what cad software should I get?

I am new to cad/cam/cnc software. What is the the most affordable or cheapest software I should get or buy to learn? I want to get into small metal parts manufacturing.
thanks for any help you can give.
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I'm kinda partial to AUTOSKETCH, which is a product from the AUTOCAD people.
Cost is about $150.00 US. It permits you to create .dwg and DXF files which are compatible with full-blown AUTOCAD programs and others. Don't know if they are FULLY compatible... I have not explored this fully.
It is pretty comprehensive and I use it for commercial design work.
Wolfgang
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On Sat, 21 Jun 2008 07:32:47 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

=========Indeed, and to follow up on this, an AutoCAD or a clone like Intellicad that will accept LISP or VBA add-ins [free] may be all that you need for reasonably simple parts. There are several free LISP programs that will allow you to use the osnap command to pick up end of arcs, etc, eliminating any need for "trigging." Simply more/rotate the cartoon so that the desired origin is located at 0,0,0 and use the lisp add-in to generate the end-points of the lines, arcs, centers, etc.
There are several "flavors" of Intellicad. the one I use is from CMS See http://www.intellicadms.com / you can download a free trial version and the users guide at http://www.intellicadms.com/products/cms-intellicad-cad-software.asp the standard edition at 110$US may be all you need [no photo rendering or raster imaging.] http://www.intellicadms.com/store/catalog.asp?categoryID=MgAs in an other post, if you don't know at least one cad program, contact your local vo-tech or community college and take a class. This will greatly shorten your learning curve and get you started the right way.
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ------------------------------------------- He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils: for Time is the greatest innovator: and if Time, of course, alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end?
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), English philosopher, essayist, statesman. Essays, "Of Innovations" (1597-1625).
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Keywords:
snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

I've used AutoSketch (and Drafix, which was what it was called before AutoDesk bought them out) for about 20 years. It's a great 2D program, and I've used it for everything from diagrams for business presentations to laying out microwave circuits.
The bad news is that Autodesk hasn't realsed any updates for 4 years. They have an on-line forum, and there has been some noise about a new release, but I'm not holding my breath.
Doug White
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In my opinion, any CAD software you get will reqiure a BIG investment in your time to learn. In a year or two, the cost of the software won't seem to be that big a deal. You'll be wondering which package would have been easier to use, whic one had the features you need that yours does not, or which one has better tech support, etc.
I googled "compare cad software" and got lots of hits.
Here's one:

How many times in life has someone said: "you'll LOVE this movie" and, when you saw it, you hated it? Many of us will be glad to tell you what we have and/or what works for us. But, since you haven't told us much about your interests, background, education experience with mechanical drawing, machining, etc., what will you do with the info you get?
I'd read ALL the reviews and all the comparisons that I could get my hands on. NO CAD software is "easy to use". I ALL requires a lot of rote memorization by the time you get deep enough to be able to actually make a useful drawing of anything of moderate complexity.
I use one brand almost daily and have tinkered with 2 others. The bright spot in all this is the some or many of the commands and processes may be tranportable from one system to the next, so even if you end up choosing the absolute cheapo (is 2D TurboCad still free?), you will be a little ahead of the game if you switch later. I am told that folks who already do a LOT of CAD find it easy to switch between vendors.
Long time Turbocad user who loves it one day and hates it the next, Pete Stanaitis ----------------------
kuikahi wrote:

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I bought Turbo Cadd for a simple project - quite frankly, I found it's menuing system indecipherable - but then again, I bought an older version off e-bay for $30 so I didn't pay the big bucks. Autosketch is good, but when I last used it, it was only 2-D

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This is the free evaluation version of a powerful printed circuit board program that I use for 2D CAD. It is NOT easy to learn but it has worked quite well for the electronics housings I've designed with it.
http://www.mentor.com/products/pcb/pads/pads_eval.cfm
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I would want a solid modeler, which ideally be Solid works. Since this is very expensive, try Alibre, starts out free and you can upgrade to multiple levels depending on your budget.
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On Sat, 21 Jun 2008 12:05:19 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

In light of the large investment in time required to become proficient with any CAD package, whether it's a 2D drafting program or 3D parametric modeler, I'd also suggest skipping straight to a solid modeler. Considering that Alibre Express is free, highly regarded, and probably no more difficult to master than a 2D program, it seems like a no-brainer to me.
http://www.alibre.com/xpress/software/alibre-design-xpress.asp
--
Ned Simmons

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I agree with these others: solid modeling. It is the natural approach. Fitting assemblies is incredibly valuable. Projections, sections, isometric views, exploded diagrams, all come for free.
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Maybe it's just my limited experience, but I've seen more mistakes in 3D Solidworks designs than in conventional 2D drawings. I learned drafting back in the pencil and blueprint days when there was considerable emphasis on developing a mental image of the part and knowing how to transform it from plan and elevation (cabinet?) view to isometric. Because of that training I don't usually need to make more than a quick sketch except to document a customer's job. It seems that 3D CAD lets people draw things they don't really understand.
Jim Wilkins
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On Sun, 22 Jun 2008 04:22:30 -0700 (PDT), Jim Wilkins

If you're seeing more errors in 3D parametric designs than in 2D CAD or board generated designs, that's a failing of either the designers or the environment they're working in. It's true that an inexperienced designer can produce impressive looking 3D models and detail drawings of a poor design with a 3D modeler and toss it over the transom and let manufacturing deal with the errors. If the business environment allows, or encourages, inexeperienced, or just plain bad, designers to pump out crap with no feedback, that's not the fault of the software.
The current crop of modelers really can improve the both the quality and accuracy of designs. On the other hand, I'm sure they can also generate good looking garbage with great efficiency and little skill, if that's what's called for.
I got my ME degree and started my machine design career on a drafting board, and experienced the infancy of both PC based 2D CAD and parametric modeling. I used to enjoy working on a board and would not have been awfully disappointed to give up Autocad and return to manual drafting. I feel very differently about Inventor, the modeler I'm using currently.
--
Ned Simmons

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Or an overworked mechanical engineer asked to squeeze in a little temp help for another department. Since I don't have a Solidworks license and don't know the program anyway, I had to redraw the dimensions on paper from measurements before I could make changes.
The full-time CAD operator produces beautiful drawings for complex sheetmetal that fit together perfectly.
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On Sat, 21 Jun 2008 00:31:56 -0700 (PDT), kuikahi

==========Some good observations from most posters, including our resident grenches.
Two cautions if you are thinking about going "art to part" from customer supplied cartoons.
#1 -- While things are improving, many of the customer supplied cartoons are still drawn using the LAR [looks about right] drafting standards, and the actual specifications are in the notes & dimension text, which the cam programs ignore, as they generate the program from the cartoon. In many cases this is a result of quick and cheap engineering changes where only the dimension text was updated. You will however still generate scrap using a program generated from the [old, not updated] cartoon.
#2 -- The tolerances specified are not equal/bilaterial from nominal, for example 1.7500 +0, -0.010, while the customer cartoon is drawn with the feature at 1.7500, not 1.7450 +/- 0.005, so when the program is generated you are machining to max which will also tend to generate scrap with any tool wear (assuming outside machining).
Another factor is the rampant excessive cost cutting which has eliminated many essential engineering steps such as product design review and drawing checking, so the customer cartoon with notes and dimensions may not be producible, such as specifying a 1/2X20 [instead of a 1/4X20] tapped hole in the end of [or through] a 1/2 shaft. Effectively, the contract machine shop is now not only expected to produce the part, but to also check the drawing and conduct the design review. It is therefore essential that your standard order acceptance form include a disclaimer that the part will be produced to the customer's cartoon, if that is what you intend to do.
Good luck with your career in CNC machining. and always remember that the technical stuff is the easy part.
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ------------------------------------------- He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils: for Time is the greatest innovator: and if Time, of course, alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end?
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), English philosopher, essayist, statesman. Essays, "Of Innovations" (1597-1625).
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On Sun, 22 Jun 2008 16:05:54 -0500, F. George McDuffee wrote: [...]

[...]
Yes, the practicality of that depends a lot on specified thread fit, material tolerances, and equipment accuracy. Here's a picture of a 3/8"-16 bolt threaded through a tapped hole in 3/8" bar:
http://pat7.com/js/m/bolt-28.jpg which was one of half-a- dozen such attempts before I decided it was a bad idea because I couldn't center the hole consistently enough. :)
-jiw
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On Sun, 22 Jun 2008 16:05:54 -0500, F. George McDuffee
SNIP

Hey Unca George,
Very nice well considered and written answer. I hope the OP undertands what you have given him, and the thought and time it takes to write even those 20 odd lines of text.
Good show!!!
Take care.
Brian Lawson, Bothwell, Ontario.
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Ohio Art Etch a sketch?
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