Top 7 Best CAD Modelling Software for Aerospace Applications (2023)

7 Mins read
  • 2023 Update
Safran Transmission Systems uses 3DEXPERIENCE platform
Safran Transmission Systems uses 3DEXPERIENCE platform/Source: Safran

If you are interested in modelling, then we are sure you must be fascinated with aerospace modelling. But are you aware of the best CAD modelling software for aerospace applications?

If not, then this is the article for you. And even if you know, you can find some new or never-tried-before software applications that you can explore.

Most designers use multiple software applications for their designing needs, so knowing all available options can be beneficial and can set you apart as a designer. Also, having a wider knowledge of modelling software, will also help you excel at your job. So, this list will certainly help you. Continue reading to find out the top CAD modelling software for aerospace applications.

CAD Modelling Software for Aerospace Applications

SharkCAD Pro

SharkCAD Pro-AP is the ideal CAD modelling software for aerospace applications
SharkCAD Pro-AP is the ideal CAD modelling software for aerospace applications/Source: DARcorporation

SharkCAD Pro (previously Shark FX-AP) is CAD modelling software for aerospace applications. It includes all of the tools required to create an aircraft model. SharkCAD can accurately and quickly create 3D models at a fraction of the cost of comparable high-end CAD software. Its 3D modelling capabilities include Mesh Modeling, Solid Modeling, and Surface Modeling, allowing you to easily render aeroplane prototypes and anything else that requires high-end visuals. SharkCAD Pro-AP is ideal for engineers, drafters, artists, scientists, and hobbyists who want to make their ideas a reality.

SharkCAD Pro-AP is a combination of AeroPack and SharkCAD Pro v12. AeroPack is a set of one-of-a-kind drawing tools designed specifically for aeroplane design. Tools like Create Airfoil, Wing Planform, and Polyconic Surfaces make it easy to 3D model aeroplane components. Users can import geometry from Advanced Aircraft Analysis (AAA) into SharkCAD Pro-AP as a 3D model using the Import Airplane tool.

How to Get Started?

To get started, you will have to buy the software to use it. With the software purchase you will get CD-ROM, WibuKey and 12 months software maintenance (tech support, service releases and new version upgrades). It offers discounts for educational licenses and even while buying multiple licenses.

Solid Edge

When it comes to solid modelling, Solid Edge is top-notch software that offers a wide portfolio of affordable, easy-to-use software tools that address all aspects of the product development process. It combines the speed and simplicity of direct modelling with the flexibility and control of parametric design – made possible with synchronous technology. Using synchronous technology, the programme supports both parametric and direct modelling for maximum flexibility for the software’s use by engineers.

Its product development portfolio includes features like 3D design including modelling, generative design, AM and reverse engineering; Electrical design; Simulation; Scalable Data management to meet needs of all businesses (Startups to MNC’s), Traditional and Additive Manufacturing including machining, welding, sheet metal, molding, and additive manufacturing; Cloud-based collaboration, and much more.

All these features make it a powerful CAD modelling software for aerospace applications and thus it is widely used to make precise replicas of aerospace components.

Solid Edge 2023

Solid Edge 2023 delivers new functionalities to streamline product design, including enhancements to enable seamless collaboration between teams and systems, a new and improved user interface, enhanced capabilities for simulation and manufacturing, as well as flexible licensing options that give you the features you want, when you need them.

How to Get Started?

Solid Edge offers a downloadable 30-day Free Trial to all types if users with diverse test capabilities.


Autodesk Inventor
Autodesk Inventor/Source: Autodesk

Inventor is a powerful and professional-grade design software with design, documentation and simulation tools. Inventor is a part of Autodesk, a company that dominates the market for design software worldwide.

A potent fusion of parametric, direct, freeform, and rules-based design capabilities makes it a great CAD modelling software for aerospace applications. Considering that sheet metal is used to construct aerospace bodies, surface design is also crucial. Thus capabilities like sheet metal, frame design, tube and pipe, cable & harness, presentations, rendering, simulation, machine design, and more make it a one-stop-shop for aeronautical model creation.

Inventor 2023

The latest version of the software includes numerous user-requested updates and enhancements, such as Fusion 360 interoperability, the ability to securely share data between Revit, part and assembly modelling enhancements, and documentation enhancements.

How to Get Started?

Inventoroffers a downloadable 30-day Free Trial for professional users and for a free software for students and educators for use in classroom.

PTC Creo

Creo, developed by Parametric Technology Corporation, is a powerful CAD modelling software that provides comprehensive 3D CAD/CAM/CAE capabilities. With its wide array of features, it can help you accelerate product innovation so you can build better products faster. Designers and engineers with previous experience with design software will find this one a natural fit. However, it could be too much for novice designers to handle.

PTC Creo is often the company’s first choice when it comes to sophisticated modelling, simulation, and analysis. Aside from that, it can perform additive manufacturing, model-based definition, and smart connected design. It works wonderfully for modelling surfaces and designing products.

The Internet of Things (IoT), along with other emerging technologies like generative design, augmented reality, real-time simulation, and the like, can be used to accelerate the iteration process, lower production costs, and boost product quality. Creo has the potential to provide the game-changing tools you need to gain a competitive edge and expand your market share in the fast-paced world of product development. The last major release was in May of 2022. Some of the most notable improvements are as follows:

The latest update boosts the software’s speed, powerful MBD tools to provide greater clarity with less effort, simulation and generative design tools, enhancements to additive and subtractive manufacturing, and much more.

How to Get Started?

Creo Parametric, from PTC, is available for a free 30-day trial that allows you to test out all of its finest capabilities. Students can also test-drive Onshape and Mathcad, two additional PTC products.


Safran Transmission Systems uses 3DEXPERIENCE platform
Safran Transmission Systems uses 3DEXPERIENCE platform/Source: Safran

CATIA is a world-class solution for product design and development. Initially developed by Dassault Systèmes as in-house CAD modelling software for aerospace applications, it has evolved into a software behemoth used by some of the world’s leading organisations across multiple industries to develop many of the professional products we see and use every day.

Though it can be used for other things, it is most commonly used for the development of aerospace products.

CATIA provides the unique ability to model any product not only in the context of its real-life behaviour, but also in the context of its design in the age of experience. The connected world can be defined, imagined, and shaped by systems architects, engineers, designers, construction professionals, and all other contributors.

CATIA’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform, delivers unique advantages to its users including:

  • A social design environment to drive business intelligence, real-time concurrent design and collaboration across all stakeholders including mobile workers.
  • An Instinctive 3DEXPERIENCE for experienced and occasional users with world-class 3D modelling and simulation capabilities.
  • An inclusive product development platform that’s easy to integrate. Multiple disciplines can use powerful, integrated specialist applications throughout product development.

How to Get Started?

CATIA does not offer a free trial like most of its competitors. To understand the software better, you can schedule a Demo of the software before you make a purchase decision by contacting the sales team.

Siemens NX

Siemens NX landing gear design
Siemens NX landing gear design/Source: Siemens

Siemens NX software is a flexible yet powerful integrated solution that enables engineers to deliver professional-grade products more quickly and efficiently. NX is the next generation of design, simulation, and manufacturing solutions that help businesses realise the value of digital twins.

NX provides a comprehensive set of design and manufacturing tools. Its Syncrofit™ feature enables companies to manage the joints of complex aerospace assembly structures more efficiently.

NX also has generative design capabilities for quickly developing a variety of iterations, which aids in the development of new products. Its modelling technology platform supports the most productive modelling approaches, including explicit solid and surface modelling, parametric and direct modelling, and facet-based modelling.

Its dedicated aircraft design software allows topology optimisation for ‘lightweighting’ of aerospace components and also integrates additive manufacturing process so you can directly send the design to your 3D printer.

How to Get Started?

Siemens NX has an interesting way to offer 30-day trial solutions where you can download dedicated modules like automotive product design, automotive simulation, aircraft design software, etc. This means you have to download smaller modules which do not take up much disk space, are faster in operation and do not overwhelm you with unnecessary features.


OpenVSP GUI/Source: Wikipedia

NASA created this CAD modelling software for aerospace applications. OpenVSP (Vehicle Sketch Pad) is primarily a free and open-source aircraft-centric geometry and analysis software that allows for the rapid generation of conceptual models from components parameterized by common engineering or design parameters such as span, chord, twist, or sweep for wings or length and cross-sections for fuselages/bodies.

OpenVSP enables users to create a 3D model of an aircraft based on common engineering parameters. This model can be converted into engineering analysis formats. Despite its ease of use, this 3D software is not suitable for inexperienced designers. Engineers can find 3D models for inspiration on VSP Hangar, the community’s database.

If you’re a fan, you can attend OpenVSP Workshops, which are annual opportunities for users of all experience levels to learn about ongoing OpenVSP development and features directly from the source, as well as to gain knowledge and skill in leveraging a versatile aerospace geometry design and analysis software.

Its most recent release, 3.30.0 (at the time of writing), was in August 2022. This latest update includes a few useful features and bug fixes, as well as laying the groundwork for some upcoming features.

How to Get Started?

The OpenVSP software is available for free download. It is compatible with Windows, Mac OS (though we are unsure if it works with the latest M1 Chip), and Ubuntu.


The above list of CAD modelling software for aerospace applications will be extremely useful for all types of users, from students to experts in the engineering field. Users can design simple to complex products for a variety of applications such as prototypes, fitment tests, jigs and fixtures for larger parts, engine and turbine parts, nozzles, aircraft body parts, and so on.

You can effectively use any one or a combination of applications in your next and future aerospace projects if you explore each software.

If you are interested in learning about the designing software for automotive applications, then do check out our article on the best car design software.

If you are interested in learning about the designing software for architecture applications, then do check out our article on the best art design software.

About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing. which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Visit our 3D Printing Education page to read more such informative articles. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Manufactur3D is an Indian Online 3D Printing Media Platform that reports on the latest news, insights and analysis from the Indian and the Global 3D Printing Industry.
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