The most common types of industrial design software are for modeling 3D and free-form surfaces. These products can come separately or be packaged together in one program. Other features can include sketching, design visualization, and animation. Products can come stand-alone, in suites, or as separate products which have the capability for integration.
Most industrial design software will have some capability for designing free-form surfaces. These are the areas that form the exterior of a product, such as the body of an automobile. A free-form program will typically have some way to create and then mold an exterior so that it is the right style and within building specifications.
Another common type of industrial design software is for 3D modeling. This enables the user to create a detailed model of a new idea. There are a few different aspects to 3D design. One of the early stages is the wireframe, which is essentially the bare bones of the design. Then there are elements which can help to fill in the surface or create solid planes in other areas of the design.
Free-form surface and 3D industrial design software are often used together. They typically integrate best when the two functions are performed by the same product. If the user works with separate products, buying them from the same company can help with integration, imports, and exports
Some industrial design software will also have the ability to sketch designs. As with a pad and paper, this can be a quick way to get a visual sense of a new idea. Many programs with this feature have the capability to export the sketch to a more complex program for the next step of the design process.
There are also products which enable a user to make adjustments to free-form surfaces throughout the rest of the project. This can include adjusting the surface once it has been affixed to the 3D model. Some products have analysis tools which can help to determine if a particular design is practical as well.
Overall, the most flexible industrial design software either has several design capabilities or is able to integrate with other products. This can be particularly useful when trying to preserve the integrity of an original design. If every process, from the first sketch to the final model can be integrated, then there is less of a chance that formatting will be lost or excessively altered.