I work for a sign company and currently we use Composer to draft/design/manufacture large format external signage. Unfortunately Composer is not as accurate as we would like it to be and so would like to investigate AutoCad as the next step BUT we are not sure which package to choose? Please can someone point me in the right direction?
If everything is in 2D lines, arcs, and other basic shapes then AutoCAD LT might be what you are looking for. If you intend to automate large portions of your work flow then AutoCAD or Mechanical would be more appropriate. If you do any 3D design, then Inventor or Inventor LT would be most appropriate.
We would be mainly working in 2D but would like the option to generate in 3D too? Is there a package that has both options?
The files would need to be shared with the client in a PDF format?
Depends what you want to do in 3D. If its just throwing together a few solids, AutoCAD (*not* LT) or AutoCAD Mechanical would be your tool of choice. If you are doing full mechanical layout, bill of material, COG, etc. then you should be looking at Inventor. The latter is sufficiently complex that some training is required in order to get good results.
If by PDF format, you mean digital paper of drawings, all AutoCAD products can do that. If you are referring to 3D PDF, then there are additional tools required.
What is the best or most useful version of AutoCAD, or an Autodesk product?
It seems as if there is no clear program winner here.... I've ask this question a few times, on AUGI, and a few other social web site.
I'm still investigating what or which program is the best overall not only for school (college) but also as a consultant.
I've ask this before on some other discussion groups (STL Files from AutoCAD for 3D printers).
I feel bad telling my friends and customers to use this site (meaning Autodesk in general),
to get answers or to promote software and there is not one program or person from Autodesk
that can give my friends, co-workers, my customer or me a straight answer on what to use.
Any information or help would be appreciated. BTW... I'm currently signed in under my student account,
Thanks again and Thanks in advance,
Milt Fitzgerald (a.k.a. Drafter1981)
Fitz’ Digital Cad Service L.L.C. (Consulting Business)
'most useful' really is not an answerable question, hence the impossibility of a straight answer.
There are far to many variables - from user expertise to available funding to file formats to interoperability. Especially give the non-core niche you're talking about. Heck, anything from Inkscape to Corel Draw, AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT, Illustrator, Inventor, Draftsight, GIMP, PaintdotNET, etc can be used to draw a sign and make a PDF from the design.
Talk to a reseller as Dean suggested - try out some trial versions - find a competitor in the industry and talk to them.