4 ways to build your own CAD application
We all know the benefits of CAD applications but if you are a specialist in engineering domain or allied areas like architecture, you may want more from your CAD applications as your business needs are different. You are probably looking for industry specific applications that offer the features, menus, commands relevant to your needs or industry or you would prefer to build your own customized CAD application that will convert the general usefulness of software into a particular one tailored to meet your expectations, such as analyzing huge data sets and presenting them into data graphically or automation of complex CAD tasks.
ProtoTech has been associated with CAD/ CAM space for more than ten years and we have been offering bespoke CAD application to clients across verticals and geographies. We have been asked several times by our clients about building a new CAD application. Based on our experience and understanding we would like to suggest software which you can use to design your own CAD application with functionalities that match your specific needs.
1. AutoCAD OEM is a platform for developing bespoke applications that require CAD functionality and which will help you scale up rapidly. Techsoft3D is re-seller of AutoCAD OEM. It is not a free product but it will significantly speed up the development process.
As a platform, AutoCAD OEM has all the tools and features needed to help you develop cost effective CAD applications. Some of its features include using ‘no –license’ version of AutoCAD OEM for debugging and quick testing while other features include –
- Creating brand specific look and feel with splash screens and icons, drop down menus,
- Adding features which are relevant to your target customers
- Developing a customized user documentation and integrated help file system.
- Creating the installer and packaging for shipping
- Using inbuilt security mechanisms to encrypt against copying and reverse engineering.
- Designing functionality with only requisite features and menus.
2. FreeCAD: If you want to keep cost to a minimum, you might want to explore option of FreeCAD. FreeCAD is based on technologies such as OpenCascade. It is a good starting point.
FreeCAD is an Opensource 3D CAD modeler which is useful for creating real life objects of any size mainly in mechanical engineering and product design. However it has applications across related areas like architecture and other engineering specialties and its features are similar to Catia or Solidworks. It is based on open source technologies like OpenCascade, Coin3D which has an API compatible with Open inventor 2.1, Qt – a well-known cross platform application and Python.
As an industry specific feature -based parametric modeler, its architecture is flexible and permits you to add new functionality without affecting the core system and allows you to modify your design by going back into model history and changing its parameters. As an open source modeler it is highly customizable, scriptable and extensible. It comes with many 2D components for drawing 2D shapes or extracting design details from 3D models. It can be used as a library by other programs and runs across windows, Linux/Unix and Mac OSx systems. Documentation is available on the site.
- Full GUI application based on QT framework and Multiplatform capability.
- It is also possible to import or export to standard formats as FreeCAD reads open file formats like STEP, IGES, OBJ, and IFC.
- Workbench concept in FreeCAD helps to keep the workspace organized and responsive by displaying only those tools which are required for the task.
- Using FreeCAD you can create simple lines, wires or rectangles or use topological components like vertices, edges, wires or planes in 3D space.
- Other features include built –in scripting framework with python interpreter and built-in Python console with syntax highlighting, autocomplete and class browser.
3. QCAD: If your focus is just 2D, you might want to explore option of QCAD. QCAD is another useful open source CAD application for creating 2D drawings like building plans, interiors, mechanical parts or schematics and diagrams. It works across platforms and provides wide range of features and plugins for 2D drafting. It has in-built user interface and is so user friendly that anyone can work with it. Documentation is available on the site. QCAD/ CAM can export CAD drawings to various formats used in CAM and it comes with variety of features such as:
- Printing to scale and on multiple pages.
- Over 40 construction tools and over 20 modification tools.
- Construction and modification of points, lines, arcs, circles, ellipses etc.
- Entity selection tools, measuring tools and a library of more than 4800 CAD Parts.
- ECMAScript scripting interface.
35 CAD fonts and support for TrueType fonts.
4. Assemble individual components: You might want to assemble individual components to create your own CAD application. To do that we suggest the following components:
- Visualization engine: Hoops visualize, Redway3D, Eyeshot, VTK(Free).
- Geometry kernel: ACIS, Parasolid, C3D, OpenCascade(Free)
- UI framework: QT
- Interoperability toolkit: Hoops exchange, Datakit, Spatial Interop, Teigha, RealDWG.
Do let us know your experience with your CAD application in the space below