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Autodesk software recommendations? Answered

I was going to ask a general question about software, but I was reminded that, as an educator, I can get free Autodesk software.

But, which do I choose?  Browsing the site, they all seem to produce the same things...

I have two general tasks: create files to run a lasercutter, and create files to be printed in 3d.

The latter is mainly for fun (I want to make a head-start on some files to print over the Summer), the former is longer term (by the time I get back to school in September, we will have a laser cutter of our own).

Is there one programme that does both?  Or would you recommend separate specific programmes?

(Free bonus question: I know Inkscape can be used to create laser-cutter files.  What format do I save them in?  .eps?)


Not an answer, a question: how can I get (FREE) and learn Autodesk? That is not a need for me, is a curiosity.

You can register as an educator at the Autodesk website.

Thanks Kiteman, but I have not not face to do that. Maybe self-educator...

There's an option to tick "home educated"...

Thanks Kiteman, I will try. Your cat food seems tasty, my she cat like it.


While AutoCAD will work, I would highly recommend Inventor over all other options. Inventor will export .stl files for 3D printing and vector files for use with laser cutters.

You can see step by step instructions on how to build parts in inventor on my YouTube channel and I would be happy to make some other videos to help you get a jump start. Just send me a message through my channel and let me know what you need.



I feel I have a lot to catch up. Wow. Laser cutting and 3 D printing.

AutoCAD is pretty easy to use for 2D at least, which is what you need for lazoring. It can do 3D as well, but I've never done any 3D work with it, so I can't give any kind of review. BUT it's very common and highly-supported, and about anything you would want to do has a tutorial somewhere online.

Autodesk Inventor is more optimized for 3D work, and is better for modeling assemblies of multiple moving parts.

Dunno about Inventor, but note that when you save a .dwg in the Education version of AutoCAD, it tags it and puts a watermark on the printed sheet. It doesn't tag .dxf or other filetypes. Just something to be aware of.

I knew about the watermark - the stuff I use it for will be either school-based or for instructables, and I would classify instructables as educational, so it's not a problem.

OK, AutoCAD for the lasering...

And the watermark goes with the file so if you give the file to anyone who runs regular autocad without the watermark it becomes a part of the new file and can only be removed by autodesk. Extremely irritating for the professional user.

For 3D I would use Autodesk's 123D and 123D Catch. Both are free, and easy to use, but currently only available for Windows users. (They've been saying for a year now that they will have a Mac version)...