Skip to content or navigation

INDEX 02: CAD: Multi-disciplinary

Multi-disciplinary apps mean CAD apps of a generalist nature or apps broad enough to cover in detail two or more major industry sectors. Nearly all the macOS CAD apps here can address both MCAD sectors and AEC sectors but some less than others.


THE MAC PLATFORM has a growing list of general CAD applications useful for many types of fields and disciplines. The list below is in alphabetical order.

Here are three key multi-disciplinary apps we want to draw your attention to.

Some Notable Multi-disciplinary Mac CAD Apps

When it comes to multi-disciplinary CAD apps we mean those that can be used across AEC, MCAD and CAID (computer-aided industrial design) or product design CAD systems. With the emphasis on the way things are being made at the present time, with additive manufacturing, 3D printing and simulation and digital prototyping, there should be a focus on tools that touch these points.

Ashlar-Vellum’s Graphite is one of the more interesting CAD packages in this list. A veteran in the market, it features Ashlar-Vellum’s innovative user-interface, it features advanced equation-driven parametrics, a BOM, output for CAM and 3D printing, and a Smartwall tool for easy floor-plan making. Though its strength is not so much in AEC, the application excels as a versatile generalist CAD package.

It would be remiss to not spotlight Autodesk AutoCAD for Mac. The giant of the global CAD market, its return to the Mac platform was uniquely covered in features in the past. While not a complete parity of features to its Windows sister app, AutoCAD for Mac and the LT version offer a complete professional and versatile environment for all types of CAD projects. And the company has been aggressive in adopting Apple’s macOS updates with unique features like Touch Bar support.

01 – Ashlar-Vellum’s Graphite is a legend in the Mac CAD industry and one with staying power.

02 – AutoCAD for Mac offers diversity in capabilities in full and LT versions.

03 – HighDesign offers a powerful CAD package at entry-level prices wrapped in a gorgeous user-interface.

In a lower edge of the market, HighDesign is a stunningly beautiful application that was created just for Apple’s Mac platform. Recently the developers have started taking the app to Windows because of demand by potential users, who feel the unique feature set is the type of CAD application that is missing in the Windows world. In essence, the very Mac-ness of the app is actually part of the appeal to these users.

These are just three great choices. The list below provides many others at different price points but most capable fo handling multiple generalist needs.

INDEX 02:  CAD: Multi-disciplinary Mac CAD Apps

We have 20 solutions below that constitute rather robust generalist options for CAD on the Mac platform.

  • Argon — CAD and 3D precision modeling software for Mac and Windows. It offers wireframe, solid and surface history-free modeling with precision drawings, photo-realistic renderings, and animation. (Mac OS X and Windows)
  • ARES Commander — powerful CAD software for day-to-day work as well as complex projects. Leverage the productive tools and intelligent features for drafting and design that you’ve come to expect from top CAD products plus some exclusive productivity features, at significant cost savings. (Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux)
  • AutoCAD LT for Mac — the fully macOS native version of AutoCAD LT offers near feature parity with its Windows version and delivers it in a superior user-interface than its Windows version, taking advantage of unique Apple Mac user-interface features and integration, like support for the Apple Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro. (Mac OS X)
  • AutoCAD for Mac — this is the complete professional CAD package for AutoCAD on the macOS platform and has all the features of LT above plus a whole lot more in the form of 3D. (Mac OS X)
  • BricsCAD — offers all the familiar .dwg 2D CAD features, yet it adds time-saving tools and 3D Direct Modeling. (Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux)
  • BRL CAD — BRL-CAD is a powerful open source cross-platform solid modeling system that includes interactive geometry editing, high-performance ray-tracing for rendering and geometric analysis, a system performance analysis benchmark suite, geometry libraries for application developers, and more than 30 years of active development. (Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux)
  • CADintosh — 2D-CAD software for electrical, mechanical and architectural drawings. it has interactive window redrawing, where the user can work at the same time as the window is redrawing, also easy to Import and export your work into multiple format such as HPGL, DXF, and PICT.(Mac OS X)
  • DraftSight Professional — an ARES-based native DWG 2D CAD system by industry giant, Dassault Systèmes. In terms of CAD usage, DraftSight has one of the largest user-bases in the world, with over 2 million downloads and counting. It comes with its own API and Dassault has largely used this platform to thwart Autodesk’s dominance in the CAD market.
  • DraftSigth Enterprise — this version is just like the version above but for large organizations, NGOs, governments, who want full DWG native 2D CAD but with network licensing and built-in technical support plans.
  • Cobalt — the premier parametric 3D modeling and CAD program from Ashlar Vellum. This application includes 2D and 3D production drafting along with advanced parametric modeling with geometric dimensioning and tolerancing. (Mac OS X and Windows)
  • CorelCAD — an ARES-based DWG-native 2/3D CAD program that has unique ties to CorelDraw useful to manufacturers with extensive CAD and technical illustration workflows. (Mac OX and Windows)
  • FreeCAD — FreeCAD is a parametric 3D modeler made primarily to design real-life objects of any size. FreeCAD is open-source and highly customizable, scriptable and extensible. (Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux)
  • Graphite — When you want 2D and 3D CAD software that’s easy to use, yet absolutely precise, that’s Graphite. Formerly known as Vellum®, Graphite offers extremely powerful, precision wire-frame drafting with the elegant ease-of-use that makes it productive even when only used occasionally.
  • HighDesign — award-winning 2D CAD program originally made exclusively for Mac OS X, it ships in LT and Pro versions. The Windows version is currently in Beta.
  • iCADMac — made by the same folks behind progeCAD, this is a full CAD alternative to AutoCAD that is DWG native and supports a user-friendly 2D/3D CAD system native to macOS. It is highly customizable and very affordable. progeCAD is one of the several high-quality AutoCAD clone CAD companies and this is their Mac version.
  • LibreCAD —  free Open Source CAD application. (Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux)
  • MacDraft — UK-based native Mac OS X CAD program comes in both Professional and PE (Personal Learning) editions, while Professional can open and edit AutoCAD DWG files. (Mac OS X)
  • SharkCAD — SharkCAD is a comprehensive 2D/3D CAD program that ships an entry and pro versions. It features KeyShot Live Linking and advanced NURBS surface modeling. (Mac OS X and Windows)
  • TurboCAD Mac Designer — IMSI/Design’s entry-level 2D drafting CAD program is a well-regarded stable in the Mac CAD community aimed at the prosumer market. (Mac OS X)
  • TurboCAD Mac Deluxe 2D/3D — IMSI/Design’s mid-level CAD package for Mac features ACIS modeling tools along with strong 2D drafting CAD features, including support for 3D printing and both AEC and MCAD tools. (Mac OS X)
  • TurboCAD Mac Pro — is IMSI/Design’s professional mid-level 2D/3D CAD package and includes both ACIS modeling, AutoCAD DWG compatibility and powerful rendering tools along with 3D printing support. (Mac OS X)
  • Vectorworks Designer — The complete package of all vertical industry series solutions of the Vectorworks product line. (Mac OS X and Windows)
  • Vectorworks Fundamentals — the entry-level version of the Vectorworks product line, focused on general CAD and modeling needs across various industries. (Mac OS X and Windows)
  • ViaCAD — like SharkCAD made by PunchCAD and aimed at the prosumer or consumer CAD market, ViaCAD ships in 2D, 2D/3D versions and ViaCAD Pro. Taken together the PunchCAD product line ranges in price from $40USD – $1895USD. (Mac OS X and Windows)
  • Xenon — this is a full-featured 3D modeling and production drafting (2D/3D) application by Ashlar-Vellum similar to Cobalt but without parametric modeling. It has associative 3D modeling instead which is not as powerful. This is Ashlar Vellum’s mid-range product. (Mac OS X and Windows)

Growing This List

Have we missed any software packages? If you think so please email us at [email protected] and tell us about it. We will be sure to add it to the list at the next update AND we will give you a complimentary annual subscription to Architosh INSIDER premium membership.

series index page: Mac App Guides for CAD/CAM/3D/AEC industries.

Architosh will be reviewing and updating all our App Lists on a regular basis. See the dates below.

List Update Log

15 Dec 2017 — Page last updated on.

25 Nov 2017 — Creation Date


Reader Comments

Comments for this story are closed

INSIDER Xpresso keeps CAD industry professionals up-to-date on next-gen emerging technologies (emTech) that will revolutionize the worlds of AEC and manufacturing and design. As an Xpresso reader, you will hear from some of the most important voices inventing and using the very latest tech in areas such as AI, machine learning, algorithm-aided design (AAD), AR, VR, MR, 3D printing, 3D computer vision, robotics, and SmartCities technologies.

Each issue arrives in your inbox on the first Sunday of the month. Issue #1 arrived on March 3, 2019. Full archives and easy navigation for your pleasure. Enjoy! 

Sign-up for our monthly newsletter
architosh INSIDER Xpresso.

  • Architosh will never pass any of your information onto third parties.
  • For more information read our privacy policy.
  • It is easy to unsubscribe at any time. Follow the links in the newletter footer.

(Recommended. These infrequent sponsored emails help us to provide our Xpresso newsletter for free.)

INSIDER Membership

Read 3 free Feature or Analysis articles per month.

Or, subscribe now for unlimited full access to Architosh.