CAD Catalogue vs. CAD Library  

CAD Catalogue vs. CAD Library

If you’re looking for a place to source pre-made or preconfigured CAD models and blocks for your design, you will often have to choose between CAD libraries and CAD catalogues. While there are more libraries than catalogues, choosing between the two or even recognizing the difference can be difficult, especially as there is very little information available online.  

However, the difference is a simple one and you can learn most of what you need to make a decision in just a few minutes.  

What is a CAD Library?

A CAD library is a library or collection of preexisting parts or models, which can be downloaded and used. These parts are static and have either been designed by another company, an amateur, or a peer who is an expert in computer aided design.  

CAD libraries range from free to premium and some existing libraries like GITHUB, AutoDesk, and GrabCAD to highly professional premium libraries organized or developed by companies for the manufacturing industry. Libraries are advantageous when you quickly want to grab parts or blocks to aid in design or to quickly produce generic elements (such as screws and bolts), without having to design them yourself. They save a lot of time, and can also enable you to learn how to design pieces by seeing how someone else approached them.  

What is a CAD Catalogue?

A CAD catalogue is typically a premium repository of full models and parts, which can be ordered and customized based on your specifications. For example, with a CAD catalogue, you can typically choose from variations and design elements such as size, pieces, etc., for the same models and blocks, enabling you to get highly customizable and specific versions of the same parts.  

So, the primary difference is that while CAD libraries are made up of static parts, CAD catalogues are made up of configurable parts.  

So, Which Should I Choose?

CAD catalogues are typically very expensive, because companies have to put a great deal of work and time into creating configurable CAD blocks. This means that unless you have a very high budget or need it for company/manufacturing use, the CAD catalogue will likely be out of your range.  

CAD libraries are available at every price range, starting from free, which makes them much more accessible to learners, small companies, and amateur designers.  

In some cases, the differences between CAD libraries and catalogues are less easily defined, because some manufacturers may use the terms almost interchangeably. However, in most cases, a CAD catalogue will include at least 2 configurations for any model or block available. In both cases, the quality, availability of parts and options, and website or software ease of use can vary significantly from option to option.  

Hopefully you now have enough information to choose between getting a CAD library, catalogue, or both.  

If you want to learn more about internal CAD library management, click through to the next page to learn about CAD librarians and how they affect parts creation and management.  


About The Author
Gardenia Boyle, aka "Deanie," is a freelance writer from Seattle. When she's not busy working on a variety of writing projects, she enjoys volunteering at the Humane Society or hiking. If it's raining though, which it does a lot of in WA, you'll probably find her with a controller in her hand playing one of her favorite games, WoW or Final Fantasy.