What CAD is for me in 2024

So here we are! :smiley: Click on the clip above to go to the previous discussion!

The only CAD application I have ever been able to wrap my brain around is Onshape, and it seems to be a bit of an outlier as far as the ubiquitous F360 goes so I’m not able to “argue” about the merits of others.

I use the free version which keeps all files in the public domain visible and searchable to all, and will be very miserable when someone finds my files and starts to develop one of my genius ideas!

I resisted for a long time because there is no “off line” version, and I have a natural suspicion of keeping my stuff on other people’s computers.

For me though the benefits outweigh those negatives, and I do keep model files (not cad files) on my backup. If I was in a commercial situation, I think I’d bite the bullet, and pay the money, private files remain so and are accessible but not editable after ceasing to pay a subscription.

Maybe I’d export all my work to a back up in some other format I was comfortable with (Solidworks or whatever?) but since I’m not comfortable with any other format, that’s a bit moot!

I am surprised, given the ubiquitous nature of F360 in the maker space that it seems to have so many shortcomings, or is our community just pushing its boundaries?

From what I have gathered when researching to figure out how to do things in Fusion…

Fusion is still a relatively new application from Autodesk (2013-ish), while Solidworks has been around since the 90s.

I’m not sure of the differences/similarities, but I think Inventor is Autodesk’s more professional solution to compete with Solidworks.

My understanding is that Fusion was like this 20-year milestone project that Autodesk was starting and they are still in the mid stages of development.

However, in true Autodesk fashion, they are slow to give feedback, missing seemingly obvious features, and don’t respond much to user requests.

This may be fine when dealing with professionals that have all their needs met, but it’s a different world nowadays with most people like Makers because of the amount of options there are out there, and it looks to me like there are a lot of people that are getting frustrated with them and looking elsewhere.

I personally only have started using it this year, but not really that heavily. I mostly did my modeling in Blender before, but was looking for something that I could get more precise control over measurements and dive a little into some parametric modeling.

So far, the majority of the complaints I have relate to either my lack of understanding of things or their lack of clear error explanations, or restrictions they have in place in the free version.

Onshape I looked at, but didn’t like the “all files are public” thing. No one else needs to know the exact dimensions of my shop and the layout of my tools lol.

If I ever get a chance, I would like to make FreeCAD my tool of choice, but I just haven’t been able to push myself to do it. I prefer to support the Open Source products if I can.


I just watched a freedcad video…it looks a lot better than last time I used it. I need to look at a few more.

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The 0.21 series is definitely better than the 0.17 was the first time I saw it

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Deep down I would love to be a FreeCad guy.

Perhaps I know enough now to try again, but I don’t know if I want that learning curve just yet.

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I feel the exact same way.

I just know how fast I can be at Solidworks, I took the time and got pretty good at Fusion but still find it lacking. I worry even if I could get to that point in freecad (does it do everything I want), will I find it lacking?

I thought about just buying a SolidWorks perpetual license. I looked at what has changed since the 2018 version I used…and I can say it would not be worth $1300 a year, I assume it is just keeping current with windows for the most part. BUT…onshape does not import the features, so no sharing files.

Back to fusion/freecad/onshape, So I can share real cad files when I want.
onshape is $1500/year, no perpetual license for old projects, no rendering. 3X fusion. will it even be any better than fusion (probably). I just do not get to use CAD enough to want to spend that much money every year.

I wish I could just buy an old SolidWorks license. Seems they only support that if you buy the previous company that used it. I am pretty confident I will not find a company for sale with a 2020+ solidworks license for less than $4k (the price of a perpetual license).

I think I am stuck with fusion. I can export step files of specific parts so I can make things like tool mounts that are editable for everyone. So if I mess with tool mounts for the LR3 anytime soon I will give it a shot.


I guess what I am looking for is a small business version. They all have a startup package of some sort, why not a small business one user version? Take away the added support package or something and reduce the price. I do not want to pay a yearly online only license. I have a nice computer, my hardware will work very well standalone. I have to believe it will be faster and smoother locally.

—I need to stop ranting about this. I could just go fully open source and not pay a dime…


Fusion has a startup license for companies that manufacture products

I think they rope you into being a spokesperson for them or something though :slight_smile:

Only for up to 3 years max though

I only just installed.0.21, last I really used was 0.19 and … I found it lacking.

On the plus side, it still seems to be getting active development. So long as that continues, I will hold out hope.

I got to the point of screaming frustration many times over “over constrained sketch” errors when things could still move around in ways I didn’t want it to. (And of course it wants to automatically remove almost all of the constraints that I placed, which was less than helpful.) Maybe I’ve learned enough more now to get the results I want, by letting go of a few things I wanted constrained that do not need to be. Maybe. Moving things often ended up with weird jumps to the other side of lines and objects that I could not fix, but I have definitely learned more since then, and the newer version looks pretty good. I pulled up some old projects in 0.21 and played with them.

Parameterization is definitely better than 0.19. Like I said, there is hope.

8 1/2 years for me now. I get it but they treat every company like a VC funded startup. One question they all as require is how funding have you received. I applied for the Onshape program even though I technically do not qualify.

Yeah…did you know you can ever not fully constrain a spline…pretty crazy, I wonder how they deal with that. I lost a bet to my old boss about that one. Sometimes you need to use them. Can’t imagine how they handle surfaces, I use those pretty often.

Are you talking generally or package specific? (Terms like spline and poly line were what caused me to stumble in the first place I have to say…)

Isn’t one of the points of using a bezier curve that you can?

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Sounds like me considering switching to Linux every year!

Only thing I can add to this is to look what’s happening to game developers using the Unity Engine this year. These EULAs make it so corps can change anything like pricing and features whenever they want with barely any notice. You can’t really project long haul software value anymore. Just stick to what gets the job done and hope they don’t try to screw you later!


I tried every way to fully constrain it and it you can’t. I assumed you could dimension the curve handles and that would lock it in…it doesn’t. I thought it was a trick question and he was going to show me how to do it…nope, you just can’t do it. You can constrain it enough where it doesn’t move but solidworks never considers it fully constrained. Since I left I have not work with an industrial designer so I have not used one since in anything other than decorative.

Curious. I’ve just had to try of course and yep in Onshape every node must be dimensioned, but when it is even a mirrored curve is fully constrained. I’ve been mucking around with a model boat hull for a year or so and haven’t quite got it sorted (mostly because it’s the wrong tool for the job) but now that I know this…

This is the true value of idle chatter - random bits of discovery!

This sounds like a question I would usually ask Ryan.

What about openscad? ducks

I love Onshape. But that is mostly because it works on every computer (even when I am a guest on someone’s machine) and I don’t have a business. I totally understand Ryan having trouble trusting it.

A lot of B2B (business to business) companies have a couple of whales that they pay really close attention to, and they ignore the minnows. My guess is that if Lockheed Martin calls them up, they stop development to find a fix. They won’t answer an email from the rest of us.

There was a lot of change between FreeCAD 0.19 and 0.21. There was/is a fork that was very bleeding edge at one point too. I tried 0.21 and it was fine. There were a couple of thing that weren’t the same as onshape. But I am not a power user. Shortly after that, I switched to a new computer and just didn’t install it. Going to onshape.com was just too easy for me. If onshape fails me, I will probably go to freecad or openscad.


I am also thinking of having a look at Plasticity.

I am happy to pay the modest amount required, and it “reads” well, but I’d love someone to give it a go and report back! It looks like tinkercad meets blender and is apparently very good at editing existing models.


I still use openscad some especially with threads & used it for several years before moving mostly to fusion 360. One thing that really irritates me about fusion 360 & threads is they allow no tolerance in the fit, or have I missed how to get tolerances in these. Come on, 3D printing has been around for how many years now & you need a tolerance for threads to fit with plastic parts unless you use a tap & die to go over the threads. Sure, there are some ways to overcome this tolerance problem, but not without going around your elbow to do it. In openscad, there is a thread library I use which you only need to make a parameter change to get that tolerance. Do the other CAD programs allow for tolerances with threads?

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Wait, so that says it is fully constrained?

Not if you use a standard. I think you can define your own and use any numbers you want. I almost never model threads though because I always use a standard so why waste me time.

I bet I will love it too. I now have models in Fusion and SolidWorks that do not transfer between the two. Adding a third is giving me anxiety…but I am close. I need to spend a little more time in onshape. I think I might model the LR3 mounts in there to see how it handles them. A really cool thing about solidworks is if you import a step file, it asks if you want to reverse engineer it. It will automatically make a feature tree to make that existing part. It will not necessarily be how it was originally made, but it will make your exact part editable. I didn’t know that was unique, or at least fusion will not do that. I need to test onshape, that comes in handy.


Onshape’s reply to the startup pricing…"After careful consideration, we regret to inform you that we cannot accept your application at this time. Due to the maturity and size of your company, it does not meet the program’s requirements. "

Guessing maturity is more of the factor than size of the company.

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