I am a bit of a 3D CAD software brand shifter. I “play” with different band name systems. Mostly because I want to see how each product approaches the drawing process. Also, what special engineering analysis features they include in Hobbyist versions.

True professional 3D CAD is a lot more than a drafting program. The well know major CAD systems offer tools far beyond the drafting feature. Most offer true engineering features like center of mass and stress analysis. Among literally dozens of other engineering testing and calculation features.

Some CAD will deep dive into photo-realistic presentation of the finished drawing.

A lot of the advanced (beyond drafting) features are only in the high-priced commercial editions or as extra cost “plug-in” features. That’s good as there is no need for a hobbyist to pay for more features than needed.

For my hobbyist machine shop, 3D printing, and jewelry design, my primary need is good drafting and drawing tools.

I do appreciate the other features like “center of mass” for something of unusual shape I want to hang properly on the wall or a neck chain. The CAD I use (Autodesk Fusion 360 for example) includes these tools.

Decades ago I started with 2D conventional CAD. In those days it was mostly a glorified computer screen drafting system.  It would keep parts lists and other design information, but there was no direct testing simulation.

My formal drafting started with pencil hand drawing mechanical machine parts in a college engineering course in 1965. Hand electronic calculators were rare, and I trained on using standard and round slide rules for larger engineering calculations. (Decimal points were tricky to manage… )

Finished drawings were then hand inked and finally photocopied. Architectural BluePrints (messy process) were the standard output, then white prints soon dominated shop drawings after large scale electronic printers became the norm.

Today I paper print almost nothing. My primary output is the Stereolithographic (.STL) file for 3D printing. Before that it was a drawing output file to CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) conversion. Some CAD software may have the CAM built in. Called CAD/CAM software. Or CAM with CAM added in as a compatible plug in

My present favorite Hobbyist CAD is Autodesk Fusion 360. I almost abandoned F360 because of the price escalation for the standard commercial version. Autodesk doesn’t like to fully explain its Hobbyist free “personal use” version of F360 in detail.  Turns out is exactly the same as the commercial version as far as drawing tools. Only 10 drawings can be open for editing is the limitation. But all closed read-only drawings remain completely visible and accessible.

Fully accessible and easy process to switch drawing from read-only to editable process with one mouse click and enter key.

I don’t design multi part complex machines with dozens to hundreds of components needing full edit capability. Personal Use F360 (I call it PUF360) is perfect for my needs and budget.

I will continue to venture into and use other brand CAD products, as that is what I enjoy. I have no self-imposed limitation or imposed loyalty to what tools I want to use. I have seven brands of 3D printers and six different slicer programs in regular use.

It’s a hobby!