I have just bought a 3D printer. I need advice on CAD software. I took an architectural drafting course in high school where we used TurboCAD, but I have not used anything else since. Is that still around? Are there better options out there?
For 2D CAD, pretty much everyone nowadays uses AutoCAD. You’re only the second person I’ve ever heard of who used TurboCAD.
AutoCAD itself isn’t very good for 3D, but the same company makes a whole suite of other design products, some of which are 3D. Most of them are either free for an educational license (which is easy to qualify for, but you have to have at least some sort of connection with education) or super-expensive for a commercial license.
There are also, however, a lot of completely free options available. AutoDesk also owns TinkerCad, which is very easy to learn, and is what I use for all of my designs. I’ve also heard good things about Google SketchUp, but I’ve never tried that one, myself.
Oh, and since this is asking for subjective recommendations, it’ll fit better in IMHO. Moving.
I use Tinkercad for most simple things, and SolidWorks for more complicated designs, mostly because it’s freely available to me through work. Also, for parametric designs, especially for modifying existing ones that you’ll find out there, get the free (and fun!) OpenSCAD.
Solidworks and Pro/Engineer are both pretty robust for 3D CAD, but they are not free. Worth using if your school already has them, though.
Autodesk Fusion 360 is free for personal (non-commercial) and “startup” (<$100k / yr revenue) businesses. I haven’t done much with it yet but it seems pretty powerful.
I’ve used FreeCAD and it’s OK, but it’s not as robust or powerful.
Actually, AutoCAD is pretty good for 3d, it is just a little overkill for a hobbyist. If you are creating more technical models, then I would recommend Rhinoceros 3d. It has 3d abilities much better than AutoCAD and can import and export a wide range of other formats. A cheaper, easier program would be Moi 3d. If money is an issue, get Blender for free. It is a difficult program to learn, but it is well suited to 3d models of all sorts, from the technical to the organic. For the price of free, everyone should have a copy installed.