How can you get SolidWorks when you are not a student or a company? I’ve seen a lot of hobbyists using it, but I can’t figure out how they got their hands on it. Is there something I’m missing?
The something you’re missing is described with two words: software piracy. You just need to know where to look for. Most of those people will swear they have a legit license. Yeah right. I’ve been there. That was a long time ago. Now I only use open source software for my personal use.
Meshmixer is free and better for artistic pieces.
In all honesty I should add that back in 2008 with the financial crisis which put so many people out of a job, SolidWorks had a program which provided the software free to unemployed engineers. But it has long been shut down and I doubt those old copies still work.
There are a lot of free offerings, open source or otherwise. May not be on par with SW and the like, but they fill their purpose.
Piracy is a huge thing with Solidworks - heck, i even know of some companies that are using more licenses than they have paid for. Of course, not paying for roughly $100k of software is morally wrong and you shouldn’t do it. This community does not encourage piracy of any kind.
That being said, while a full-fledged CAD suite is the only right tool for the job if you are working in a professional environment, there are many great alternatives available for the lower-budget applications. FreeCAD does a nice job with “true” CAD designs, 123D Design takes that same approach and steps it down many, many levels to make it beginner-friendly. OpenSCAD provides a way to parametrically design parts and assemblies using a programming language, if that’s your thing. Blender is super-powerful and is great for organic models. All of the are free, and with the exception of 123D’s tools, also open source.
You can also get PTC CREO ELEMENTS for free FROM PTC.
You only need to register.
I have Creo 3 from my job and I’m allowed to use it with a borrowed license for private things. But I’ve also tried creo elements and it’s a great tool!
Cubify Design is a nice (IMO) mechanical design & mechanical assembly suite. $200 though. If you know any Solidworks, it’s relatively easy to hit the ground running without too many adjustments.
If you happen to be a US military veteran, you can purchase a (student) copy from SolidWorks for $20.
Cubify Design (which @Jeff_DeMaagd mentioned above) is a limited version of GeoMagic Design (known as Alibre Design before 3D Systems acquired them). The key limitation is that it will not export to STEP or IGES (or Solidworks) – but it will save parts and assemblies in the GeoMagic native format. GeoMagic Design (or it’s somewhat feature limited GMD Elements package) works a lot like Solidworks.
Why not autodesk fusion 360? Free for personal use and even has free cam. $50/mo for pro use. Worth every penny.
Also consider designspark mechanical which is a decent free solid modeller.
Thanks for the great feedback guys! I’m currently using Blender for my 3D printer, but I’m mostly looking for a way to digitally test a mechanism and see how the parts interact. Heck I even saw a guy make a design for an entire 3D printer in Solidworks. Are there any free/cheap programs that would meet this need?
There are free student versions of nearly every autodesk software such as inventor
@Michael_Weber from the OP: “when you are not a student”
There are lots of student offers from all kinds of software makers to draw the young and mouldable minds to their products, but unless you are a student, those are completely out of reach.
Same problem here. As I’m a student, I get most of them for free - but only for educational usage. I was in contact with Autodesk to get a student’s discount for commercial usage…but it’s way tooooooOOooOOooOOoooooo expensive for a little startup
So I decided to start with blender
$50/mo for Autodesk Fusion 360 is for professional use. I recommend starting with that. If business is good, you can buy whatever software you need to move quickly with industry standard workflows. You will need that to stay competitive.