Seems like everyone wants a piece of the low-end of the CAD market. The latest vendor to stake out a claim on that turf is Corel, a maker of such graphics and technical illustration design tools like CorelDRAW and Corel Painter.
Accompanying players like Alibre and SpaceClaim, Corel released CorelCAD, a package for both Mac and Windows platforms. The new CorelCAD, priced at $699, delivers a full complement of both 2-D and 3-D design capabilities in addition to native support for the AutoCAD DWG file format, eliminating the need for an import/export process to read and write files in the industry standard format. With the new release, Corel is taking aim at smaller companies and in particular, technical designers, who want the power and precision of CAD tools without a lot of the technology complexity overhead and especially the huge price tag–typically upwards of $5,000 for many of the leading programs. To create CorelCAD, Corel partnered with Graebert GmbH, using the German company’s ARES engine as the core set of functionality for the program.
The question is, though, does the CAD market need another low-cost alternative? In addition to the relative newcomers like Alibre and SpaceClaim, Dassault Systémes now has DraftSight, a free 2-D CAD product and community that lets users read, write and share DWG files, and Autodesk itself offers AutoCAD LT, albeit at nearly twice the cost of the new CorelCAD.
The bottom line is, though, there is still an active market for 2-D CAD tools despite all the talk over the years as to how 3-D would obliterate the old paradigm. Some users and companies don’t need or want the overhead of the big, feature-rich 3-D CAD tools, and even among the companies that have made the migration, there are still tasks that are better served with low-end, 2-D tools. That said, perhaps Corel sees an opportunity to cross-sell its user base with this new CAD functionality. And with even the major CAD vendors admitting that the core market for CAD–hard core engineers–has been stalled for years, perhaps a low end tool, if well orchestrated and designed, can find a home among that niche of users for whom CAD-right is CAD-light.