Budget CAD, No Subscription Required

Corel has been around a long time. The Canadian software company’s CorelDRAW software, introduced in 1989, was one of the first graphics programs available for Windows. More recently, Corel has acquired numerous programs in markets including design, illustration, photo editing and video editing.

The company recently released CorelCAD 2017, the sixth version of its 2D/3D CAD software. CorelCAD is built using the ARES CAD kernel from German developer Graebert. That same CAD engine powers Graebert’s own ARES Commander and Dassault Systèmes’ DraftSight software.

CorelCAD is positioned as a low-cost alternative to AutoCAD and uses DWG as its own native CorelCAD file format, specifically the R2013 DWG format used by all versions of AutoCAD from 2013 through 2017.

CorelCAD 2017 adds a new centerline command. When you switch to its Drafting and Annotation workspace, its interface looks much like AutoCAD. (Source: Digital Engineering)

When you first start CorelCAD, the program displays its “classic” user interface that includes pull-down menus and a host of toolbars with icon-only buttons docked around the perimeter of screen. But as soon as you switch to the “Drafting and Annotation” or “3D Modeling” workspaces—equivalent to similarly-named workspaces in AutoCAD—CorelCAD changes to a ribbon interface quite similar to that of AutoCAD.

Although CorelCAD doesn’t include every function found in AutoCAD, the list of missing features has gotten smaller. For example, the program’s Quick Input feature—nearly identical to AutoCAD’s dynamic input—shows commands and options adjacent to the cursor.

CorelCAD also offers some 3D modeling capabilities, which have not been significantly updated in the latest release. For example, you can create primitives such as solid boxes, wedges, cylinders and spheres. There are also tools to create some solid mesh objects, such as ruled, revolved and tabulated meshes. But CorelCAD lacks tools for creating mesh primitives and the program has no surface modeling capabilities. You can perform Boolean operations such as union, subtract and intersect to combine 3D objects, but you cannot use grips to change the size or shape of objects.

CorelCAD also supports other industry-standard formats, including SVG, ACIS and SAT, enabling users to import files from other CAD programs. You can also export to PDF and include PDF files as underlays, but you cannot yet import PDF geometry into a CorelCAD drawing.

CorelCAD 2017 is also available as a mobile application for Android tablets and smartphones. (Source: Digital Engineering)

There remains a long list of AutoCAD features not available in CorelCAD, such as sheet sets, dynamic blocks and model documentation. But at $699, CorelCAD is much less expensive than AutoCAD or even AutoCAD LT. The fact that your CorelCAD purchase gets you a perpetual license may also be very attractive. AutoCAD is now available only on a subscription basis, whereas when you buy CorelCAD, your license never expires.

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