By Jason Vander Griendt

December 29, 2017 at 6:02 am

Mechanical engineering drawing software products are used to design, inspect and manage 2D drawings and 3D models in an efficient way. These software products are used across an array of project fields, mostly for the manufacture of mechanical parts and prototype concepts, and for the design of production molds.

Given the large amount of CAD software products there are, as a mechanical engineer or CAD drafter, you may be wondering which one to choose. In order to narrow down your options, some of the questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • What kind of work am I going to be doing?
  • Which software is being used in my industry?
  • What’s my budget?

You might also be interested in: What are the advantages of CAD design over manual drafting techniques?

Most of the mechanical CAD market is dominated by Autodesk, Dassault Systems and Siemens PLM Software, and if you are considering which license to acquire you’ll need a good deal of research before making a selection. We’ve made part of your homework a bit easier and have put together a list of our 3 favorite software suites below, as well as an option for saving the time and expense of purchasing and learning mechanical drawing software.

Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk Inventor is one of the best 3D CAD modeling software there is. It uses 2D AutoCAD drawings as a base and has all the tools necessary for 3D design and simulation of manufacturing components.

The best part of Autodesk Inventor is its user-friendly interface and, contrary to AutoCAD, it is really focused on the post-design manufacturing process.

Inventor allows a simpler way of drawing, using a design based on dimensions, giving the ability to draw a preliminary sketch and then tweak it to get to the final model. It’s got an amazing AI and it’s really easy to use its editing features.

Cost: $1,890 Standard license annual fee.


CATIA is the major CAD software used in the mechanical domain for industrial design and simulation. It is used by lots of big organizations and allows for amazing simulation capabilities in the lines of real-life-behavior, inside realistic collaborative environments.

CATIA, besides supporting 3D modeling, is also specialized in surface modeling; assembly; machining, fluid, electrical, structural and mechanical drafting and analysis. It’s also widely used in the automobile and aerospace industries.

Cost: CATIA doesn’t like to state their costs publicly, but their costs range from around $10,000 to $65,000 upfront, and then $5,000 in annual fees, with the price largely dependent on the modules you request.

SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer

SOLIDWORKS is a design software more focused towards the efficient generation of 3D models in response to a design brief. It’s got the greatest selection of tools for quick creation and editing of 3D concept models in a collaborative framework.

Given its simplicity, SOLIDWORKS is the preferred tool of a great portion of mechanical drafters out there for the manufacture of components and mechanical parts. Although it allows mechanical drawing of virtually anything.

It features intuitive sketching with realistic rendering and brings some of the best tools for drafting, modeling, assembly and motion simulation to the market. As well as the ability to be integrated with a variety of other software products and plugins.

Cost: $4,000 Standard License

A Better Option than Buying Mechanical Engineering Design Software

As you can see, mechanical CAD drawing software can be pretty pricey. On top of the cost of the product, you also need to factor in the time cost of learning how to use these products.

You may be surprised to find just how time and cost-efficient it is to outsource your mechanical drawings to professionals.

If this is an option you would like to consider, please call 1.888.202.2052 or emails for more details!

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Jason Vander Griendt

Jason Vander Griendt is a Mechanical Engineering Technician with years of experience working at major companies such as SNC Lavalin Inc, Hatch Ltd. Siemens and Gerdau Ameristeel. He is the CEO of JCAD – Inc., a company he started in 2006 after seeing a gap in the market for businesses who could assist clients through the entire product design and manufacturing process.

Jason has been featured in Forbes, has had his businesses analyzed and discussed in multiple start-up books, was a previous winner of the Notable8 Digital Innovator of the year award, and is a regular guest on business panels and podcasts. Email Jason at or follow him on LinkedIn.

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