The Best Ways To Learn CAD/CAM Software in 2023


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Best Ways to Learn CAD CAM Software

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There are plenty of online resources and CAD/CAM software packages that can help you learn and improve.

But, not all methods work for improving your CAD skills quickly – some will leave you frustrated and waste your time. 

So, whether you want to learn the very basics, or want to reach an advanced level, in this article we’ll look at the best ways to learn CAD/CAM at beginner, intermediate, and expert levels.

Top Picks

Best Beginner Software to Learn With:

How to Learn CAD/CAM for Beginners

When you first start learning CAD/CAM, you’ll need software that won’t overwhelm you. For this, we’d recommend Autodesk Fusion 360.

In terms of programs that’ll help you learn the basics, your options are plentiful. To match our Fusion 360 recommendation, we’d recommend this CAD/CAM introductory course. This course teaches you all the Fusion 360 basics and is particularly good if you plan to pursue a career in CNC.

Autodesk Fusion 360
Source: Autodesk

Beginner Skills

You should feel comfortable as a beginner once you have mastered the following CAD and CAM skills.

CAD skills:

  • Creating 2D drawings using lines, circles, rectangles, arcs, and splines
  • Understanding raster and vector file types and how to convert them
  • Understanding cartesian coordinates and planes
  • Grouping and ungrouping
  • Measuring distances and dimensions
  • Translation, mirroring, and rotating

Basic CAM skills:

Beginner Resources

As a beginner, you should be able to find your feet using software tutorials and YouTube videos alone.

Besides these videos, you should also check out Autodesk. On the Autodesk blog, you’ll find several helpful beginner resources. This includes a CAD key terms index. You can also find several Fusion 360 tutorial videos on the Autodesk website.

Best Ways to Learn CAD/CAM Software for Intermediate Users

At an intermediate level, you focus on learning slightly more complex tasks. Many of these concepts are beyond simple CAD software like Easel or Carbide Create, or 2D CAD software.

For example, AutoCAD is an example of reliable software for intermediate CAD learning. However, it’s best for 2D drawing and collaboration.

AutoCAD Software
Source: Autodesk

Although AutoCAD’s full version has 3D design capabilities, it’s better to use other software like Fusion 360, Onshape, SolidWorks, or FreeCAD for 3D modeling and part design. AutoCAD also doesn’t offer CAM capabilities. If you’re struggling to pick, we’ve compared FreeCAD vs Fusion 360, as well as Onshape vs SolidWorks in separate in-depth articles.

We’d also recommend checking out programs offered by G-Code Tutor. Here, you can master G-code programming and other useful intermediate-level skills.

Intermediate Level Skills

At an intermediate level, you should be learning and mastering the following skills.

Lower Intermediate CAD Skills:

  • Polar and spherical coordinates and axes of symmetry
  • Creating 3D shapes by extruding, revolving, and more
  • Parametric modeling
  • Surface design

Higher Intermediate CAD skills:

  • Part design
  • Project management
  • Mechanism assembly and simulation

CAM skills:

  • Pocketing
  • Digital manufacturing knowledge
  • Turning machines
  • Roughing toolpaths
  • 4-axis CNC machining
  • Materials, tools, and speeds knowledge 

Best Ways to Learn CAD/CAM Software for Experts

At the expert level, you should feel proficient in completing CAD software tasks. To further advance your skills, you can find several advanced classes on advanced software like Siemens NX. However, many employers offer CAD training in their company from their experts for their specific CAD software. 

You can also find classes on CAM Experts and on Udemy. Here, you’ll find more specific courses, which is good if you feel you lack expertise in a specific area.

Sites like Fusion 360 still offer a range of advanced-level features. On platforms like this, you can master advanced skills like freeform modeling and mill turning.

Plus, on Fusion 360 you can sit the Autodesk Certification Exam. If you pass this, you earn an Autodesk Credential badge. This badge verifies your proficiency at expert-level CAD/CAM software.

Expert Level Skills

Expert CAD skills:

  • Freeform modeling
  • High-quality surface design
  • Reverse engineering
  • Sheet metal part creation
  • Engineering analysis (FEA and more)
  • Dynamic simulation

Expert CAM skills:

  • Interactive assembling
  • Mill turning
  • 5-axis machining
  • Deep understanding of feeds and speeds
  • Expert metalworking and machining knowledge

Expert Level Resources

MyCADsite is a good option for mastering intermediate skill sets and it also has a wealth of advanced topic resources.

MyCADsite Software
Source: MyCADsite

Ellen Finkelstein is another great resource for expert-level aid. Here, you can find useful information on plotting and presentation, layering, and customization.

Other expert-level resources and blogs that are worth checking out include:

Best CAD/CAM Software to Use to Learn

As an absolute beginner, you need to choose your CAD/CAM software wisely. While free software is obviously good, it doesn’t always offer you the right learning experience you need. 

Sometimes, you need to spend a little to further your CAD and CAM knowledge – but which CAM software should you go for?

There’s obviously the risk of buying advanced software that is out of your depth in terms of comprehension. Your software purchase should reflect your current understanding of CAD. It should also provide you with plenty of room to further your learning.

Some of the best CAM software for beginners include the following:


TinkerCAD Software
Source: TinkerCAD

This program runs you through all the basics of 3D modeling. It teaches you how to create curved shapes, combine shapes together, and print out 3D versions of your complex models. 

TinkerCAD is less complicated than other CAD software. Because of this, it’s great for beginners to get comfortable with the basics.

TinkerCAD’s features are purposefully limited. This ensures that new users don’t feel overwhelmed as they get used to different commands and controls.

Solid Edge CAM Pro

Solid Edge CAM Pro Software
Source: Solid Edge

Don’t be fooled by the name. Although this software sounds reserved for the pros, it can also be very helpful to those who are still in the beginner stage. 

A lot of this comes down to the dashboard. This CAD software is incredibly easy to navigate, and the dashboard itself can be picked up by beginners after a few sessions.

It can teach beginners a whole range of manufacturing approaches, both old and new. Namely, users of Solid Edge can practice manufacturing, turning, nesting, CNC, NC simulation, feature-based machining, additive manufacturing, and so on.

Although beginners may not be quite ready for this, it exposes them to techniques that they will eventually encounter.

Above all, Solid Edge is not complex software – it is highly intuitive and great for beginners.

Fusion 360

Fusion 360 Software
Source: Autodesk

Fusion 360 is good software for beginners but also boasts advanced features for more proficient CAM software users.

On Fusion 360, users can turn their sketches into complex 3D models. Not only that, but they can also print them out easily. Fusion 360 has many additional functions and tools. This includes probing, profiling, turning, mill turning, four/five-axis milling, and adaptive clearing.

Given its wide array of features, Fusion 360 is also used in the professional world of computer-aided design. We’d recommend Fusion 360, particularly since it is suitable for several levels of expertise.

You can effectively learn with Fusion 360 as you go. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you don’t need to go to a different platform to continue your CAD learning journey.

Learning CAD/CAM: Things to consider

Buying Guide

Learning CAD takes a lot of effort, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of money. While some may feel investing in the best software and courses is the right way, others may not.

There are plenty of variables to consider when learning CAD. Choosing between online or offline teaching could change the overall price of your learning.

To help you consider the financial side of CAD software and education, here’s a handy buyer’s guide:

Learning From a Course vs Self-teaching

If you’re looking to save money, opting for the self-taught route may be the best option for you. Not only will you be working at your own pace, but you’ll also likely save money on the course’s price. 

Both online and offline courses can end up costing you a lot. Plus, there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually learn CAD from them.

If you feel confident that you can master CAD software through trial and error, then this is the best approach for you. 

Expensive CAD/CAM programs, such as AutoCAD, will come with plenty of resources to help you through. This includes video tutorials and demonstrations.

However, creating toolpaths and G-Code isn’t exactly easy to learn on your own. Some may benefit from having professional assistance throughout the early stages of their learning. 

Most online and all offline courses are run by professionals, so you’ll be able to attain that expert assistance.

Online vs Offline Learning

You’ll need to complete both online and offline learning to enter the professional CAM field (computer-aided manufacturing). Not only can in-person teaching help you better understand your job role, but it can also broaden your skillset.

For example, with CNC, it would be helpful for you to see how your virtual machining works. Or, in offline jewelry design classes, you’ll get to learn physical jewelry-making tasks. 

This includes the likes of stone setting and lost wax casting. Understanding the physical aspects of your job can make you better at CAM/CAD.

Online learning is great for learning the basics of your CAD/CAM role. However, we’d recommend investing in some in-person experience, too.

What Type of CAD/CAM Do You Want to Learn?

CAD/CAM is learned with various career goals in mind. The type of career you want to pursue should determine the course you enroll in, the software you invest in, the resources you download, and so on.

When investing in CAD/CAM software, classes, and resources, you need to consider your specialty. For example, specific software is recommended for jewelry design. So, you need to invest in the right stuff.

Jewelry Design

3D printing plays a big part in jewelry design nowadays. For this reason, it would be a great idea to invest in jewelry designing software that specializes in 3D printing. The best software for this includes Fusion 360 and Matrix.

There are also several free resources aiming at jewelry designers specifically. This includes the training resources on CAD Jewellery Skills.

Another example is the CAD Jewelry School blog. This features several jewelry design training video tutorials.

Interior Design

Interior design is arguably the most complex of all CAD/CAM careers. Not only do you have to create 3D models with computer-aided design, but you also have to virtually map out full home interiors.

For this daunting task, you’ll need the most appropriate CAD program. At a beginner level, the best interior design CAD/CAM program would either be HomeByMe, RoomStyler3D, or Foyr Neo. All of these programs are really good for creating basic room layouts and designs.

Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to move up to intermediate and expert-level interior design. 

SketchUp and AutoCAD are two of the biggest CAD software packages for interior design. They’re tricky to master and demand some degree of CAD/CAM background knowledge.


Packages such as Aspire and Easel CNC are designed specifically for CNC machine toolpaths. These two software are great learning grounds if you’re looking to specialize in CNC machine control.

However, it’s still better to learn basic CAM/CAD techniques on the likes of Fusion 360.

To master everything CNC, from CNC lathe to CNC router, you should enroll in an online course. 

The CNC G-Code Programming Courses are amongst the best for CNC machine learning. Provided by G-Code Tutor, this platform offers a range of courses on CNC that can take you from beginner to expert.