I keep running into people saying they have to use Fusion 360 because it’s the only free/cheap, decent 3D CAD option, and while I can’t speak to all the other software out there (particularly Creo and Inventor), I can tell you how to legally get Solidworks for cheap or free:
- If you’re a hobbyists, you can get Solidworks SEK with an EAA membership ($40/year), including basically every module (weldments, sheet metal, mold design, etc.), the full simulation suite, SW PCB, and SW Electrical. The EAA’s page on their Solidworks benefits.
- If you’re a small business without a SW subscription and you design your own products (not doing contract work for others), you can get free Solidworks licenses for up to a year through the SW Entrepreneurs and Startups program. In general these are Solidworks premium licenses, and I believe they offer at least some of the full simulation options (like Flow Simulation) in addition. You then get the option to buy the license at half price (subscription pricing is the same) at the end of the year (and you are required to pay for a year of subscription).