural design, while Revit MEP is suited for both mechanical and architectural design. It is hard to declare that one tool is better than the other since they serve different environments.

Is FreeCAD similar to Solidworks? ›

FreeCAD is one of the most popular alternatives to Solidworks. It is open-source parametric software with a great community working on improving its features and helping other users. This CAD software gives you the most popular 3D modeling tools such as booleans, extrude, etc.

Is Fusion 360 useful for mechanical engineering? ›

Yes, Fusion 360 has cloud simulation strategies, including linear and non-linear static stress, thermal and thermal stress analysis, event simulation, modal frequencies, commenting, markups, shape optimization, injection molding simulation and electronics cooling.

Should I learn FreeCAD or Fusion 360? ›

FreeCAD is also preferred for large collaborative projects where file compatibility is required because it is accessible to everyone/ open-source. Fusion 360 is primarily used for small-scale mechanical design, computer-aided manufacturing, and woodworking. It's also famous for its product and collaborative design.

Is CATIA or Solidworks better? ›

As you can see both Catia and SolidWorks are powerful CAD software, but for different needs. With Catia you can design the whole aircraft, however, SolidWorks will perform better when it comes to product design and machinery.

What is the most used CAD software? ›

Autodesk AutoCAD software is the most widely used CAD solution in the world, allowing you to design in both 2D and 3D environments. With AutoCAD design system, you can build 3D models, create and format drawings, and much more.

Which is better Ansys or Solidworks? ›

Reviewers felt that Ansys Mechanical meets the needs of their business better than SolidWorks Simulation.

Is AutoCAD better than Revit? ›

Revit is a BIM tool which considers the project as a whole, whereas AutoCAD does not and only focuses on individual components. Revit allows for better work sharing, if everyone is using it. AutoCAD is ideal for 2D drawing, representing real-scale elements for your project.

Why is CAD software so hard? ›

CAD still has a hard time with creating initial concepts (sketching), imagining the perfect shape (optimization), managing organic and natural shapes (for which Euclidean geometry is inadequate), and dealing with discontinuous data (from scanners and sensors).

Does NASA use CATIA? ›

NASA uses several CAD software packages. They use CATIA, Unigraphics and CADDS. CATIA is especially effective at designing more advanced spacecraft, as opposed to satelites.

Is CATIA harder than AutoCAD? ›

Key Differences Between AUTOCAD and CATIA

Both are popular choices in the market; let us discuss some of the major difference: Drawing in AutoCAD is powerful and easy to create. Creating a drawing is a difficult task in CATIA as it is an advanced design software with engineering capability.

Is NX better than CATIA? ›

In this article, we will be comparing two multidisciplinary CAD software giants, CATIA, and NX.
The interface is not as easy to navigate and learn as NXNX has a more basic and modern interface, therefore, is easier to learn
6 more rows
27 Dec 2020

Who is the No 1 mechanical engineer in the world? ›

Ranking number 2 on our list of the top 10 mechanical engineering companies in the world is Google. Google is arguably the largest technology company in the world and is known for hiring an endless list of mechanical engineers.
Top 10 Mechanical Engineering Companies in the World 2020.
Name of CompanyNASA
Revenue (USD billions)22.63
HeadquartersWashington, D.C., USA
9 more columns
2 Nov 2020

Which mechanical engineer has highest salary? ›

Highest-paying mechanical engineer jobs
  • Automation engineer.
  • Research and development engineer.
  • Senior mechanical engineer.
  • Senior design engineer.
  • Powertrain engineer.
  • Instrumentation engineer.

What is 5 most important skills for a mechanical engineer? ›

Top Skills Needed to be a Mechanical Engineer
  1. Problem Solving. A portion of every mechanical engineer's day involves solving client problems. ...
  2. Creativity. Mechanical engineers often develop and design products. ...
  3. Clear communication abilities. ...
  4. Collaboration. ...
  5. Mathematics.

Is CATIA better than Creo? ›

"CATIA has better performance in simulation and surfacing tool than other design software I have used.

Which is better CATIA or Solidworks or Creo? ›

Learning curve of SOLIDWORKS is higher compared to Creo, however, stability and more design control is provided by Creo. Creo also have more robust and stable interfaces. For larger assemblies, Creo works better than SOLIDWORKS.

Why CATIA is better than Creo? ›

tl;dr : CATIA is for massive and large scale. Creo is ideal for small scale and analysis. Essentially, Both are software engineers can use to design, virtually construct and analyse products. What is the best modeling software: SOLIDWORKS, Pro/E, or CATIA?

Which is better Ansys or CATIA? ›

"CATIA has better performance in simulation and surfacing tool than other design software I have used.

What is the salary of CATIA designer? ›

Catia V5 Design Engineer salary in India ranges between ₹ 0.7 Lakhs to ₹ 7.3 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 3.0 Lakhs. Salary estimates are based on 17 salaries received from Catia V5 Design Engineers.

What are 3 skills a mechanical engineer should have? ›

Key skills for mechanical engineers

Problem-solving skills. Creativity. Interpersonal and teamworking skills. Excellent verbal and written communication skills.

What are 3 types of CAD? ›

There are various flavours of CAD available today and there are different methods of classifying them.
  • Types of CAD Software.
  • 2 Dimensional CAD (2D CAD) ...
  • 3 Dimensional CAD (3D CAD) ...
  • Single-file-mode systems - This type of CAD software allows only a single user to work on a single file at a time.

Should I learn both AutoCAD and Solidworks? ›

You can learn both software at the same time as Autocad is mainly used for 2D and Solidworks is used for 3D modelling. Learning Autocad will help you while drawing 2D sketches in Solidworks. Autocad is basic software except 3D modelling . Any school going student can learn this software very easily.

Is Revit harder than Solidworks? ›

When assessing the two solutions, reviewers found SOLIDWORKS easier to use, set up, and administer. Reviewers also preferred doing business with SOLIDWORKS overall. Revit and SOLIDWORKS both meet the requirements of our reviewers at a comparable rate.

Is Revit harder than CAD? ›

Conclusion. In conclusion, Revit is harder to use than AutoCAD. Although it offers more features, the learning curve is much steeper. If you are already familiar with AutoCAD, it will be much easier for you to learn Revit.

Can Revit replace AutoCAD? ›

Over time, Revit can replace AutoCAD. Some criticism of Revit is that it feels like putting the cart before the horse if using it for Schematic Design, but by starting conceptual workflows in FormIt, designers can transfer their schematic designs much more fluidly into Revit for documentation.

Is Solidworks better than SketchUp? ›

Reviewers felt that SOLIDWORKS meets the needs of their business better than SketchUp.

Can I get Solidworks for free? ›

Yes! With the SOLIDWORKS free trial, you can access the latest versions of multiple SOLIDWORKS products. A free trial is a great way to test SOLIDWORKS capabilities and functions without needing the commitment of installation or subscription.

What is better than FreeCAD? ›

Other important factors to consider when researching alternatives to FreeCAD include 3d models and design. We have compiled a list of solutions that reviewers voted as the best overall alternatives and competitors to FreeCAD, including Onshape, SOLIDWORKS, Inventor, and Fusion 360.

Is fusion better than SolidWorks? ›

Fusion 360 is simpler than Solidworks, but still a powerful software in its own right. Fusion 360 is easier to learn and grasp. While Fusion 360 can do almost everything that Solidworks can do, at the end of the day, Solidworks is much more powerful all around.

Should I learn Fusion 360 or SolidWorks? ›

Fusion 360 offers a wide range of preset construction geometry, which makes it really simple to create all the basic shapes. But SolidWorks also has some advantages Fusion 360 doesn't have. If you are looking for software with advanced simulation and analysis features, you will have to choose SolidWorks.

Should I learn Fusion 360 or AutoCAD? ›

AutoCAD is the industry standard, whether 2D or 3D. If you are looking for a 2D drafting, then pick AutoCAD training course, but if you need 3D modeling of real-world products, choose Fusion 360 training course.

Is Fusion 360 better than Ansys? ›

When comparing quality of ongoing product support, reviewers felt that Fusion 360 is the preferred option. For feature updates and roadmaps, our reviewers preferred the direction of Fusion 360 over Ansys Mechanical.

Is Fusion 360 better than Creo? ›

Model-Based design is truly the future of engineering, and no other solution has capabilities as advanced as those in Creo. When it comes to Creo vs Fusion 360, this capability alone blows Fusion 360 out of the water.

Is FreeCAD as good as AutoCAD? ›

FreeCAD is a free software, but unfortunately it is not a substitute for AutoCAD software. AutoCAD is mainly used to design 2D, 3D drawings, drafts and concepts. FreeCAD is a general-purpose 3D parametric modeler for anyone who needs to review and create 3D models and does not own a commercially available solution.

What CAD software does Elon Musk use? ›

I Am IRON MAN: Elon Musk uses Siemens NX and Leap Motion to Design like Tony Stark. In case you've been living under an “Apple IIe” for the past 15 years, Elon Musk is the founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX.

Which CAD software is used the most in industry? ›

Based on user base, here are the top 10 industrial design software applications.
  • Autodesk AutoCAD. When it comes to CAD software, Autodesk AutoCAD is arguably the most popular. ...
  • SolidWorks. ...
  • LabVIEW. ...
  • CATIA. ...
  • Autodesk Inventor. ...
  • ANSYS. ...
  • CNC Software. ...
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D.
1 Dec 2021

Do mechanical engineers need CAD? ›

AutoCAD is among the most useful softwares for mechanical engineers. It enables them to create 2D and 3D models of their designs, which can be used for analysis, prototyping, and production. Additionally, AutoCAD can be used to generate manufacturing drawings and bills of materials.

What CAD does NASA use? ›

NASA uses several CAD software packages. They use CATIA, Unigraphics and CADDS.

Is CATIA similar to SolidWorks? ›

CATIA and Solidworks are owned by the same company and do many of the same things. CATIA is primarily focused on surface modeling, and tends to be used by the automotive and aerospace industry more often than not. Solidworks is 3D parts and assembly modeling.

What CAD does Rolls Royce use? ›

As for the aero engine industry, Rolls royce uses MSC Nastran for whole engine dynamics, their custom tool SC03 is used for most thermo-mechanical simulations. Fluent, LS dyna, Abaqus & Ansys are also used by some departments. Mesh generation: Hypermesh for whole engine models, ICEM for cfd, NX Nastran for all others.

Which is best Creo or Solidworks? ›

Learning curve of SOLIDWORKS is higher compared to Creo, however, stability and more design control is provided by Creo. Creo also have more robust and stable interfaces. For larger assemblies, Creo works better than SOLIDWORKS.

What is the fastest CAD? ›

According to, Onshape is now the fastest-growing CAD system in the world, with users topping 2 million and a rapid growth rate of 7x the average of other CAD systems.

Which CAD software is better? ›

What Is The Best CAD Software?
  • Autodesk Fusion 360. Autodesk Fusion 360 is a 3D CAD, CAM, and CAE tool for product development. ...
  • Autodesk AutoCAD. ...
  • TinkerCAD. ...
  • FreeCAD. ...
  • Solidworks. ...
  • Creo. ...
  • Sketchup. ...
  • Catia.

Which CAD version is best? ›

Some people prefer the older versions of AutoCAD because they are more user-friendly. Others prefer the newer versions because they have more features and are easier to use. Ultimately, it depends on your personal preferences and what you need the software for. There is no one "best" AutoCAD version.

Is AutoCAD or AutoCAD mechanical better? ›

AutoCAD Mechanical software includes all the functionality of AutoCAD, plus a library of standards-based parts and tools. Users can automate mechanical engineering tasks generating machine components, creating BOM, it has 700,000+ intelligent parts to support ANSI, ISO, DIN, JIS, BSI, CSN, and GB standards.

Does NASA need mechanical engineers? ›

Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices including tools, engines, and machines. These are essential systems in platforms in NASA's Earth Science missions, like satellite and airborne missions.

Is mechanical engineering a lot of coding? ›

To work as a mechanical engineer, only a basic knowledge of coding is required. Typically, mechanical engineering students are required to take one coding class in college. Other engineers, like Computer Engineers, take many coding classes as part of their studies.


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