Choose the best Autodesk software for your project
Autodesk is a leader in CAD and 3D modeling software. With over 90 products to choose from, you might feel a little lost. That is why we prepared for you a list of Top 10 most popular 3D software by Autodesk. Which one fits your needs best? Let’s find out!
Different types of software
As we already mentioned Autodesk is very well known for its 3D modeling and CAD software. What is the difference? We dedicated a whole blog post to this topic, but as a summary, CAD software is always based on precise technical drawings for engineering purposes whereas 3D modeling is more free, like sculpting, aimed more for video game creators.
Autodesk didn’t stop just there. In their wide range of products, you can also find software dedicated especially for the creation of good renders, which can be highly beneficial for those who work on presentational models, for example of product concepts or architecture engineering.
Top 10 of Autodesk software
We will take a closer look at different products from Autodesk. Autodesk has software for everyone, no matter if you have no idea about 3D modeling or you’re a professional searching improvement for your workflow. We organized this list by the level of skills required to operate the software, so make sure you stick with us till the end of our list and you will see a wide path for our future 3D modeling skills!
We recently wrote about TinkerCAD as it also made our list of the easiest 3D software to use. TinkerCAD is a free, web-based app that allows you to build models starting with simple shapes. It is known to be intuitive and easy to learn.
As its name suggests, it is a CAD software. It is widely used by professionals in many industries. 3D models are based on 2D geometries, all with assigned dimensions. Autodesk AutoCAD is a very powerful software with a wide set of tools and plugins dedicated to specific industries, such as architecture, or mechanical. It is fairly easy to learn with online tutorials, however, keep in mind that is it very technical.
Maya can be considered the opposite software of AutoCAD. It provides artists, modelers, and animators with pretty impressive tools for 3D modeling, simulation, 3D animation with rigging, texturing and rendering. It allows for the creation of HD visual effects, photorealistic environments, design visualization, and characters. It is also capable of handling heavy and complex projects thanks to dedicated tools and support workflows.
3Ds Max, from our experience, seems to be a mix between Maya and AutoCAD. It is capable of creating product designs for 3D printing, however, they might not be as precise as designed in Autodesk AutoCAD. But if you’re not an engineer, 3Ds Max might be easier to adapt to than AutoCAD.
This 3D modeling software is also capable of high quality renders, content creation for games, environments, and effects for movies, 3D animations or simulating fluid behavior.
This CAD software is also a mix of different tools. It brings together industrial and mechanical design, simulation, collaboration and machining in one place. The creation of your 3D model starts with a technical drawing, however, Fusion 360 also gives you a choice of different modes, therefore also giving you powerful tools for different design variations.
In Autodesk Fusion 360 you can simulate different types of stress on the parts, digital prototyping, test fit, and motion, but also photorealistic renders and 3D animation if needed. Additionally, it has a set of tools dedicated to 3D printing your models.
We have used Fusion 360 on several occasions, for example in our 3D printed thread tutorial and pipe fitting tutorial, and you can see that Autodesk Fusion 360 is pretty straight forward. This software is getting more and more popular not only thanks to a wide range of tools, but also because of its user-friendly UI.
Mudbox is a 3D modeling software clearly designed for game designers, animators, filmmakers. This software allows for creating 3D characters and environments, highly detailed natural and organic shapes with great texturing. It is a great alternative to Maya and 3Ds Max when it comes to the price of the license.
If your 3D models require high quality, super realistic renders in complex environments, Arnold is the answer to your needs. This Autodesk software was designed just for that. It supports plugins for Maya, 3Ds Max and other 3D software to allow you to render highly detailed images thanks to advanced ray-tracing tools.
This is a very powerful software for architecture engineering which involves planning, designing, construction, building solutions, and infrastructure. Clearly aimed for architects and construction designers, Revit is capable of conceptual design; its 3D parametric modeling allows for detailed documentation, and can also provide high-quality 3D visualizations.
Another product from Autodesk, which is well known in the CAD software world. Inventor is designed especially for the production of mechanical parts. It is capable of both 2D and 3D design, as well as photorealistic renders. Autodesk Inventor has a great set of tools, some of which are aimed to decrease the weight of your design, which is crucial in automotive and aerospace manufacturing.
Autodesk is a leader for a reason. It keeps up with the latest 3D innovations and realizes it’s not only about 3D models staying in virtual reality. 3D technologies are constantly evolving and allow your 3D model to become a solid reality with 3D printing. This is exactly why Powermill was developed.
Dedicated to a growing industry of Additive Manufacturing, this 3D software allows you to apply strategies for 3- and 5- axis subtractive and additive manufacturing. Powermill claims to be an expert in CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) programming, allowing for the creation of molds, controlling 5-axis machining and programming CNC machine tools.
|TinkerCAD||3D modeling||Simple creations||Free||Doesn’t apply|
|AutoCAD||CAD||2D drawings, documentation, complex and large 3D models, mechanical parts||$1 610/ year||WindowsiOS|
|Maya||3D modeling||High quality renders, animations, simulations, texturing||$1 545/ year||WidowsiOSLinux|
|3Ds Max||3D modeling||Detailed 3D content for games, product visualizations, environments and effects for films||$1 545/ year||Windows|
|Fusion 360||CAD||Product design, engineering and simulating tests, CAM||$495/ year||WindowsiOS|
|Mudbox||3D modeling||3D design of characters, concepts, environments, content creation||$80/ year||WidowsiOSLinux|
|Arnold||Rendering||Renders of highly complex scenes, lightning||$630/ year(pack licenses available)||WidowsiOSLinux|
|Revit||CAD||Architectural designs, MEP engineering, structural and reconstruction design||$2 310/ year||Windows|
|Inventor||CAD||3D mechanical designs, sheet metal, electrical, tube and pipe designs, assemblies||$1 985/ year||Windows|
|Powermill||CAD||CAM programming, CNC machine optimization, 3- and 5- axis programming||Contact Autodesk for pricing||Windows|
*available free product trials
Which software do you choose?
As you can see we covered a wide range of 3D software. From TinkerCAD for absolute beginners, through professional CAD and 3D modeling software for game and film design, industrial design to powerful tools designed for CNC machining and Additive Manufacturing. Ask yourself, what are my needs? The table above listing the main applications of each software should help you to decide which Autodesk software is the best for you.
You can always start learning 3D modeling and CAD software with our free tutorials. From Autodesk software, we prepared for you Inventor, Fusion 360 and 3Ds Max tutorials. Don’t wait any longer, start 3D modeling today!
Whichever Autodesk software you choose, most of them allow for your 3D parts to be moved from virtual to solid reality. How? Thanks to 3D printing! If you have any questions about that, you can contact our 3D printing experts, who can advise you on 3D technologies and materials. When your 3D model is ready, it’s as easy as uploading your 3D file to our online 3D printing service!