3D CAD vs. 3D Modeling Comparison

3D CAD software market size was valued at $8.9 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.03% up to 2028 and will be $14.23 billion.

[ https://www.verifiedmarketresearch.com/product/3d-cad-software-market/ ]

The reason behind such exponential growth of the 3D CAD software market is its ever-expanding industrial usage across a variety of industries, including:

  • Architecture
  • Engineering
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Automotive
  • Healthcare

The same goes true for 3D modeling software, as its growth is steadily increasing among various industry verticals.

What Are the Usages of 3D CAD Design and 3D Modeling?

It is a primitive question why people want to use 3D CAD design and 3D modeling software. The answers are:

  1. To develop a three-dimensional representative of digital objects or products.
  2. To construct a virtual model of a real-world product.
  3. To design a new product.
  4. To modify an existing product.
  5. To create a prototype of a product.
  6. To test a product design.
  7. To manufacture a product.

However, before jumping into the 3D CAD design vs. 3D modeling debate, I would like to provide you answers to some basic/fundamental questions: what is 3D CAD design, and what is 3D Modeling?

What Is 3D CAD Design?

It is a process of creating a three-dimensional model of an object using CAD (Computer-aided Design) software. It demands technical skills to develop a technically precise 3D CAD design by engineers, architects, and other design professionals for specific industrial usage.

What Is 3D Modeling?

It is the process of creating a three-dimensional representation of an object or scene. With the right tools and practice, anyone can develop a 3D model or convert a 3D CAD model into a 3D model for more refined visualization. It involves the use of surface rendering, animation, and other tools for engineering, architecture, and 3D gaming industries.

3D CAD Design vs. 3D Modeling; The Main Differences.


  • It’s all about creating geometric shapes.
  • You need to start with a technical design with 2D objects.
  • You can extrude and modify using threads, holes, and snaps.
  • It demands a lot of precision in dimensions based on technical sketches of your objects.
3D Modeling:
  • It’s working like real clay.
  • You don’t need to measure everything precisely.
  • You will work with 3D shapes, and the creation process involves extrusions and modifications.
  • You can apply materials and styles to render objects like real-world scenes.


  • It lets you create 2D as well as 3D models/designs.
3D Modeling:
  • You can create only 3D models of the object or scene.


  • It’s expensive.
3D Modeling:
  • It is affordable.


  • It is complex to work with, and only trained professionals can operate it.
  • It provides more details.
3D Modeling:
  • It is less complex, and anyone can operate it with some skills.
  • It provides fewer details.


  • It produces technical drawings in the digital landscape.
  • It serves as a database for production purposes.
  • It stores technical information, including a Bill of Material (BOM) and a realistic product description.
3D Modeling:
  • It lets you create a visualization of technical CAD drawings by adding materials and rendering them in a realistic environment.
  • It never acts as a database or stores critical information for production, just producing an object’s visual appeal.


  • It provides a hyper-realistic digital 3D model of any object that can exist in the real world.
  • Civil engineering and construction industry use it to create digital 3D products with detailed and precise information for marketing and advertising purposes.
  • Mechanical and automobile engineering industries use precise models of tools, machines, and objects for production, advertising, and marketing purposes.
  • It provides ready-to-use 3D objects with precise dimensions to render in 3D modeling software.
3D Modeling:

It creates 3D models of objects for a variety of purposes and industries, such as:

  • Evaluation of the design’s financial and technical feasibility.
  • Measuring performance.
  • Checking construction stability.
  • Provide exceptional user experiences of a product or scene through walkthroughs or animations.
  • Revealing hidden functions of an object/scene.
  • Seeing the aesthetic appeal of an object or scene before its construction.
  • Producing games and cinemas.

Primary Characteristics


Here, three-dimensional geometry is involved, including points, lines, triangles, squares, and various surfaces. They become the foundation of the construction of a 3D model. It has stored primary data of geometric shapes in the model.

3D Modeling:

3D modelers add shadows, textures, etc. to the 3D objects surfaces. Therefore, models seem real-life, like solid physical objects on the screen, and give a realistic appearance of an object or scene. Modelers add a background, including plants, trees, water, fire, air, and other objects found in real-world scenes. So, the final rendering of the scene creates a photo-realistic image serving your purposes.



Various industries are using different CAD software.

  • Civil engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Automotive engineering
  • Aeronautical engineering
  • Aerospace engineering
  • Electrical & electronic engineering
  • Fashion industry
3D Modeling:

A variety of industries and businesses have a demand for 3D Modeling for different purposes. Those industries are:

  • Architecture
  • Civil engineering
  • Construction
  • Mechanical and automobile engineering
  • Animation industry for advertising and marketing purposes
  • Cinema and video producing units for special effects and filmmaking
  • The game industry for interactive and animated game creation
  • Fashion industry
  • Medical, science, pharmaceutical, and education industries

What Software Will You Use for 3D CAD Design?

Autodesk AutoCAD is the most popular software for 3D CAD design and 2D CAD design. Some free and open-source 3D CAD design software are FreeCAD and OpenSCAD. The following are proprietary software:

  • Autodesk Fusion 360
  • Autodesk Inventor
  • Solidworks
  • Catia
  • Siemens NX
  • PTC Creo

What Software Will You Use for 3D Modeling?

You can use MeshLab and OpenSCAD, free and open-source software for 3D Modeling. However, 3D MAX by Autodesk is a top-rated proprietary software used in the market. Other software is:

  • Autodesk Maya
  • Blender
  • Cinema 4D
  • ZBrush

Your One-stop Solution:

Shalin Design has renowned teams for 3D CAD Design and 3D Modeling with years of experience in the industry and serving global clientele at highly competitive rates. Let’s have a phone call to discuss your project requirements and get a free quote.