Top 10 Solidworks alternatives in 2021

Top 10 Solidworks alternatives in 2021

Posted By on Jan 8, 2020 |

Solidworks is definitely a top-shelf professional product for mechanical engineering projects. It is a very powerful CAD software providing you with complex 3D modeling tools, simulations, assemblies, and manufacturing solutions. However, you might be looking for Solidworks substitutions either for a lower price or an easier learning curve. Today we will introduce you to the top 10 alternatives to Solidworks.

Why would you look for Solidworks alternatives?



Solidworks is one of the leaders in 3D industries. It is a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) software for professionals. With Solidworks, you can design mechanical parts, complex machinery assemblies, welding structures and so on. You can also run various simulations in order to produce the most efficient parts. It also offers personalized packages of tools for different industries such as electrical, product configuration or technical communication.


As amazing as Solidworks sounds, it comes with a high price. Not only might the costs of buying Solidworks license scare you away (from $3995 to $7995), but also you need a powerful computer to run this software. Additionally, Solidworks can be used with Windows and is not supported for iOS.


Solidworks is also not a great software for beginners. Unless you are certain that you will start mechanical engineering or technical 3D modeling career, you probably don’t want to learn Solidworks. For professional software, Solidworks is known to be user-friendly and to have an intuitive UI, but it might be still overwhelming if you’re new to 3D CAD design and just starting to get to know it.


However, if you’re curious and passionate about learning CAD software, but don’t want to encumber your computer and budget, there are quite a few solutions for you! Let’s get started with our Top 10 Solidworks alternatives!


The best Solidworks substitutions





Level: from beginners to professionals

Platform: Windows, iOS, Linux

Price: free


FreeCAD is one of the most popular alternatives to Solidworks. It is open-source parametric software with a great community working on improving its features and helping other users. This CAD software gives you the most popular 3D modeling tools such as booleans, extrude, etc. But it also offers a large number of dedicated tools called modules. They include technical sketching, robot simulation tooling, rendering, architecture, and mechanical machining modules.





Level: from beginners to professionals

Platform: browser version, desktop version for Windows, iOS

Price: free on the web, desktop version from $119 to $1199


This 3D modeling software is very well known by industry experts. It is primarily used for architecture, interior design, or landscape architecture, but also engineering projects and video games. SketchUp works with both 2D and 3D. You first create a 2D sketch and then extrude it by pulling or pushing options. It is very user-friendly and intuitive. SketchUp has an easy learning curve, but will also provide you with professional texturing and lighting options for photorealistic renders and animations. 


Autodesk AutoCAD



Level: intermediate and professionals

Platform: Windows, iOS

Price: $1610


AutoCAD is a highly professional CAD software, where you start with a 2D drawing to produce 3D models. It will provide you with customized tools for mechanical engineering projects. The results of your 3D modeling will be precise and accurate allowing you to produce technical documentation of your project. AutoCAD is mainly used in the construction, mechanical engineering, and architectural industries.





Level: from beginners to professionals

Platform: browser version

Price: free version for hobbyists, professional version $1500- $2100


Yet another engineering-grade CAD software. OnShape will provide you with advanced tools to produce 2D drawings, complex assemblies, and automate your workflows. What makes this 3D modeling program stand out is that you work online. This is an especially efficient solution for teams collaborating on one project. The changes are applied in real life which saves you and your engineering team a lot of time and problems between exchanging files and consulting the project.


Autodesk Fusion 360


fusion 360

Level: from beginners to professionals

Platform: Windows, iOS

Price: free student license, otherwise $60/ month, $495/ year, $1335/ 3 years


Fusion 360 is an integrated CAD, CAM, and CAE software. This 3D modeling program is well known for its user-friendliness and pleasant UI. It has some pretty impressive CAD tools to produce highly precise 3D models, enabling rapid prototyping and allowing you to carry out simulations and prepare your project for manufacturing. Fusion 360 is definitely great for mechanical engineering and product development purposes. 


Autodesk Inventor


Autodesk Inventor

Level: from intermediate to professionals

Platform: Windows

Price: free student license, otherwise $1985/ year


The main purpose of Autodesk Inventor is to allow you to design complex mechanical systems, analyze them and prepare them for manufacturing. The package includes 3D modeling, sheet metal design, tube and pipe design, and electrical system design. You will be provided with advanced simulation tooling and much more.





Level: beginners

Platform: Windows, iOS, Linux

Price: free


SolveSpace is open-source CAD software. It is simple and easy to learn. You can use both 2D drawings and 3D modeling tools to produce technical and precise parts. It gives quite a few exporting options, and you can prepare your model for water jetting, laser cutting and 3D printing. SolveSpace might look simple, but it has some interesting tools such as mechanism design to simulate how the device would work.





Level: from beginners to professionals

Platform: iOS

Price: free up to 2 designs, pro version $240/ year


Shapr3D is a bit of an exception because, in fact, it is a mobile app. However, it is still pretty powerful and capable of fairly complex CAD design. It is definitely an interesting solution for engineers and designers who keep mobility at work. Your files will be compatible with desktop CAD software such as Solidworks, Rhino, Catia, Fusion 360 or Inventor.





Level: from intermediate to professionals

Platform: Windows, iOS

Price: $995


This 3D modeling software stands out for providing you with plenty of operations. From accurate technical tools to free-form 3D modeling and 3D animations, you get a wide spectrum of 3D solutions. Rhino prides itself on being easy to learn, fast and highly precise. As an online 3D printing service, we have first-hand experience of Rhino and we can certainly recommend it.


Solid Edge


solid edge

Level: professionals

Platform: Windows, iOS, Linux

Price: free fro teachers and students, otherwise $100- 420/ month or $900- 3940/ year


Solid Edge, a product of Siemens, is actually very similar to Solidworks. However, it made it to our Top 10 Solidworks alternatives list as it introduces a different take on CAD modeling. In contrast to parametric modeling, with Solid Edge, you will be using synchronous technology, which allows you to edit elements of an assembly without the risk of misfunctioning of the whole structure.


Which software is your alternative to Solidworks?

As you can see, there are quite a few alternatives to Solidworks. Whether you are a professional or just a beginner, you can benefit from CAD software for free or with a different take on it such as a mobile app. Hopefully, with our article, you got a better understanding of CAD programs and an idea of good Solidworks alternatives.


Do you already know how to 3D model? Don’t wait any longer to start 3D printing your models! With an online 3D printing service like Sculpteo, it’s as easy uploading your 3D file and it will be delivered straight to your doors.


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