I'm looking for software similar to SolidWorks and CATIA for the Mac. I have tried Cinema 4D R14 and Rhino (Mac OS beta release), but I'm a bit disappointed on the lack of parametric modelling (not sure if that's the right term).

For example: in SolidWorks I can define a hole depth and diameter which I can change later on without a problem. Same with fillets. Also I can make assemblies out of parts by adding constraints to surfaces, centre lines and edges.

I didn't manage to get similar behaviour in Cinema 4D or Rhino. While objects can be solids in Cinema 4D it lacks precise entity placement (I can not add constraints easily). Rhino does not use solid models, but relies on surfaces. While parametric modelling is possible using the plugin Grasshopper, it's only availabe for Windows.

So to summarise, I'm looking for a 3D modelling tool that can:

  • Add precise geometric constraints to entities
  • Add constraints between different parts
  • Precise modelling that is editable later on

It doesn't have to be free, but preferably it is of course.

4 Answers 4


Well why only recommend a great program once in day... second time today: Blender has a Mac build.

Blender is so awesome that you can do almost anything with it! I have mainly used it for animation (including via precise constraints between objects) and minor adjustment of TES IV Oblivion models. I haven't really done any parametric modeling with it - mainly vertex based adjustments. However I would think it would be easy given what I've done to do parametric editing; and this article says it is easy and gives detailed instructions (although for a bit older version - probably even easier now). In fact there are a few parametric addons - for example a Window generator (architectural window).

To go over your feature list:

  • Add precise geometric constraints to entities: Yes
  • Add constraints between different parts: Yes
  • Precise modelling that is editable later on: Yes

((edit)minor note: I have been fairly involved with a FOSS 3rd party blender script project for TES IV Oblivion model/animation import/export - though I haven't actually done anything there for a couple years. Also IIRC I had one tinsy fix checked into the blender source as well a long time ago.)

  • I always thought of Blender as a sort of open source Cinema 4D, hence I never looked into it. But now I definitely will. Thanks for the suggestion. Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 7:14
  • I haven't used Cinema 4d so I can't really comment on similarities there but yeah from my understanding of Blender and your requirements I think it should be a fairly good match. Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 7:33

While Blender was a nice suggestion I found it quite similar to Cinema 4D. The parametric modelling features were based on plugins and not fully developed.

I did find FreeCAD which looks far more promising. The full feature list can be found here, but it looks very much as an open source SolidWorks. As this is a project in development there are probably quite some bugs (I did not encounter one yet) and underdeveloped features. However I hope this will be improved in future versions.


For parametric modeling in Mac you could use Siemens NX, Look for Ashlar Vellum in google, they have parametric modeling software for mac os. Autocad has been ported to mac too and the last versions had 2d constraints and some parametric features, i talking to you of autocad 201*, has been some time so may be it is more featured by now.



There is only one Parametric 3D Modeling software available on Mac, that is Siemens NX.

Other popular parametric 3D Modeling software like PTC Creo, Dassault Solidworks & Catia & Autodesk Inventor are not available on MacOS, so you can work on them only on Windows platform.

Siemens NX is a very powerful software and many big companies like GM & Apple use NX for designing their products.

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