Mechanical design is the process of conceiving, analyzing, and translating the materials, shapes, and dimensions of various components into concrete descriptions. It is a key factor in determining mechanical performance. When conducting mechanical design, various computer technologies and systems are required.

This article provides an overview of common mechanical engineering product design software and highlights the most commonly used software in mechanical design.

What is Computer-Aided Design (CAD)?

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) refers to the use of computers and their graphic devices to assist designers in their design work, typically relying on interactive computer systems with graphical capabilities as the foundation.

What is CAM?

CAM, meaning computer-aided manufacturing improves the precision of a manufacturing process. It involves the manufacturing of products or workpieces with the aid of a computer-controlled machine. Besides, CAM does this by converting design files into code. Furthermore, it communicates this code to a machine that performs manufacturing actions such as cutting, drilling, or milling using the instructions in the code.

Basic CAD Technologies

It primarily includes interactive technology, graphic transformation technology, surface modeling, and solid modeling technology.

  • In computer-aided design, interactive technology is indispensable. An interactive CAD system allows users and machines to exchange information promptly during the design process.
  • Graphic transformation technology primarily serves to connect the user’s coordinate system with the coordinate system of the graphic output device. It involves translation, rotation, scaling, and perspective transformations of graphics, all implemented through matrix operations.
  • Computer-aided design automation, also known as computer-aided design by the computer itself, aims to automate or semi-automate the design and development processes of the computer.

Basic Functions of CAD

First and foremost, CAD is a visual engineering drawing software. Many commands and operations can be performed through various means such as menu options and tool buttons. CAD offers extensive drawing and drawing assistance features, including solid drawing, key point editing, object snapping, annotation, bird’s-eye display control, etc. Its toolbar, menu design, dialog boxes, graphic preview during opening, information exchange, text editing, image processing, and graphic output preview provide great convenience to users in their drawing tasks.

The Uses of CAD/CAM Software

CAD has found widespread use in various fields, including architectural design, electronics and electrical engineering, scientific research, mechanical design, software development, robotics, the fashion industry, publishing, factory automation, civil engineering, CNC machining, Aluminum die casting, Aluminum extrusion and more.

Traditionally, CAD software systems generated a set of mechanical drawings that instructed factories on how to produce products, along with manufacturing techniques, materials, mold processing, and required tolerances. However, today, they do much more:

  • Create realistic renderings for internal demonstrations and marketing materials.
  • Directly import standard mechanical parts and/or decorative elements from databases of different suppliers.
  • Derive injection rapid tooling designs after determining the basic parameters of parts.
  • Assist in the design and simulation of sheet metal Fabrication parts, welding frames, and composite components.
  • Conduct stress and flexural analysis (FEA), simulate drop tests, and generate optimization suggestions based on Generative Design (GD).
  • Analyze mold flow for plastic injection molding.
  • Perform thermal, vibration, and aerodynamics analysis.
  • Analyze assembly motion and interference detection.
  • Conduct ergonomic analysis and possible 3D human body modeling.
  • Surface flattening for die-cut drawings based on 3D models.
  • Implement advanced geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) to convey design intent and optimize the manufacturing process.
  • Directly import 3D scan data for reverse engineering.
  • Prepare data for rapid prototyping

Ten Mechanical CAD/CAM Software

Autodesk Moldflow

This user-friendly software provides users with tools for simulating, evaluating, and optimizing design solutions. It can significantly reduce development costs and shorten product development cycles. This software has seen vigorous growth in the plastics industry and related sectors.”


This computer-aided design (CAD) software, developed by the American company Autodesk, is widely used in various fields, including the electronics industry, civil engineering and decoration, interior decoration, engineering drawing, and clothing manufacturing


This three-dimensional software, developed by the American company PTC, combines CAD, CAM, and CAE functionalities. It holds a significant position in the field of 3D modeling software, particularly playing a crucial role in product design. Currently, this software has released several major versions, including Pro/Engineer 2001, Wildfire, WildFire 2.0, WildFire 3.0, WildFire 4.0, and WildFire 5.0.


This three-dimensional design software, built on the Windows operating system, features a user-friendly interface. Currently, this software can address all user requirements in component design and provide customers with system-level large assembly design.

Unigraphics NX

This product engineering 3D software, developed by Siemens PLM Software in C language and released in 1969, is a powerful interactive CAD/CAM system. It provides users with digital modeling and validation capabilities and is currently the mainstream 3D application in the mold industry.


This software, which can be applied in various industries such as consumer goods, optical instruments, aerospace, computers, electronics, and automotive, is now part of the American company 3D Systems. Due to its excellent cost-effectiveness and the ability to generate safe and efficient CNC machining tool paths, among other advantages, it has become an essential software for large corporate manufacturing departments and mold manufacturing factories.


This is a CAD/CAM software developed by CNC Software Inc., based on the PC platform. It is known for its strong cost-effectiveness, powerful and stable modeling functions, and the ability to accurately reflect the actual situation during the machining process.

As a result, it has become an ideal CAD/CAM system for many small and medium-sized enterprises. Mastercam has relatively low system requirements, allowing users to achieve optimal results in various machining operations, including modeling design, CNC milling, CNC turning, or CNC wire EDM cutting.


CATIA is a significant component of the PLM collaborative solution developed by the French company Dassault Systèmes. It was introduced in 1999. Currently, this software covers various functions, including mechanical design, industrial design, managing digital prototypes, mechanical processing, analysis, and simulation. It is the most commonly used product development system with a digital prototype workflow.


This is a mechanical software that offers users a complete range of services, including product design, manufacturing, testing, and management. Currently, this software has been widely used in various industries such as aerospace, household appliances, light industry products, mold manufacturing, and automotive.


This is an automated CNC programming software developed by Planit, a UK-based company. It provides complete solutions for milling, turning, and mill-turn machining processes. Its data operations are similar to CAD, and it enables seamless data transfer. It is easy to learn and offers a wide range of machining options to meet various production needs. Edgecam provides comprehensive solutions for metal milling, metal turning, and mill-turn machining processes. To meet the specific requirements of the mold industry, Edgecam offers multiple machining options to address different machining needs. These include optimization processes for product machining, mold manufacturing, turning, composite machining, and high-speed machining.

Get Custom Quality Prototypes and Parts with KUSLA

The outcome of CAD/CAM software is the fabrication of a functional prototype and quality machining parts. Contact KUSLA Prototype, a leading rapid manufacturing company in China will help you realize your ideas from prototype to production.

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