I’ve gone through the most basic tutorials for Solidworks. It is a very high-end 3D solid materials modeling program. Until now, I did not know that there is a free program, DesignSpark, that offers many of the same features. Note that it only runs on Windows machines.
If you need Solid Modeling, such as used in production and manufacturing, watch an interesting introduction in the following video:
direct link to video
The program can be LEGALLY downloaded at:
I’m not saying it is the solution to all problems. I am saying that, if your organization can not put out $5,500 for a single copy of SolidWorks professional package right now, why not give DesignSpark a shot?
What about BRL-CAD?
Yes, it is usable and it is open source which means Mac and Linux, as well as Windows support. While I think its interface is a bit long in the tooth, it is very usable. I believe DesignSpark may be easier to use, but, if you want to try BRL-CAD, click on the link and go for it.
I have noticed little evolution in BRL-CAD in the last four years. I hope the project continues, but it may have grown as much as it can.
Either way, DesignSpark and BRL-CAD give the smaller companies a shot at the high-end functionality that the modern manufacturing environment needs.
When those smaller companies one day absolutely need the high-end $5,500 to $8,000 per station software, then they can move up already having established just how useful 3D cad is in their organization.
Note, any organization thinking about using either one in a major project should use one, or both, in smaller projects to see if these programs can handle the needs of the organization.