10 CAD tools for your small manufacturing business


Computer Aided Design, or CAD, is an essential tool for any manufacturing or product design business. There are many different software that can help you with this feature, but knowing which ones to choose can be a bit tricky.

Dan Taylor, content analyst at the software review and research platform Capterra, said in an email to Small Business Trends: “You have to be careful in choosing CAD software because if CAD is used in manufacturing, it is also more suitable for one than the other. This is why it is important to try the software first.

CAD tools

If you’re looking for new CAD software to try out for your manufacturing business, here are a few options to consider.


AutoCAD is a 3D CAD program that Taylor says is popular with many manufacturing and product design companies. It is available for Mac and Windows by subscription, with different prices depending on the length of your subscription. Features include 3D modeling and visualization, customization options, and a mobile app for working on the go.

CAD design

From TurboCAD, DesignCAD is a software suite that offers 2D and 3D design options. The 3D CAD program includes features for rendering, animation, modeling and more. The program costs $ 99.99 with optional upgrades also available.

3D CAD Solidworks

Solidworks offers three different versions of its CAD software. The Standard Edition includes 3D design functionality for creating parts, assemblies, and drawings. The premium and professional versions then include advanced collaboration and simulation options to take those designs to the next level. Pricing is customized based on the needs of each business, so you should contact the team directly to determine the cost and features you require. A free trial period is also available.


Vectorworks offers a number of different software options for different types of designs and products, ranging from architecture to structural design. So you can check out the different options and find the one that best fits your business niche. The company also offers mobile solutions and a trial version.

Free CAD

FreeCAD is a product design and modeling platform that is, as the name suggests, free. It is an open source tool with cross-platform reads and open file format options. Since it’s so customizable, it takes a bit of technical knowledge to navigate, but the price at least allows you to try it out without making a major upfront investment.

Creo Parametric 3D modeling software

A 3D CAD tool specifically designed for product development, Creo Parametric offers both design and automation capabilities to help product manufacturers get their ideas to market faster. You can use it for everything from framing design to sheet metal modeling. There is a free trial with custom pricing options available afterward.

TurboCAD Deluxe 2018

The latest version of TurboCAD, this option includes both 2D and 3D design options. 3D design capabilities allow you to create lifelike product renderings perfect for those who need to present new product ideas. It also includes some architectural features as well as 3D printing capabilities. Priced at $ 149.99, a free trial option is also available.


Shapr3D is a tool for iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. It is not as comprehensive as some other 3D CAD tools. But for small manufacturers who prefer to work on a tablet or use 3D printing, this can be a unique and cost-effective option. The Pro version costs $ 300 per year, and a free option is also available for beginners if you want to play around with the tech.


For programmers or those who know coding, OpenSCAD offers a free and open solution for creating 3D designs and models. It is available for download for Linux / UNIX, Windows and Mac. It offers a variety of features that focus more on the CAD aspect than the design.


SolveSpace is another free offering that lets you create digital models of 3D products. It gives you the ability to define dimensions, create 3D shapes, analyze measurements, and export designs. It is an open source tool that offers constraint-based modeling functionality and simulation capabilities for Windows, Mac, and Linux users.

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