10 free online CAD resources worth bookmarking
These days, CAD users have more educational resources at their fingertips than ever before with little more than a quick Google search. But while online community forums and indexed help guides are indispensable resources for the modern CAD user, few mediums are better for communicating new concepts than video, and for good reason; although pictures and diagrams are great for learning new principles or workflows, nothing beats watching a fellow CAD user get from A to B in real-time.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of these excellent (and free!) educational resources come from the software companies themselves –– whereas online learning hubs charge a premium to partake in more organized courses. That said, these free resources are invaluable in the designer's toolkit and serve as springboards for learning new concepts and staying on top of your CAD game –– regardless of which software is used.
If you find yourself wanting quick and snackable content to help level up your CAD hustle, we've rounded up the Top 10 free video providers here for you. While there are many additional resources out there from many different creators, these were chosen based on both the quality and quantity of material as well as the relevancy for today's CAD user.
The Official Onshape Channel (Onshape)
In this video: learn the process of creating and editing parts in Onshape.
Unsurprisingly, the best reference videos for this CAD newcomer come from none other than the company itself –– thanks in no small part to the team's understanding of the value of quality educational content. Whether you're a new user or have been using Onshape since beta, you won't go wrong with adding this one to your toolkit.
Cadjunkie (SolidWorks and MODO)
In this video: The first part of a semester-long industrial design SolidWorks class taught by O'Hern.
When it comes to creating content that's both informative AND entertaining, industrial designer Adam O'Hern is a master of delivery. With a solid background in both SolidWorks and MODO, he has a number of both paid and free content worth checking out –– even if it is a couple of years old.
SolidWorks Zen (SolidWorks)
In this video: An advanced SolidWorks tutorial teaching students how to model a disk brake.
The name of the channel says it all –– need we say more? With high-quality and insightful video content posted regularly for both beginners and masters, adding this one to your bookmark folder is a no-brainer for better navigating your path to SolidWorks enlightenment.
Lars Christensen (Autodesk Inventor and Fusion 360)
In this video: The 5 fundamental things that a beginner should know about Fusion 360
Lars is well-known in the Autodesk community and has shared his CAD know-how at dozens of industry events. As an award-winning design & manufacturing expert, his ability to quickly and clearly communicate concepts ranging from quick tips to more advanced in-depth guides is among the best out there for Autodesk CAD/CAM users.
The Official Autodesk Fusion 360 Channel (Fusion 360)
In this video: The Top 5 keyboard shortcuts for Fusion 360 users.
Like Onshape, the marketing and education teams at Autodesk are well-aware of the importance of high-quality educational content for today's CAD users. With a deep understanding of the design process as a whole, the Fusion 360 team has covered a myriad of topics here ranging from design stories (such as the story behind a folding kayak) to more snackable quick tips including keyboard shortcuts and workflow hacks.
GoEngineer (SolidWorks, 3D Printing & Simulations)
In this video: Using a Flow Simulation to keep electronics cool.
With one of the largest publicly available video learning libraries on the web for CAD users, GoEngineer is more than deserving of a place on this list. For those who have always wanted to learn how to get the most of simulation and analysis tools in SolidWorks, look no further.
Steve Choryan (Pro/Engineer)
In this video: Learn how to add a pattern along a curve.
Unlike Onshape, SolidWorks and Fusion 360, users of PRO/E may have a little bit more difficulty finding quality free educational video content. That said, it does exist and Steve Choryan is a PRO/E ninja with valuable content worth taking a look at.
RHINO TUTORIALS (Rhino 3D)
In this video: Learn how to how to use the Delete Hole command to remove a hole from objects or surfaces quickly.
For all you Rhino users out there, plenty of content exists online for everything ranging from the basics to getting the most out of Grasshopper. For both quick tips as well as longer tutorials for leveling up your Rhino workflow, you can't go wrong with this one.
Inventor Tutor (Autodesk Inventor)
In this video: An overview of the part design process in Inventor.
The name of this channel is pretty self-explanatory –– and while the videos are slightly dated, the amount of fundamental Autodesk Inventor and general CAD-related resources here is some of the most thorough available online.
CATIA Tutorials (CATIA)
In this video: An example of a Surface Machining simulation in CATIA
Similar to PRO/E, CATIA tutorials aren't as common as many other CAD packages. That said, CATIA Tutorials offers videos explaining the design process from end-to-end including getting started with part design all the way through to CAM and Simulation lessons. If you're a CATIA user, you can't go wrong with this one.
Of course, there's no way we could have included all of the best resources out there. That said, this is a pretty solid list for starting your own library of free CAD education resources. Did we miss somebody? Do you have any recommendations that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments and we'll add it to the next list.
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About the author: (Simon Martin)
Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision.
All posts by Simon Martin