There are a ton of different cad programs out there for cnc or rapid prototyping work. Below I will go through some of the ones I use and recommend for parametric modeling:

1. First of all I’m going to lay down a crowd favorite – SolidWorks

SolidWorks has been around for a long time, and thus has been refined over the years.  With an app for the iPad now and countless options for exporting, this is a very versatile and highly powerful tool for 3d modeling.

2. A cheap but good one  – Cobalt

Cobalt has also been around for a while and is available on both the PC and Mac platforms. It’s licenses are far less expensive than others but offer 3d modeling, rendering and videos all in one.

3. Pro Engineer

Pro Engineer is an old one and is a massive heavy weight. Very stable even working on detailed projects with a lot of different objects. This one has pretty much every export option known to man and is a great choice for people that can afford it.

4. AutoCAD’s 3D package

This one comes with AutoCAD, while not the best modeling tool out there, the integration with AutoCAD makes this a valuable, but useful add-on for basic modeling. I love drafting in AutoCAD and definitely recommend it as the best drafting package out there.

5. Inventor

Inventor mixed with AutoCAD is a dream marriage. Inventor is a powerful and versatile 3d parametric modeling program. It’s integration with AutoCAD and it’s paper views makes it so you can still keep to your company’s drawing standards when printing off 2d working drawings.

6. Rhinoceros

Rhino is a great software package that is also very powerful. It’s add-ons for rendering also make for a tidy overall package. Rhino is also cheaper than SolidWorks, but has some very slick features such as sheet nesting.

7. Specialized software

There is specialized software within every niche to get the job done even more specifically. In the marine industry it can be programs such as MaxSurf or Ship Constructor.

For engineering, it could be Autodesk’s customized AutoCAD Mechanical programs. There are always different options aside from the mainstream that may have benefits that suit your unique niche.

Remember that this is just a very quick and general overview. What can you find that works best for your parametric modeling needs?