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Free CAD Software for Mobile Devices

20 Aug, 2014 By: Curt Moreno

Cadalyst Labs Report: Cadalyst Labs investigates free apps for CAD on the go.


CadFaster Collaborate v2.0.3 (iOS)
Mobile CAD viewer/collaboration tool
Overall Grade: B

Pros: Unique model viewer and collaboration tool; real-time screen-sharing experience.

Cons: Requires expensive desktop application plugin; no industry-standard file support; available for iOS only.

Price: Free, plus cost of required desktop plugin.

CadFaster
+358 40 168 3398
www.cadfaster.com

CadFaster Collaborate is a mobile CAD viewer meant for the 3D AEC and MCAD markets, but it really shines as a mobile collaboration tool. Users can view and comment on building information modeling (BIM) models while on the go, plus they can comment and conduct live screen-sharing markup sessions, all without needing any CAD software on their PC or iPad. CadFaster accomplishes this by using a plugin for desktop CAD applications that exports either an EXE-format or iPad-compatible file.

 

CadFaster's file directory interface makes it easy to find your current drawing.
CadFaster's file directory interface makes it easy to find your current drawing.
 
CadFaster offers excellent real-time collaboration options, such as the object visibility options shown here.
CadFaster offers excellent real-time collaboration options, such as the object visibility options shown here.

 

Therein lies the downside of CadFaster. First, the plugin software license for the desktop CAD application is rather expensive. While the CadFaster mobile application is free, the plugin licenses cost between $189 and $389 for a one-year subscription. In addition to the cost, the workflow of sharing models via EXE files raises concerns because many IT departments treat EXE files as a threat, stripping them from e-mails and refusing domain users the admin rights needed to execute them. Although the real-time collaboration options are very impressive, the concerns of cost and potential corporate security policy violations mean this CAD viewer and collaboration tool is not for everyone.

CadFaster is available as a free download from the Apple App Store for the iOS mobile operating system. The plugins needed to publish the CadFaster models are available for Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks, Autodesk Revit, Bentley SELECTseries, and Nemetschek Vectorworks. Versions are available for the Windows and Mac platforms; all can be purchased from the CadFaster site.

Users who find that CadFaster fits both their budget and their IT department's security requirements will find a truly interactive mobile CAD viewer experience. The application is intuitive and quick to respond, with fast, smooth zooms and model rotation. Unique to CadFaster is the ability to share screens between iPads and even desktop workstations, with the collaboration session hosted by any participant. Also useful is the real-time commenting ability that attaches annotation to the drawing for sharing with others across the CadFaster cloud servers.

Editor's note: The company states that MyCadbox 2.0 will be released soon and will replace CadFaster Collaborate. It also reports that this new version addresses many of the concerns stated here.

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About the Author: Curt Moreno


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