Since they’re both popular computer-aided design (CAD) tools, AutoCAD and Inventor often get grouped together in lists of best CAD programs. But although they share a lot of similar features, pitting AutoCAD against Inventor directly shows that there are quite a few differences.
AutoCAD and Inventor are both products by Autodesk, a company that’s been making design software for over twenty years. AutoCAD and Inventor were created to complement each other, so they’re not as much direct opposites as two sides of the same coin.
This article is designed to help you navigate those idiosyncrasies to figure out which suits your needs and style the best.
AutoCAD is a veteran CAD program. Its current iteration came on the market in 1982 and it quickly became the industry standard since it runs on PCs, unlike its predecessors which all required professional-grade machinery (such as mainframes) to work. AutoCAD brought CAD to the masses, and earlier this year it released its 34th edition.
AutoCAD is geometry-driven. That means it uses geometric designs as the basis for its creations, which you can use for 2D drafts and 3D models. It’s generally thought of as a program for people who design and create new objects. Here are a few details that make it beloved by the design and engineering communities:
Some argue that AutoCAD has become the industry standard simply because it was first and has stayed around so long. For all its widespread adaption and extensive range of professional CAD support, AutoCAD does have its downsides:
Inventor is a program with a much narrower focus: Digital prototyping and simulation. It’s manufacturing-driven, meaning its users are looking to get an experience as close to the real world as possible to know how their objects will perform.
Although it does cover less ground than AutoCAD, Inventor is no less popular with those who benefit from its features:
As the younger sibling of the two programs, Inventor hasn’t had the time to evolve into an industry-standard giant like AutoCAD. It’s also got other own flaws that may trip you up when you try to use it as an AutoCAD substitute:
The question of which tool is better really comes down to what you need your CAD program to do.
Both are widely-recognized as leading software tools in their realms, so either way, you’ll be working with a quality program.
If you want to explore these tools further, check out our topics dedicated to each:
(Lead image source: josemiguelmendez.com)
License: The text of "AutoCAD vs Inventor: Autodesk CAD Software Compared" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.