So as you know, I was on the search for a reasonably priced CAD product to use for my projects and possibly flow into some freelance. I've found two great such tools that I like so far.

So my choice for now has been Autodesk Fusion 360. As an enthusiast, student, or even start-up, you can get a 1 year subscription for free! If, on the other hand, you are profiting from use of 360, you can pay a subscription that is $300 a year. They are releasing a new version soon that also includes FEA called ultimate, but buying before Dec. 6 will yield a grandfathered account that received ultimate for the price of the regular. Good deal, I'd say.

Speaking of FEA, I have done a bit of testing with an affordable software called Mecway.

Advertisement

Mecway costs $100 as a regular user, and $350 for a commercial license. It doesn't have the greatest graphics, but it seems to work well. The trial version limits you to 1000 nodes (not much at all), so I took a 1"x 1" L-shaped .25" thick piece of steel in solidworks, saved as a STP, and ran it in the full solidworks simulation software to a pretty accurate degree.

Taking the same model and parameters, I imported the STP part into Mecway to see how it compares. With massive elements for the mesh, the displacement was calculated out to less than a 1% difference compared to Solidworks Simulation. Von Mises stress was a bit off, but not so bad. Especially given the element sizes were absolutely huge to fit the trial limits.

Advertisement

Either way, given reviews and my own tests, I'm pretty sure you can grab satisfactory results through Mecway with a limited budget.

Great tools, great prices. Let me know if you have any questions ya'll.