Feb 11, 2009

Recommended Software in Design and Technology

3D CAD modelling

***PTC ProDESKTOP v8*** (Now ProEngineer) - the most used 3D design software in D&T departments provided free through the Design and Technology Association (DATA), but only after teachers go on a training course and pay a nominal registration fee. N.B. ProDESKTOP is no longer supported by PTC, it is to be replaced by the more complex ProENGINEER.


SolidWorks Education Edition – a bit of a newcomer to schools due to recent price decreases. In July 2008, it was sold as a 60 user site licence for around £700. This allowed schools to distribute ‘student’ copies of the software with limited functionality. Like ProDesktop and ProEngineer, it can generate 3D parts and assemblies. Students can quickly draw 3D images, rendered images and working drawings.


Google SketchUp 6 (free version) – this excellent 3D design software can be downloaded free from Google. It is very quick and easy to pick up. Designs can only be saved as a jpeg (or as a propriety SketchUp file type) therefore designs cannot be exported as files for machining; but because of its accessibility, it is an absolutely ideal sketching and modelling application for creating and developing design ideas.


2D CAD drawing

***TechSoft 2D Design Tools v2*** - the most used 2D design software in D&T departments. It is sold through TechSoft and is most often used for engineering drawings, drawings to convert to machine tool paths for milling machines, vinyl cutters and laser cutters. Not really suitable for complex graphics, but the new version (v2) can let you import jpeg/bitmap images that can be incorporated into packaging designs, etc. The new version is really worthwhile. If you already have an older version, the upgrade costs £295 (site license V1 to site licence V2.)



Nutrients Software - diet analysis software that analyses ingredients related to particular groups of people. The analysis can be turned into a spreadsheets, word tables and even food labels. Its use could also be incorporated in PSHE courses supporting the ‘Food in Schools’ strategy.



SpeedStep – this textiles design software, like ProDESKTOP, is supported by DATA. Similarly, teachers must go on accredited training courses, which incurs a fee, but the software is then freely distributed. The software is starting to be better supported, with some of the network issues being solved.


Free alternative: Wild Things - Excellent pattern making software that has loads of standard project items in like bags and hats, type in the size and it creates the patterns ready for printing.



Yenka (formally Crocodile Technology 3D) - the new version of this electronics modelling software incorporates virtual circuit modelling, 3D - real world - circuit modelling, circuit track design mechanisms and PIC modelling. There is also a useful website with examples and tutorials. School site license costs between £400 -£600



Focus on Design Technology CD-ROM – this is a range of CD-ROMs from Focus Educational Software Ltd. There are a wide range of titles covering Resistant Materials, Graphic Products, Plastics, Wood Joints and Mechanical Toys. There are excellent titles ideal for Primary design and technology too. Each CD-ROM has lots of animations, videos, text, databases and useable teaching material. Pricing starts from £19.95 per title for a single user to £79.95 for unlimited site license.


Art drawing and painting

Revelation Natural Art – A great art package that allows users to paint with a wide range of media to produce a realist effect. It is a much more pleasant experience than using some generic painting packages such as Microsoft Paint. A 40 user license costs £219.45.


SketchBook Pro 2009 – This is a great drawing package to be used with tablet PCs and graphics tablets. It is as naturalistic as they come. Download a 15-day (non-sequential) fully featured trial from Autodesk.


Free alternative: ArtRage 2 – free painting package. http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/freesoftware/ig/Free-Graphics-Software/ArtRage2.htm

Photo editing / Graphics

***Adobe Photoshop Elements 6*** – not as feature packed as the full Photoshop application, but is still an excellent choice for use in schools.

Free alternatives: Picasa – free Google photo editing software. http://picasa.google.co.uk/intl/en/#utm_source=en-all-more&utm_campaign=en-pic&utm_medium=et

Paint.NET – free photo editing software. http://www.getpaint.net/index2.html

Systems and Control

Economatics Logicator - Control systems are created by flowcharts by dragging commands onto the screen and drawing lines between them. Logicator includes six Soft Systems on-screen control simulations.
It is also ideal for developing real control systems with Smart Box or Control Station which are bought separately. Can be purchased with eLearning Credits.


Free alternative: Scratch - a free programming software that makes it easy to create your own interactive animations, games, music, and art and share your creations on the web. This is a brilliant, easy to use systems based icon driven software.