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1251 Views 11 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  jw2170
im am retired machinest have always used auto cad however now on tighter budget just looking for economic cad for drawing projects thanks for your suggestions jim
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Welcome Jim. FreeCAD is pretty good. For hobbyists, Fusion360 is also free. Are you going to be doing CNC? If so, F360 is a good way to go.
Welcome to the forum, Jim! Add your first name to your profile to clear the N/a in the side panel. Add your location, as well.

Fusion 360 is free to hobbyists making less than $1,000 annually. If you make more than that there is an annual subscription. I saw the other day they were offering it for the first year at $297. After that the second year goes to the then current subscription price, at least from what I understand.

Are you looking to just draw your projects or are you getting a CNC and in need of the CAM portion, as well? Oh, and we like photos so show us your shop, tools, projects, etc. whenever you're ready.

Welcome to the forum Jim.
Welcome aboard Jim. I'm still using AutoCAD 2005 which works fine on Windows 10. I've looked at other programs and really missed the familiarity I had with AutoCAD. Had I learned on another software I'm sure I'd lean in that direction. That said your use, CNC or not, will help determine the best solution as well as whether you need a subscription based software or free. Free is always good if you can find one to suite your needs. Most these days seem to do 3D modeling which is something I don't really need myself although I remember my 1st 3D rendering in AutoCAD of a simply cone using the latest version of AutoCAD then on my new 386SX with the math co-processor and all of 4MB of RAM. It took 47 minutes........with my newer computers and GBs of RAM and faster multi-thread processor just a mere blink of an eye.

Good luck in your search.
I use Google SketchUp, which is a great program for 2D and 3D designing. They have a free online version, or you can subscribe and get the Full Monty.

Also free, is DESIGN SPARK MECHANICAL. That is a fun and VERY capable program with lots of You Tube training videos.

Yeah, I'm a long time user of sketchup and am very fast with it. The more recent cloud based versions have gotten a lot of negative press. I haven't moved from V17 (non-cloud) so don't have any experience with it. The free version is "web only".

A couple of things to think about before investing (time or money) in SU:
  • it's got a pretty big learning curve for many. Constraining your drawing to a specific plane isn't there and it really takes a lot of getting used to. F360 gives you a "sketching plane", it's a lot easier there.
  • the paid versions are subscription based.
  • it's got limited import/export in the free version - no DXFs in particular. no SVGs, either. It can do STLs, though.
  • it's quirky. I'm used to the quirks but I don't know how many times I've wound up with it snapping to the wrong thing and my parts being off. And at small dimensions, things get weird.
  • If you intend to use a CNC machine, well, fergitit. There's an add on called SketchuCAM but it's an exercise in complete frustration, at best.

[edit] On DxFs, there is supposedly an extension that supports that but I get errors when trying to install it. Says it's incompatible with myeither my version of SU or the operating system (Win 10). So, maybe...
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I am going ot jump into the world of F360. I watched two videos, and I am convinced that this is a great program to learn and use.

Thank you!

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Watch any Lars Christensen or NYC CNC video on Fusion 360 and you'll see it will do far more than most of us will ever need or use.

Libre CAD is free, and supposedly similar to later versions of AutoCAD. My most recent AutoCAD version is 2000, so I am a little out of date...
Thanks for all the info im presently trying free cad gonna take some time hahahaha not sure its the program or my old brain
I'm located in northwest arkansas
I would love to do cnc but probably a long ways out thanks again for all the input I will explore the list
G'day Jim, welcome to the forum.
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