TurboCAD 3D Macintosh

TurboCAD 3D Macintosh has all the features and tools of its 2D cousin, TurboCAD 2D (reviewed in September issue). In addition, TurboCAD 3D has an extensive set of 3D tools and commands that CAD (computer aided design) users will immediately find familiar, such as 3D primitives, extrude, lathe, sweep, as well as surface and solid Boolean operations.

Using 3D tools on an inherently 2D interface (your monitor) can be disorienting for novices. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which workplane you are creating in – it’s not always obvious where that object is located in all three dimensions without rotating the view of the object. TurboCAD 3D has made determining which plane you are drawing in easier with a number of workplane presets – top, front, and side – that allow you to quickly switch back and forth between planes. You can also define custom workplanes.

TurboCAD 3D can apply non-destructive fillets and chamfers to 3D objects. Filleting and chamfering is a common edit to an object in mechanical drafting where a corner or an edge of an object has a radius applied to it. In TurboCAD 3D, the filleting and chamfering attributes can be easily changed and adjusted because they are applied without changing the underlying geometry of an object.

TurboCAD 3D has a 2D and 3D symbol and parts library that includes over 11,000 items. The application also supports an extensive list of file formats for importing and exporting, including design industry standards like DWG, DXF, IGES, and ACIS SAT. TurboCAD 3D can import files from other CAD programs. It can also import from and export to Adobe Illustrator format, making it a great application for designers who need to produce scaled, accurate drawings with professional CAD tools that are not included in Illustrator.

The 3D capabilities of TurboCAD 3D seem more applicable to mechanical engineering or product design than to the field of architecture. There are none of the architectural building blocks – walls, doors, roofs, etc – that you see in programs such as VectorWorks or ArchiCAD. Rendering is fairly basic and limited to Phong and Gouraud shading, which produce good 3D views, but will not produce photorealistic images. Nevertheless, given the price, TurboCAD 3D is good value for a full-featured 2D drafting and 3D modelling program.


If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, basic 3D CAD program for a relatively reasonable price, TurboCAD 3D is a good choice. However, if your projects are architectural in nature, you should consider other CAD programs aimed directly at architects.

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