Is there an alternative to Subscription CAD in 2024

Many of us have experienced the frustration of subscription-based software, with its monthly fees, lack of ownership, and dependence on internet connectivity. Today, we’ll delve into an alternative – Atom 3D by Alibre. The folks at Alibre provided me with the opportunity to try out their hobby software, and in this post, we’ll explore its unique features and advantages, particularly its perpetual license model.

Perpetual License vs. Subscription Model

One of the standout features of Atom 3D is its perpetual license. Unlike subscription-based models, where you rent the software and risk losing access if you cancel or the company goes under, a perpetual license means you own the software for a lifetime. Even a decade later, if you have a compatible Windows installation, Atom 3D will still function, ensuring access to your files and the ability to continue your modeling work.

Key Features of Atom 3D:

  1. Parametric Framework: Atom 3D allows users to create models in a parametric framework, enabling the combination of parts into assemblies.

  2. File Compatibility: The software supports various file formats, including SolidWorks, STEP, SAT, drawing, DXF, SVG, STL for 3D printing, and more.

  3. User-Friendly Interface: The user interface is intuitive, resembling other CAD programs. The ribbon layout and standard modification tools make it familiar and easy to navigate.

Modeling with Atom 3D

 From sketching on surfaces to applying constraints and dimensions, the software proves to be accessible for users with experience in other CAD programs. While there is a learning curve with all CAD programs, the user interface is intuitive and well laid out. Once a new user has got to grips with the basics, they’ll be creating models in no time at all.

File Exporting

Atom 3D’s export functionality is quite extensive with many formats supported (STL, STEP, SAT, OBJ, DWG (2D), DXF (2D), SVG, PDF (2D & 3D)).  So whatever your export requirements are, Atom 3D has you covered.


Atom 3D emerges as a promising alternative to subscription-based CAD software, offering a perpetual license, a user-friendly interface, and compatibility with various file formats. The ownership of the software and access to files even without internet connectivity make it an attractive option for users seeking confidence in the longevity of their modeling tool.

If you are interested, you can try out Atom 3D  here

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