Merging modern software development with electrons and metal
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Mechanical CAD, Special Deals, and Me

When I look at my traffic stats, I see there’s a lot of interest in affordable mechanical CAD.  I think that interest is good: I do not believe in pirating software, and I believe there is a place for affordable MCAD (and affordable CAM for desktop CNC machines), especially for personal use and as a tool for people who aren’t primarily mechanical designers.

I own licenses of Alibre Design Standard V11 (which I bought during the $99 sale) and VX Innovator V14 (which I bought on sale for $195).  I also have free licenses for DoubleCAD XT and CoCreate PE.

I mainly plan on using Alibre and VX Innovator, and reporting my experiences here.  They are somewhat complimentary; Alibre is a pretty standard history-based parametric modeler (with some nice features such as Acrobat 3D output), and VX is a hybrid modeler (solid and surface).

DoubleCAD looks very capable for 2D CAD, but I don’t expect to use it a lot.  I mainly use it for viewing and experimenting with DXF files created by Eagle PCB.

I do like CoCreate PE, but don’t plan on using it much now that I have Alibre Design and VX Innovator.  It’s limited to 60 parts per assembly, which I could easily exceed when modeling a PCB, and cannot export STEP files.  PTC has offered some very big discounts in the past to upgrade to the full version, but the annual maintenance  cost is way too high for my budget.

However, this is not a MCAD blog; my interest in still primarily in automation software and system integration (including PCBs).  OK, I do plan on writing more, but mostly I want to write about my experiences with affordable MCAD.  I do not have the time or interest to keep up with all the latest deals.  But I still might mention deals or MCAD news occasionally.

If you want to keep up on the latest special offers, you should visit MCAD sites such as and World CAD Access.  Also, if you register for the free versions (e.g. Alibre Design Xpress, CoCreate PE, DoubleCAD XT) you will receive e-mail offers.

Alibre has had a lot of good deals (maybe too many).  I’m currently sticking with V11 because I haven’t used it enough, and the improvements in V12 aren’t compelling for my uses.

VX had another sale on VX Innovator around Christmas, but they aren’t as good at marketing as Alibre; if you’re interested in a deal on VX, you should check their web store frequently.

Kubotek has had some sales, too, such as Kubotek Spectrum for $99; current deals include $700 off KeyCreator.

My latest MCAD news is here.


1 Dave M. { 01.15.10 at 11:48 pm }

Hi Tom, this isn’t something you’d probably normally look at, but have you ever tried out OpenSCAD? It’s not the best choice for industrial design work, but if you have parts that are described by formulas, or need to create a number of parts that differ only by a number of features in a pattern, it’s an interesting environment to play in. The catch is that you can only really export stereolithography files. Now that I’m playing with cheap 3D printers, I have been exposed a little to OpenSCAD and I thought you might want to at least check it out.

2 Tony { 01.18.10 at 5:20 pm }

I saw OpenSCAD on WorldCADAccess. Interesting, but unfortunately I don’t have time to investigate. Also, note that many commercial CAD programs can do spreadsheet-driven part variations and/or have APIs that should allow programmatic part creation.

3 bandsxbands { 03.03.10 at 12:21 am }

Interesting post… Looks like solid state memory is finally beginning to take off. Hopefully we’ll start seeing decreasing solid-state drive prices soon. 5 dollar 32 GB SDs for your Nintendo DS flash card… imagine that!(Submitted on TF3 for R4i Nintendo DS.)

Leave a Comment