Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3D animation software is used in FIRST Tech Challenge by teams to design and visualize complex systems prior to manufacturing. There are many software options for CAD and there’s no way to list them all. Some software is provided free of charge, some software is provided for a fee, and some require subscriptions. However, many organizations provide free access to “premium” CAD software to FIRST teams.
When looking for a CAD package, consider what computers the software will run on. Some CAD packages are desktop solutions and require a fairly competent computer with ample resources to run. Some CAD suppliers also provide cloud-based tools, which move the processing load onto cloud servers - these solutions often merely require an internet-connected computer with a web browser.
Here are a few tools commonly used by teams:
Software for Beginners
Autodesk TinkerCAD (free) (desktop)
FreeCAD (free) (desktop)
Software for Intermediate Users
Autodesk Fusion 360 (Free to FIRST teams) (desktop)
Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE (Free to FIRST teams) (cloud)
PTC OnShape (Free to FIRST teams) (Cloud)
Trimble SketchUp (Free plans available) (desktop)
Software for Professional Users
Autodesk Inventor (Free to FIRST teams) (desktop)
Dassault Systemes Solidworks (Free to FIRST teams) (desktop)
PTC Creo (Free to FIRST teams) (desktop)