Let's Make Robots!

CAD software


i was asking peeps earlier today (last night? its all blurring together) about the best CAD packages for 3D design and was pointed in the direction of inkscape...a bit of playing around and you tube research and i came to the conclusion its a cool program but a bit more like gimp or corel for my needs.


a little more research and i happened across google sketchup - and my god its amazing -

its seriously simple to use and i was about to start drawing the tamiya geared motor when i discovered you can actually download a load of 3d pics from generous donators

i just had to tell peeps about it cos this piece of kit could help newbies like me in the mechanical design of the bots (which frankly was driving me nuts)

hope it helps..and good luck


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I find OpenSCAD much easier to fumble around than Sketchup, plus, it exports to a number of different, useful formats. But, that is just me.

Recently I've started using Solidworks. It's a true pro tool (probably that's why I still suck at it haha). I get a free license from my university for Solidworks, however I am guessing to buy one for personal use would be a bit costly.

You can, of course, use other ways to get it working on your system, if you know what I mean :D

Nevertheless, if you're thinking of going hardcore one day, to my mind this CAD is the way to go.

Great stuff guys, truly inspiring!

Dom has an honest opinion regarding the new CAD packages for 3D, the design is absolutely great but the software is maybe too easy to use. He should write down his opinion about Cad Cam software, it would be helpful to find out what other people think about this kind of software.

The Cad Cam software is used in many applications, therefore, if you need one of the best CAD/CAM packages, you should search them at the Sierra Company shop. For sure, this software can help you with the 3D design and other applications that you currently work at. The program is easy to work with and if you have problems with its understanding, you can resort to the shop's specialists for their professional help.

I know there are a lot of folks who rail against parametrics these days but the dimensioning contraints and updates in Audodesk Fusion 360 are getting close enough to Solidworks quality that I can teach with it at the high school level and feel confident the kids are getting good transferable skills. (sorry Sketchup ...and I used to go up to Bouder CO to see those guys demo their initial releases pre-Google buy-up...great folks and great product...but still not an engineering tool)


Fusion 360  is free or very low cost to indie users and cloud based so it runs on most platforms (post Win 7 and OsX Yosemite).

There is a little bit in there for everyone, nurbs/primitives style modeling for the Iron Cad, Rhino, Alias Studio Tools,  and Blender folks and real dims and constraints for the Inventor, ProE, Cobalt, Unigraphics, and Solidworks crowd.


The updates are nealry continuous and I have had requested features solved and added within months after spending time on the BBS, making cordial and thoughfully articualted requests rather than whiney flaming retorts.


Check 'em out, this is not your grandpa's Autodesk, they have really done a lot to support the maker community in recent years, a lot more than some of the folks in the list above.

Handy Tip:

If you want to constrain two lines in a sketch in F360, select them so they turn blue (holding shift to make multiple selections), then move the mouse cursor away a tiny bit (not still hovering over one of the selected lines), right click (or option click) and then the constraints menu will show up.


I used AutoCad for years, it has a good 3D engine, I think the lite version is still free.