CAD Apps for the Mac Platform?

There are a few, but... August 29, 2005

Can anyone comment on a good beginner/intermediate 3-D Cad program (from a woodworkers prospective) for Mac? I heard DesignCad 3D Max is excellent, but it isn't available in Mac. Perhaps it’s a program which won't break a woodworker’s bank, but is worth an investment? Any help is appreciated.

Forum Responses
(CAD Forum)
From contributor D:
We're a MAC shop, and use Macs for all the clerical, bookkeeping, and accounting. We even send and receive faxes on a Mac. However, for CAD we bit the bullet and purchased an $800 Dell machine. Compared to the cost of the CabinetVision and AutoCAD licenses we're running, the new computer was a cheap investment and we can use the same industry-standard software everyone else is. Still, I spend as much time fixing and administering that one PC as I do all the Macs in the office.

From contributor C:
I have been drafting on Macs for about 10 years and use Ashlar Vellum's Graphite and Xenon packages. Graphite is a 3d wire frame program and Xenon is a solids application. I have tried using other CAD programs but find Graphite is by far the most intuitive. Nonetheless there are several other highly recommended programs.

One is ArchiCad which is a full blown architecture package and another is VectorWorks. VectorWorks is considerably less expensive than either Ashlar's Xenon or Cobalt, and also far less than ArchiCad. Being a longtime user of the Ashlar interface I found it very difficult to master any of the competition's programs.

That said, as my company grew and I needed to hire a full time CAD technician, and we needed to interface seamlessly with architects, I too purchased a Windows machine and AutoCad LT. As a Mac user since the 1980's, it wasn't the cost that hurt.

From contributor A:

Does Autocad work with a Mac running soft PC or some other emulation software?

From contributor D:
Yes, we've successfully installed and run AutoCAD on a g3 laptop running Virtual PC and Windows 98. It wasn't fast. I don't have a version of Virtual PC that runs on the g5, but I bet performance would be a lot faster than it was on the laptop. Would it be acceptable – that depends on how often you use it, and what your patience is. It does work, though.

From contributor L:
I would suggest checking out vector works. It has versions for both Mac and PC. It reads Autocad files with no problem, is easier to learn and use than Autocad, and is less expensive. It has lots of features that Auto-cad doesn't have.

Also, there is a plug-in available tailored to the woodworking industry called Interior-cad. It makes drawing cabinets and even odd shaped ones a snap. It can also provide useable cutlists as well as much other nifty stuff. The price for Vectorworks and Interior-cad is less than a version of Auto-cad.

From the original questioner:
It looks as if Vectorworks is a little bit expensive. Perhaps I'm just not looking in the right places. Does anyone have any thoughts? Has anyone ever used or heard anything about GizmoLab's Design Intuition? It looks like a decent program, what do you think?

From contributor S:
PowerCadd by Engineered Software was my choice 15 years ago and I am very glad I made that choice. It is more powerful and easier to use than any other program I've seen.

From contributor N:
To the original questioner: If you are just looking to replace your T square and drafting board with a basic CAD app take a look at Cadintosh. It is made by Lemke Software, the same people that make Graphic Convertor. It is shareware and costs around $40 to register. The non registered version is very useable, so you can give it a good try. I've done quite a few drawings with it and it has worked well for me. You might also look at High Design , it looks interesting. At $140 it is affordable also.

I am primarily a Mac guy, and in fact I just bought an 14" iBook so I can mostly avoid the PC at work. But I have a PC at home to run Thermwood's eCabinets. If you take the time to learn it, it is a good program. I have designed a couple of galleys, nested the sheet goods and then built them. I have done a few other cabinets with it also. Version4 should be out in the next few weeks. It looks to be a big step and will do furniture as well as cabinets.

From contributor G:
Autocad used to be on the Mac platform, as well as others. The Windows platform had more sales money so they dropped the other platforms and stuck with Windows.

From contributor P:
Here is more on the intel/mac info. One of the code writers at Mathmatica (hardcore engineering/science program) was able make their program run on the Mac/Intel in two hours by only changing eight lines of their source code. On tech sites there are rumors that people have installed the leaked version of the developer intel osx version of tiger on to PCs and when installed on the Mac/Intel they were able to install windows programs. Also, Gates has ok'd Apple to let people run windows on the new Intel Macs.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor M:
I've been using GizmoLab's Design Intuition for over a year now. While it's still in its infancy, it is a very powerful program. Its main limitations are that it cannot do curved surfaces and/or rotations (yet - it will soon), but it's ease of use and other powerful capabilities more than make up for the limitations. I guess the biggest strength is the owner/programmer who answers questions very quickly and is very responsive to suggestions for the program. The owner is a programmer who is also a woodworker and he obviously has a love of both. It's a free download to try it.