Freeware or Shareware for Robot CAD design

Since the subject was brought up in another topic, I thought I would make it a topic itself. A few companies have started to offer drafting
and 3d design software for free (in hopes you will eventually purchase one of their products)
QCad; Matthias Melcher mentioned using the shareware QCad, which is 2d Only.
Alibre Design; I've worked a bit with Alibre Design. They have a freeware "Alibre Express" which does 3-d parametric design. This is a very professional, full package. The Express version is limited to 3 parts in an assembly, and requires that you maintain an internet connection which will provide advertisements. ($50 to turn off the ads). www.alibre.com
Solidedge; Another freeware 2D program is offered by Solidedge. I haven't used it. http://www.solidedge.com/free2d /
Anyone else want to add to the list?
Joe Dunfee
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I use AutoCad 2000 and Personal Designer. PD is now public domain, but requires DOS which has now been obsoleted in Bill Gate's universe. But.. here is an interesting program that allows you to sketch in a detail part and submit it for quotation to an infinite number of job shops. The benefits of this program: input dimensions, coordinates and the like then print them out for templates to make your own details using sabre saw or the like.... or simply getting a decent bid from a waterjet, laser, Amada puncher, or the like and get a fully functional detail part in the mail in a day or two for a reasonable price. Check them out: http://emachineshop.com / They have a superb demo to illustrate the system.
Wayne

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I have not been happy with the freeware/shareware CAD programs I've looked at. A good CAD program takes a lot of time and effort to write, and the open source ones I tried were buggy, lacked decent documentation, and other problems. You spend more time dealing with shortcomings of the software and would save money just by purchasing a commercial product.
Though I use the full TurboCad package for many 3D tasks, my CAD-CAM machine runs off DXF files I create with the low-end TurboCAD. They're up to version 12 now, which is 2D/3D. The one I have is 2D only, which is fine because that PC can't handle a more elaborate program. TC-12 is about $80. Most people don't need the features of the full pro version, which is around $900.
-- Gordon
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QCad (http://www.ribbonsoft.com/de/qcad.html ) is a small package that fulfilled all my 2D needs. Mainly, it reads and writes dxf which my CNC friends need, and it runs on Windows, Solaris, Linux, and Mac. It's 24 Euros (about 28$US), a demo version is available.
I am new to CAD and I have little comparison, except the other open source packages that I tried. QCad was easy to get into and it seems to have all that a beginner needs. It reads the dxf files from professional packages and writes files that my buddies can read, which is not always the case in dxf world. Also, QCad's developer is continously improving the program. Too many shareware programs are abandonware. QCad does *not* calculate my tools paths. I wrote my own little package to do that for my hobby mill (which does not understand G-Code anyways).
Matthias
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I've had a chance to install and spend a few minutes with Solidedge. I was surprised to see how functional it was. It is a fully parametric 2D drawing program... in fact the only one I know of. It imports and exports DXF and DWG.
It seems you can use it without having to go through the process of making the drawing fully parametric. This is good because the parametric process can be daunting at times. Of course, it is also a very powerful thing, because a parametric model can easily be modified by changing the number on a dimension.
Be aware that it is a 230 megabyte download... definitely not for dial-ups.
Joe Dunfee
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Actually, Alibre Design Xpress allows 10 unique parts in an assembly, and far more if you are including multiple duplicates or instances of the same part.
Also, Alibre removed the requirement for an Internet connection and the display of ads long ago.
So in short, more parts in the assembly are supported, no internet connection is required and no ads are displayed. You don't even need to register to run the product.
This is one of the best 3D products on the market, and by far the best, and likley only, truly functional 3D design product on the market.
-Sun
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I'm using Autodesk Invertor 11. My school is in Autodesk school program, so i have licence for free.
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