3D CAD Programs for the Mac

Most programs on Windows have an alternative available on the Mac with the notable exception of CAD/CAM programs; there are relatively few popular CAD/CAM programs that run on OSX.

The list below is a good starting point for Mac-friendly 3D CAD programs:

OnShape

OnShape (Free - $80/Month)- OnShape is a new cloud-based CAD program from the same team that created Solidworks. It runs completely in the browser so it runs on PC, OS/X or even an iPad. There’s a range of pricing options and for many users, it’s totally free.

solidThinking

http://www.solidthinking.com/ (Call them for pricing) solidThinking offers a number of CAD programs that seem to be very powerful. They seem to have a business model where you contact them for demos and pricing so they may only be an option if you’re really comitted to learning more about their products.

Via Cad

http://www.punchcad.com/ ($99) Via CAD is a very capable 2D/3D CAD program that uses a “real” CAD kernel and it capable of creating good parts for relatively little money.

Sketchup

http://sketchup.com/ ($500 for Pro or Free for Standard) Sketchup is a very easy-to-use CAD program that scales well from tiny parts up to complete buildings. If you don’t have a lot of CAD experience, then you may find this to be a gentle introduction to the whole process.

One thing to note- only the Pro version is able to export an STL file for use in CNC applications. There are plugins available for free that add this function to the free version. Googling “Sketchup STL Plugin” should give you a list of the options that are currently available.

FreeCAD

https://www.freecadweb.org/ (Free) FreeCAD is a totally free and open-source parametric CAD package. Many of the open-source CAD/CAM options are a little rough because they are not incredibly popular so they don’t get as much development attention as more popular open-source programs.

That being said, FreeCAD is worth a look if you want a parametric CAD program that doesn’t have huge maintenence fees (like many do) or risk having the price terms changed in the future (like Inventor Fusion).