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The Best CAD for Engineers in 2020

(Updated January 2020)

Industry News | By Duff-Norton | Jan 14, 2020

By 2023, the global computer-aided design (CAD) market is forecast to reach 11.2 billion U.S. dollars, up from seven billion U.S. dollars in 2016. CAD is a tool that uses technology to help engineers do their job faster and more efficiently. Although the user still needs to have some knowledge of drawing standards, CAD works to automate manual hand drafting, helping engineers design accurate, reliable applications.

In this article, we’re bringing you a round-up of the best CAD software for engineers in 2020.

1. AllyCAD software

AllyCAD is one of the most user-friendly CAD packages on the market. It provides fast and efficient image handling including multiple aerial photo images, industry-wide drawing files and geo-referenced data compatibility.

2. TurboCAD Pro Platinum

This program is more expensive than its competitors but with TurboCAD Pro Platinum you can create 3D models using parametric or direct modeling features. You can also use some advanced surfacing features to add curves and deform your 3D model to your specifications.

3. SketchUp Pro

Synonymous with friendly and forgiving 3D modeling software, SketchUp doesn’t sacrifice usability for the sake of functionality.

‘At SketchUp, we do our best to make great tools for drawing. For our users, drawing is thinking. They draw to explore ideas, to figure things out, to show other people what they mean. They draw because they love it and because nothing great was ever built that didn't start with a great drawing.’


4. ViaCAD 2D/3D

ViaCAD is manufactured by Encore Software Inc. and designed to run on Windows and Mac computers. You can also use some advanced surfacing features to add curves and deform your 3D model to your specifications. With intelligent and easy-to-use design tools, coupled with an unbeatable price to performance ratio, ViaCAD is a cost-effective choice for CAD designers everywhere.

5. BricsCAD

Manufactured by Bricsys Inc., BricsCAD offers a whole new world for those who venture beyond the AutoCAD®horizon. AutoCAD is a long-established piece of CAD software, utilized by many engineers but is now being replaced by Bricsys’ new BricsCad software. There’s a helpful comparison chart you can use to compare the two here.

AutoCAD has provided a rich tapestry of tools and services for a long time, but BricsCAD is its ‘upgraded’ sibling. Among its growing community of users, this software is best known for its feature-rich combination of 2D drawing and 3D modeling and cloud collaboration capabilities. If you’re looking for quality software, BricsCAD is it, but bear in mind that it sits at the more expensive end of software products.

6. Vectorworks

Vectorworks is manufactured by Nemetschek Vectorworks Inc. and is, in our eyes, rather expensive. Since 1985 they’ve served the architecture, landscape, and entertainment industries, drawing inspiration from the world around them and encouraging more than 650,000 designers who use their software to create experiences that transform the world.


7. SolidWorks Premium

With users calling SolidWorks Premium the ‘industry standard for 3D product development’, it’s easy to see why the software has made our list. SolidWorks offers mechanical CAD, design validation, product data management, design communication, and CAD productivity tools in one single package.

8. Onshape

Onshape is the first and only full-cloud 3D CAD system that lets everyone on a design team work together using any web browser, phone, or tablet. It was built with today’s engineers, designers and manufacturers in mind, giving them secure and simultaneous access to a single master version of their CAD data without the hassle of software licenses or copying files.

9. Bonus software: Duff-Norton’s 3D model downloads

Duff-Norton’s on-page software was actually one of the first in the industry to offer "Designs Online", a 2D/3D modeling page that allows you to download our Mechanical and Electromechanical Actuator models directly into your project.

Our models are offered in over 50 CAD formats resulting in greater accuracy and a significant reduction in design time for engineers. To explore this service, you can register here.

Turn to an expert for help

With an extensive choice of CAD software on the market, there is a lot of information to factor in when making a decision. From cost and usability to team experience and ease of use, it can be tough to source the right software that meets your needs.

For help on choosing a CAD software for your business, contact us here and speak with an expert.


As a leading engineering manufacturer of reliable industrial lifting and positioning products, Duff-Norton is comprised of individuals with in-depth industry experience. Articles authored by Duff-Norton belong to a collection of blogs written by product and application experts throughout the organization.

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