Coming from a programming background, I love OpenSCAD. It’s just simple enough that I think I can easily do what I want, and powerful enough that I can do anything with it.
Unfortunately it’s usually more difficult than I expected, and when you start using nested loops to define polyhedron vertices, you should probably be using other software.

The main thing I love about it is the ability to define global constants that can be changed later. If done correctly, you can design a part first and take measurements later.


I like to own my own stuff and run my software locally, so the cloud stuff isn't really all that appealing to me.

I'd like to try Fusion 360, but I'm primarily on Linux, and they don't offer a Linux client and for some reason it doesn't seem to work in Wine.

FreeCAD is okay, but I keep running into the topological naming bug, which is frustrating to work around. CAD Sketcher is nice, but doesn't have a lot of features found in other CAD packages.

Recently been into OpenSCAD, I have software development experience and some Computer Science background, so it's been really nice for me to work with. My biggest problem so far has been performance when telling it to "render" more complex models.


I like the community edition of Solid Edge (2023 version). The conversion to .stl seems very solid, and is done locally (not sent to a server somewhere). The only minor negative is that I have to do my versioning manually. The Siemens/Mentor documentation is OK, but there are lots of tutorial on the internet.
I started my 3D printing hobby with Autodesk Fusion, then tried FreeCAD, and have finally decided on Solid Edge -- the UI was easier for me to understand than FreeCADs, and the conversion to STL is done locally. All of these are much easier to use than the microwave/RF physical design programs I had been using at work, so I may have a higher tolerance for UIs than some :-)

LordofCandy avatar

Freecad for most of my work. It took an adjustment period coming from Fusion but the community is great and the development is going at a good clip. Autodesk continuously changing their hobby model and if you cnc they gimped us hard on toolpathing so we need healthy alternate communities that are open.


I use the RealThunder branch of FreeCAD because I didn't like the boiling-the-frog changes that were being made to the free tier of Fusion 360. It is already good enough for my needs, and new features are getting added frequently, e.g. an offset tool for sketches and the ability to select regions on faces to extrude.

Voyajer avatar

I'm currently using Fusion360 in a windows VM. I'm hoping the CAD Sketcher addon for blender takes off so I can swap over to it.


I'm currently using OnShape (free edition) and to be honest, I love it. On the rare occasions where I have no clue how achieve something it's very easy to find too many videos showing the how.

I would like give Fusion 360 a "proper" try but each time I load it up and then look at the limitations, I just get put off.

I'm not sure that even if I had the money I'd pay for OnShape. AutoDesk have great products but I find it very difficult to like them and their view of hobbyists.


I've mostly switched from Fusion to Onshape. Fusion does have features Onshape doesn't have, but most of them are beyond the needs of someome designing models for 3D printing.

Onshape seems to respect their users, and Autodesk treats you like shit. Fusion has all sorts of logic errors that cause it to perform terribly or crash. And it still has all sorts of weird DPI display issues.

So, I corroborate your impressions. I don't think you have to give Fusion a fair shake, your impression is spot-on.

rasterweb avatar

I recommend OpenSCAD for people like me. It's parametric, open source, text based, code based, no cloud, no subscription, no corporate bullshit. I've got thousands of .scad files, some over 10 years old, and I can open them all.

Flaky_Fish69 avatar

I've used OpenSCAD for a fair number of things. The issue I have with it is importing airfoils is... not easy. but it being scripted is nice- the files are small, it runs light, and you can program a lot of if-thens to abort compiling if the parameters go too far out of whack.

I want to learn freecad again now that they're adding simulation to it.


... Find a copy for Autodesk 123d. It is Autodesk but they don't want you to use it.. it's local (not online) and it just works

Inamin avatar

Definitely fusion. I had no trouble learning fusion with no tutorials for the basics. ie draw, extrude etc. I loaded up freeCad yesterday and had no idea what to do. this is my current little project designed in fusion.



I really liked fusion360 the only problem is they keep changing licensing. All of my experience is as a hobbyist so it really is a pain when they cripple my cnc or limit the number of projects. Who knows they might start charging for colors or something crazy like Adobe.

I wish i would have started with onshape or freecad. Also I think solidworks is extremely discounted for EAA members


Onshape is really not hard to pick up coming from Fusion 360

Inamin avatar

totally agree. I do my hobby work under a work funded fusion account. If I didn't have paid fusion, I'd probably persevere with freecad or use onshape. I liked using onshape - it's pretty similar to fusion from my experience. I haven't tried tinkercad yet. TBF the charging for colours was a pantone thing. What shits me with fusion is if you want to render an animation you still have to pay for it to be rendered in the cloud even with a paid subscription. use case is pretty limited but it would be a nice thing to play around with, especially given most home computers are more than powerful enough to render at home.


I have a preference for Autodesk Fusion360 for many reasons, and the new integrated 3D printing capabilities have really improved to the point that I can send ready to print files directly to my Ender.


I've used Onshape a bit and it is nice. Free accounts files are posted publicly, but to me that isn't a huge deal.

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