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This is a LONG list, so I'll post the link. The list page gives a summary of experience level designed for, OS it will run on, and file formats.

Clicking on any link takes you to their other page with a short description. All the descriptions are on one page, but the links take you directly to the one you want to read about.
https://all3dp.com/1/best-free...cad-programs-design/

Here's one that limits the list to what they feel is best for beginners.
https://pick3dprinter.com/free-cad-software/#morphi

Last edited by Quietman
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Thanks these articles are very helpful.

My 3 year plan has always been to downsize, get a new layout up and running, retire from the corporate grind, then detail the layout. Part of that detail includes utilizing my creativity with 3D printing.

I’m part way through my 3 year plan. So I’m thinking that I could start tinkering around with 3D designs as I have time. Just not taking the time and money to print them out yet.

My question to you is, what is the best hardware to do the designing? I have an iPhone 11 and a crappy 3 year old laptop pc. Should I invest in an iPad or Mac?

Thanks ahead of time. 😎

Have you used or are you familiar with any CAD software?

Do you intend to use web based CAD (such as TinkerCAD, Fusion 360) or an Offline CAD program?

For me a large screen is *extremely* helpful.  OS... Windows/MAC/Linux is a personal choice... i.e., use what you are used to using.   Processing power is helpful the more RAM/CPU/GPU power you have the better (I use a desktop with an overclocked cpu, overclocked RAM & RAID setup SSD drives... it's quite perky).

Most of this is personal preference...

Last edited by Dennis-LaRock

Thanks Dennis,

Big screen sounds like a real good idea for design.

I’ve played around with cad a little bit. I’m a 35 year IT vet so I’ve done about every role there is at this point. Self taught myself 6 different programming languages over the years. Always stretching myself to learn new things. 😉

I’ll stick with the crappy laptop for now. I can hook up to a big screen.

Thank for your insights.

Give TinkerCAD... then, Fusion 360 a try first... web based... and, good tutorials.  They are commonly used (I used them to get the basics down) and 0.00 up front costs.  Programming makes you crazy... you know.  Let me date myself... Assembly, Pascal, FORTRAN, VAX, C (my favorite), C++, Basic and throw in some SQL.  What day of the week is it?

Last edited by Dennis-LaRock


My question to you is, what is the best hardware to do the designing? I have an iPhone 11 and a crappy 3 year old laptop pc. Should I invest in an iPad or Mac?

Thanks ahead of time. 😎

Do you have the specs on your laptop?
ChiTown Steve. Some of this is for you, and some is for people that don't have your background. In case you wonder why I put some stuff that's pretty basic (to you that is) in here.
If you want to get a PC to handle this then there are 3 questions.

1. Do you have the ability to assemble your own?
2. Do you have a place near you where you live that could build one for you.
3. Would you rather stick with a laptop?
I ask because I can spec out what you would need. For this type of work, computer stores will oversell you on the hardware. You don not need a Ryzen 9 16 core processor or a 24 core Threadripper and an RTX 3090

And with a laptop you can always use a large external monitor. I have my wife set up with two 27" external monitors attached to her laptop. For laptops you will need at least a mid range "gaming" laptop to get good performance. And in the last 2 months, the game has drastically changed as to the APU's recommended for laptops. (An APU is a combined CPU / graphics card chip for those seeing this who were not in IT). So anyone telling you what to get needs to be on top of recent developments.

And BTW, once you go to multiple screens, even with a laptop and an external monitor, you'll wonder why you didn't sooner.

Designing & rotating objects does not take anywhere near the horse power full blown animation rendering or 4k/8k video does . Especially at the level you work for in 3D printing.

I've built my own for years, and stay on top of the technology. And I keep an eye on it at all levels of use as my family and friends often ask for advice. I'm one of the few old farts that young people come to for suggestions when building systems. I've had to explain to the sales guys at Microcenter, who are gamecentric with their hardware choices, why the alternative hardware they recommend when I ask where something is located is either

1. Not needed for what I do, or
2. Not the best hardware for what I do.

The fact I have a system that can boot into Win 7, Win 10, or Linux, and run WinXP in a virtual machine for old software, often leaves them baffled

There are also some brands that will have prebuilt system that will work, but unless they use industry standard parts, I shy away from them as incremental upgrades may become an issue.

Last edited by Quietman

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