Best CAD Animation software?

I’m looking to expand my ID skill set and pick up an animation software. What are the most solid and easy to pick up CAD animation programs out there? Currently, my software capabilities include CAD modeling with Solidworks, rendering with Photoworks, rendering with Bunkspeed Hypershot, and Adobe programs (PS, AI, and ID).

I’m looking to offer my clients some sweet 3D renders and then taking the same CAD preferably into 3D animation.


There’s the Bongo plug-in to use with Rhino. Check the SolidWorks site to see what animation plugins they have if you’re already comfortable with SolidWorks. SolidWorks itself though has a simple animation feature if you just want simple move here to there then rotate movements.

Hmm… Thanks for the comment nicanor. Yea, I would say I’m most comfortable with Solidworks. I have used their animation feature for one animation. I didn’t really like it. It was a bit jumpy on the settings that my machine could handle. I’m hoping there’s something out there that can get some nice results that is relatively simple to learn.

I’d look into Modo 401 by Luxology for it’s animation and rendering capabilities. There is a direct Solidworks importer, and they’re the people who developed the Photoview 360 for Solidworks. Modo looks like a program that can be the cross over from CAD to visual FX.

One program we were introduced in school was SoftImage (now owned by AutoDesk) XSI, but not really easy to learn and used by the pros for animation, and great for renderings as well. But freaking awesome if you know how to use it, I use it once in awhile for my final rendering if I want to experiment more than what the basic plug-in renders allow.

I guess one question I should have asked before is what kind of animation are you planning on making? Simple mechanical movements or organic stuff (animals, fur, etc).

I think the real question here is what is it that you design. That will depend on what software we can suggest. For instance I am a package, POP/POS, and Brand designer and in our industry we tend to use 3D Studio Max, Rhino, Alias, Strata, and a few other packages mostly due to the fact that the animations and models are mostly used for astatic purposes and not for engineering drawings. Our manufacturing drawing tend to be done in 2D sense they are normally dye cuts and generated from a flat sheet. If you are looking to design consumer products this may change so I think the biggest piece of info is to let us know what you are designing and we can give you a better answer on what you need…

Thanks for your comments. I think I’ll look into Modo 401 and SoftImage. I’d probably be using this for consumer products and packaging design work… maybe some industrial/mechanical pieces.