Where are the best places for engineers to find and download CAD models for free?
Engineers are under extreme pressure to decrease their time to market while increasing the accuracy of their designs. What’s often overlooked is that today’s engineering designs are comprised of many “COTS” or commercial-off-the-shelf parts. These are parts designed and manufactured by “Company A” and sourced by “Company B” for a project. Depending on the industry, 40%-80% of each design is made of these purchased parts. If these parts are in a project, engineers need an accurate CAD model of each for their design.
Instead of designing, engineers often spend much of their day scouring the internet for these CAD models for their plans and designs
Deep dive: The Top 5 resources to find and download CAD models for free!
3D Find It is an all-new FREE 3D Search site. It is a visual 3D search engine to help engineers, designers, and architects, find CAD & BIM parts quickly. 3D Find It has an international audience of 18 million registered users who love it because it’s loaded with hundreds of manufacturer catalogs.
Engineers can search to find the exact part they’re looking for, then download in the precise CAD format they prefer. Many of the 2000+ catalogs available on 3D Find It provide native files so engineers can download in their preferred CAD format. With more than 150 formats available, there is something for everyone here.
Where 3D Find it really shines is it’s visual 3D search engine. 3D Find It enables engineers to find the part they’re looking for in seconds, with a variety of unique search methods. Engineers can search using a sketch, a photo, shape search using existing geometry, parametric text search, and color search to find parts quicker than ever before!
PARTcommunity has long stood as one of the largest sources to find and download CAD models for free on the web. PARTcommunity hosts over 800 manufacturers certified 3D CAD and BIM catalogs. Its extremely popular too. In 2019 there were 405M free CAD and BIM models downloaded by engineers from PARTcommunity portals.
Within PARTcommunity, engineers can download 3D CAD files in over 150+ neutral and native file formats, including 2D drawings and 3D interactive product datasheets. PARTcommunity has over 23 million registered users, including engineers, purchasers, architects, and designers, who use it to research and reference the trillions of available products and configurations. The search results from PARTcommunity link directly to the manufacturer content, so engineers know the free downloaded CAD content is certified to be accurate.
Download CAD Models Directly from Manufacturer Websites:
The best way to get CAD content is directly from the manufacturer’s website!
Look for manufacturers who provide an interactive 3D preview and CAD files in native formats. These part can be configured on-demand, meaning the underlying data is up to date. When an engineer downloads a model of the created part, you know the data is accurate and up to date!
Be aware that some manufacturers only offer static files in neutral formats. Due to their static nature, these files can sometimes be out of date and the source of future engineering problems.
Manufacturers who offer great CAD certified content and native CAD downloads:
- Colson Casters is the world’s largest wheel and caster manufacturer.
- Misumi is one of the world’s most extensive manufacturer catalogs. Misumi manufacturers configurable and fixed components for factory automation.
- Toshiba International Corporation (TIC) TIC provides application solutions to a wide range of industries.
- NKK Switches designs and manufactures the industry’s most extensive selection of electromechanical switches.
- Molex manufacturer of electronic connectors and components.
- US Tsubaki interactive chain design and configuration tool.
- AW Lake manufactures and services flow measurement technology.
- Nason manufactures a full line of space-saving cylinders, switches, and transducers.
- Samtec manufactures electronic wire components, assemblies, and interconnects.
- Eaton sells products to customers worldwide, in over 150 countries!
- Eaton Architectural Products Eaton has BIM content too!
- Parker Hannifin Corporation manufactures and sells motion and control technologies and systems for various mobile, industrial and aerospace markets worldwide.
Within CAD and PLM Software
Engineers may not know that often they can search for free CAD content directly in their CAD or PLM platform. These built-in catalogs make it easier to find free CAD models without interrupting the design process.
Tools with built-in manufacturer CAD content
- PTC Windchill –
- Siemens Teamcenter – Siemens Reuse Library
- Siemens NX – Siemens Reuse Library
- Siemens Solid Edge 2021 with 3D find it built in
- Autodesk 360 –
- Autodesk Vault
- Onshape Online CAD Library
Another great resource for CAD data is a place many engineers are already use to source components; distributor websites. Many have partnered with the manufacturers they represent, enabling the distributor to reuse the 3D preview and CAD downloads directly on their website. This is one of those win-win-win situations where the manufacturer, distributor and end-user all benefit.
Distributors with CAD downloads:
McMaster Carr Supply is another distributor with a very large parts catalog available online. Their online catalog includes many small pieces and components engineers need. Since they specialize in next day delivery of maintenance, repair, and operations materials and supplies they are a favorite source for purchasing departments too. Their site enables engineers to search and discover parts within the catalog, but offers only a few file formats. Check them out here: https://www.mcmaster.com/
In today’s world, engineers are busier than ever. It’s essential to offer fast and accurate free downloads to improve engineers’ workday, get back to value-adding design time! Make sure you consider these top 5 resources for engineers to find and download free CAD!
Remember, the best way to get CAD content is always directly from the manufacturer’s website! Be sure to look for essential signs such as – a 3D interactive preview, a configurator that builds on-demand, and native file formats. This way, you’ll know that the free files downloaded are also up-to-date and accurate!