I’m looking to play around with some CAD/CAM software before investing in a machine, so I can learn how the workflow is. Any suggestions or favorites people can recommend?

What are the other criterias?
Because if money is no object (and steep learning curve) then Siemen ecosystem (NX) is amazing.

On the DIY/future career side:

  1. Creo PLM received multiple awards for best system in the recent years. You can try to get their education licence. Though I must admit try to adapt to their workflow from other old CADs (AutoCAD/Solidworks/NX) is hard!
    Pro: It’s awesome.
    Con: If you are already good at other CAD, it can be hard to get used to.

  2. Solidworks, which I use for personal purposes, is balance between professional and intuitive. It is most popular in university. Some uni don’t even hide their licence key, I think that’s as much as I can say, Google is your friend.
    Pro: Easy to learn. Many other CADs have the same workflow so if you can use it, you can use about 40% of all CADs. Still have one-time licence (big WOW).
    Con: Features are not consistent throughout the years. A feature can be remove in next year version, then added back in the next. Another feature works perfect in last year version, then wonky in this year, then you hope they can fix it in the next. What is all that about!???

  3. AutoDesk Fusion: Very popular among DIYers as they give 2 free installations per account. Also free for small business. Personally though, Autodesk is the Apple/Tesla of software, almost every engineer I know hate them.
    Pro: Easy to use, popular, free for the most parts.
    Con: Only subscription payment. They don’t even make good software anymore, just buy them, make them worst, then make you pay every year.

  4. Onshape: Free and web based. It’s quite good for not-too-complicated projects. That’s said, their asking price is 1000€/year same as Solidworks but for half of the features.Honestly, You can buy Solidworks and setup remote desktop, host your own VPN for the same price. Also they used “behaviour analysis” to judge you (their words, not mine). I used it during my lunch break at work and one day I received phone call and emails which I can only describe (nicely) as unprofessional and offensive by their CEO who is probably drunk/high at the time.
    Pro: Free, anywhere access.
    Con: Complicated projects take long time to load. Sub-assembly does not works. Mating is complicated. Take longer to use the same feature (more mouse/button clicks, despite they marketing it as less). Not too sure about their management’s professionalism.

And many other free softwares but not integrated as a proper PLM system though.
These are my opinions, don’t hold me up to them. Feel free to pm if you need help learning how to use any of them.

Thanks so much for all of this information! I’ll take some time to take a look at all of these options myself as well, but this is a great help.