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Recommendations for a CAD Program 2017

I know we have discussed this in the past but there have been new releases and such. With that said: recommendations for CAD programs? I spoke to Rhino - they mentioned Rhino Gold and Matrix Gemvision for jewelers - both owned by Stuller, btw.
Recommendation for one or the other?
Thank you in advance for your consideration in answering my question.

Hi Cameron,

Rhino gold and matrix are both plug-ins of rhino, and what they do is make your life easier, but at cost, so if you can afford go for matrix, but everything can be done with naked rhino, without plug in, so unless you are confident with all rhino command, I suggest to start to learn rhino first and then you will see if you need those plug in, plus there is a huge community and video about rhino, good luck

My favorite 3D modeling tools for organic forms (as opposed to hard-edge geometry, which lots of programs offer) are Geomagic Sculpt, Freeform, and Freeform Modeling Plus, which come with special articulated styluses that allow you to actually feel your models with force-feedback. If you’re used to using physical tools to model in clay, this is a similar experience, so the learning curve can be a lot shorter than with other CAD programs. These systems work well with 3D scans, allowing users to assemble various objects and modify them intuitively, save them as mesh files, and output them to 3D printers or CAM programs so they can be carved on a CNC machine. I liked the product so much I decided to resell it, offering a substantial discount to my customers. You can read more about this product line on my site, under Modeling.

Andrew Werby


When I was shopping for a Cad program, my brother gave me some good advice…“look for the software that has the largest user base, and most active online community, and best training and tech support…because you will need it…and, expect a 2-3 year learning curve!”

I decided to go with Matrix/ Rhino

In addition to training classes at their headquarters, Matrix has an online Video Academy and tech support package (paid subscription) that made made learning the software relatively pain free for me…your mileage may vary…

the McNeel/ Rhino forum is very active and informative as well.

Shopping for a CAD program was difficult for me, because I did not really know what I was trying to buy, or what features I wanted…because I knew nothing about CAD…

The Matrix sales team was very helpful as well. I was able to view some training videos, to get a feel for the program, and to see if it was something I felt confident about mastering. I recommend calling the matrix sales team, and getting some one on one feedback and videos…

I also scoured Youtube for training videos for the various CAD programs as well…

I also found the below links to be very helpful:

Just my 2 cents…


regarding my brothers advice and above comment, I would say, in my personal experience, with the benefit of the Online video academy, I was actually able to learn the basics very quickly…I think a 2 year learning curve is more for the time it takes to become really, really good…it depends on many factors I guess…that was just a general statement he was giving me…


Those are all great, however, a new contender that is currently little known for CAD is SpaceClaim. SpaceClaim is especially good at helping people create models for 3D printing because it lets one work directly with STL files in conjunction with solid modeling. No other software in the world does this! Need to move a hole or change its diameter on an STL file? No problem, just select it and move it or type in a new diameter as if it were a solid model. Need to perform boolean operations between an STL and a solid model? No problem, just treat the polygonal parts the same as you would the solid parts and do whatever you’d like with them. Take a look at this video to see what I mean. And take a look at this video too. These videos are only touching the surface of what SpaceClaim can do with polygonal models. If you’re wondering, ANSYS bought SpaceClaim a year or two ago so that’s why you see ANSYS in the name.

I’ve been doing 3D modeling for 30 plus years and I have used or tried out most of the software listed here (plus numerous others not listed), but I have yet to find anything better than SpaceClaim. SpaceClaim has only been around a few years so it’s not well known, but I’ll bet in a few more years it will be at the top of all the charts. SpaceClaim is so easy to use, so ingenious, so intuitive that you don’t even need to learn anything to start using it. You just start using it! HAHA! :smiley: So amazing! I’ll bet that within a few years SpaceClaim will become the number one 3D modeling software of choice. SpaceClaim was cofounded by Mike Payne who was the founder of Pro Engineer and SolidWorks, so that should tell you something right there. It was created to eventually be the end-all be-all of 3D modeling software for the 21st century.

That’s what I have to say about CAD software and another software package I use extensively is Zbrush. When it comes to digital sculpting Zbush is currently at the top of the pack. Zbrush is extremely difficult to learn, but it’s by far the best for doing digital sculpting. Over the last few years, I’ve been doing jewelry sculpture and these two pieces of software have been invaluable to me for doing that.