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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Low cost CAD options

 
May 14th, 2014 by Susan Smith

For many years now, low-cost CAD options have taken up the slack for an industry of potential users just getting into CAD, and those who may not need a full-fledged higher priced CAD program such as AutoCAD or Bentley MicroStation. All of these CAD options have mobile capabilities for tablet or smartphone users, either on both Android and iOS or on one of them.

GstarCAD

GstarCAD

GstarCAD8

In December  2013, an updated version of GstarCAD8 sports relevant new additions, commands reinstated and 100% functional, complemented with improvements and bugs fixed making this version more stable by delivering great performance in comparison with previous patches. GstarCAD, based in Beijing, is an AutoCAD knock off and for the cost, it’s one of the better products on the market today. It is also better suited for architecture than for mechanical design.

One of the greatest new additions to the new release is Digitizer Integration: This version has built-in a digitizer tablet command-driver. Users can execute TABLET command to calibrates, configures, and turns on and off an attached digitizing tablet. Digitizers are often used along with takeoff software because they can quickly measure, transfer and store quantities seen on a blue print. Additional benefits are found in features such as a dimension list, which can be saved and used a future estimate.

Another innovative addition is Xtra Grips for Objects Edition: Polyline as well hatch objects in this version now have extra grips to make editing them easier than before. Now users can stretch a polyline or hatch object by holding and dragging any extra grip to control its shape.

IMSI/Design’s TurboCAD

Most recently announced in March this year was the release of the new TurboCAD Deluxe version 21.

“TurboCAD Deluxe continues to offer unmatched price, performance, and value as a leader in 2D/3D CAD for home and small business professionals,” stated Bob Mayer, COO of IMSI/Design.  TurboCAD is more robust than most low-cost CAD options and has been applauded by users through its numerous iterations.

According to the press release, TurboCAD Deluxe 21 new and improved features include:

PRODUCTIVITY ENHANCEMENTS
•    New Edit Tool option “Node Filter” lets users select a subset of nodes on objects with a large number of nodes to optimize performance and ease of use.
•    New option “On/Off ‘Workplane by 3D object'” was added to the Edit Tool.

NEW DRAFTING AND DETAILING TOOLS
•    New Arrow Tool rapidly draws line arrows with options to specify the head and tail.
•    New Auto-Shapes allow users to quickly sketch out standard shapes (arc, line, box, etc.) and automatically create the precision shape.
•    Improved Area Units discretely specify Area Units from Linear Units.
•    New Custom Text Formatting for Dimensioning includes bolding, superscript, subscript, italics, support for multiple font scales, and multi-line.
•    New Delta Distance and Delta Move Angle(s) allow users to move a selected object simply by specifying distance and a direction.
•    New Rotate View with Viewport option synchronizes the rotation of viewports and views while retaining the possibility of discreet rotation.

•    New Move Dimension Text adds flexibility by allowing users to edit dimension text from inside the dimension tool using the local menu.+

INTEROPERABILITY UPDATES
•    Improved AutoCAD® (DWG/DXF) read/write filters for 2013/2014 files.
•    New SketchUp (SKP) read/write filter based on new 2013 APIs.

Availability and Pricing

TurboCAD Deluxe 21 has a SRP of $129.99 and is now available.  TurboCAD Designer 21, limited to the 2D features of TurboCAD, is also now available at $39.99.

ZWCAD+

From ZWSoft, another Chinese company, comes ZWCAD+. The following are some of the features of the newest release:

With its Associative Dimensioning ZWCAD+  creates dimensions which automatically adjust the measurement values, locations and the orientations along with the geometric objects. This intelligent annotation feature makes working easier and more efficiently.

Image – ZWCAD+ now allows you to insert or edit large raster images smoothly in various image formats such as BMP, TIFF, GIFF, JPG, PCX and TARGA.

Mleaders -Multileaders allow you to attach annotations to multiple leader lines. You can add a leader line to an existing multileader object or remove a leader very conveniently.
Hatch

Fills the enclosed area or objects with solid fill, gradient fill or predefined hatch patterns, improving the presentation of your drawing. ZWCAD+ supports .pat files from mainstream CAD software.

Revision Cloud -

Revision clouds highlight the areas of a drawing that contain revisions. You can select the style of the revision cloud, for example Normal or Calligraphy, as well as convert objects to revision clouds, such as circles, ellipses or polylines.

Summary

While there are many more low-cost CAD options on the market today, these three are used a great deal in the AEC market with success, and defray the cost of higher priced more popularized options.

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Categories: AEC, architecture, AutoCAD, Autodesk, construction, engineering, infrastructure, mobile, mobile printing, video

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