Recently I’ve started the process of putting together a (very simple) manufacturing operation focused on (relatively simple) “modular livestock handling & containment systems.” The further we get, the more I realize the need for CAD renderings. I have a BS in Ag Business and a few credits toward a MBA, while the two guys that have helped me with this have production-level experience with welding and fabrication. (In other words, an elementary level of CAD proficiency at best, although I might have someone with a background in industrial design to help me get started).
High-resolution 3D renderings are a need. Stress testing/ virtual prototyping is a want (taking a day to build a prototype and spending $500 on materials just to throw it in the “cut this up later” pile is getting old), but I’m not opposed to sending the CAD drawings to a freelance engineer to give recommendations. A built-in selection of common materials and steel grades (these things are going to be constructed mostly out of square tube and sheeting, only a few fabricated pieces) would be great. Simple enough that I could learn how to use it myself over time would be ideal.
I have had the same problem a few years ago, as I am an old engineer and I didn't use CAD software and I didn't familiar with those. So, I start with AUTO-CAD but after some days I found solidworks software which is very simpler. I suggest you go through it. It has a very good simulation and you can use it easily. If you have any questions or ambiguity you can find your answers on the internet or ask me in this forum.