In this article, we give you the 10 Best Open-Source and Free CAD Software You Can Use. Computer-Aided Design (usually referred to as CAD) has become an integral factor that moves the world forward. CAD allows you to design everything from tiny pieces of electronic equipment to large buildings, dams, and more.
Generally, CAD programs have become expensive as most professionals use them to design things. And if you’re a student or a freelancer, purchasing expensive CAD software becomes a faraway dream. But there is don’t worry about it as we have carefully selected a list of the 10 Best Open-Source and Free CAD Software which are as great as the paid ones. So without any delay, let’s go over the best free CAD software.
Best Free CAD Software (Updated May 2021)
We have collected a listing of the top 10 free CAD software you can use in 2021.
nanoCAD is not completely free; it is a lot cheaper than its rivals. And that is why I have added it to this list. It is an inexpensive CAD software, which allows advanced tools for drawing and creating 2D and 3D designs.
It doesn’t matter which industry you belong to– architecture, manufacturing, or mechanical engineering– this tool offers you all the drafting and drawing extensions. The great part about nanoCAD is that it’s completely compatible with the DWG file format. So in case, if you require to move your project elsewhere in the future, this feature will have your back.
Moreover, nanoCAD brings several end-user APIs, which you can use to automate complex CAD designs. It can assist those companies who regularly create similar products without going through the grinding drafting phase.
Also, nanoCAD is an offline app. So those who love working on a desktop program will enjoy its appearance and traditional toolbar design. To summarize, if you’re willing to pay a one-time payment of $180 instead of spending a monthly or yearly subscription, then nanoCAD is a great option.
When it gets to 3D Modelling, AutoCAD doesn’t need much introduction since it has been an industry standard for many years. It’s a premium program; however, you can get this CAD software for free through a one-year student license. If you didn’t know, AutoCAD is also part of the Autodesk family, and it is super costly, such that no student can afford it. Nevertheless, the company also knows that if students can’t use AutoCAD, they won’t learn it. And that will damage the sales in the future when those students become professionals and graduates.
In its student variant, you get all the traits of AutoCAD. When compared to the $200 per-month plan of AutoCAD, this student version is indeed superb. You can build complex assemblies, a variety of metal designs and simulate them within the program. The variety of advanced tools and pallets on AutoCAD is unbelievable.
Moreover, AutoCAD has a wide-enough range of documentation made available, which you can use to know the basic & advanced traits of the tool. So if you’re a student, I would highly suggest you go for AutoCAD as it’s free and brings tons of features.
SketchUp is a professional-grade software utilized for 3D Modelling in several industries such as interior design, engineering, architecture, video game design development, etc. As you may have suspected, SketchUp is a paid tool, but it gives a free tier for personal users and students. The free service, nevertheless, is only available on its web platform.
You can create 3D models, render them and save your project in DWG format. 1 of the noticeable additions of SketchUp includes its open source library of model assemblies and 3D Warehouse, a large enough collection of 3D models uploaded by other users.
Moreover, as it’s a tool developed using Ruby, there’s support for extensions as well. The Extension Warehouse of SketchUp is a vital feature for those who need enhanced productivity. Moreover, if you want to use its native app, you can check out SketchUp Pro, available for a 30-day trial. Therefore, there’s plenty of time to check it out before you buy it.
Overall, the free web variant of SketchUp is an excellent tool for beginners and professionals. If Tinkercard turns out to be too basic for your requirements, then Sketchup would be the perfect alternative as it allows advanced tools without many limitations on the web.
If you’re okay with using a textual description language to generate 3D CAD Objects, you may find OpenSCAD to be a useful free CAD Software. There are several outlines where you might need such an interface, especially when you are in a professional field. You’ll have to be as specific as you can when you model things, and you can see how useful OpenSCAD is in such cases.
The software begins with an extensive document that informs you about the parameters to be kept in mind when you give descriptions. It gives an impressive level of documentation that will help in the long run, especially if you are just starting out.
The UI is developer-centric, so you can go with OpenSCAD if you are okay with it. OpenSCAD is obtainable for Windows, Linux, and macOS devices. Developers state that they find OpenSCAD excellent for designing, as they do not have to deal with menus or shortcuts but pure code. Nevertheless, this means that the software is not for beginners. If you’re just starting with CAD, this is not for you.
Suppose you’re at your buddy’s home and get a call to design a simple 3D Model. Now, your friend’s PC doesn’t have any CAD software installed in it, but you do have a powerful internet connection at hand. In such cases, you have a resolution in Tinkercad. It is an online resolution for 3D Digital Designs. The excellent thing about Tinkercad is that it does not require any previous experience, and it’s free to use.
The program is not as feature packed as other CAD software. However, if you want a simple platform to design models, especially for 3D printing, then Tinkercard is the great solution out there. Furthermore, Tinkercard is part of the Autodesk family, so you see all kinds of integration and file format support.
The thing I like the most about Tinkercad is that it entices youngsters into learning CAD. It might not look like a compelling prospect to young audiences, but the lectures are fun-filled. There is a lot to learn here. You can learn 3D design, code blocks, electronics design, and more. There are tutorials on how to create Minecraft models.
There’s a gallery where you can see what other users are designing and sharing. Some other traits of Tinkercad are integration with 3D Printing services, support for HTML5, and a powerful geometry library. Tinkercad is a great online program to start learning CAD, and it is the perfect CAD software for 3D printing. More so, when the service doesn’t cost you a dime.
The Onshape is modern-age CAD software that is known for its great design assemblies and repository. Unlike other software applications that are standalone desktop apps, Onshape is a cloud-based design platform. You can build complex solid and surface models simply from a browser and without any fear of losing your design progress.
As Onshape is a web-based program, all your actions save to the cloud instantly, thus, safeguarding you against data loss. In computer aided design systems, the loss of design progress is a huge concern as your project expands over time. Other than that, Onshape comes with 3 main design tools: parts, assemblies, and drawings.
You can build highly structured and detailed assemblies from its unparalleled database of architecture design. And for drawing purposes, you can simply import DW, DWG, or DXF files if you were working on Autodesk before.
You must be considering that Onshape is a premium software and an expensive one at that, so why are we suggesting it? The software is available to educators, students, and hobbyists at no cost. So, what more do you want? A capable cloud-based software with all the advanced tools for your design needs. In a way, Onshape is 1 of the best free CAD software right now.
As the name implies, it is free of cost and open-source CAD software, and it’s a top choice among both beginners and professionals. If you’re well-versed with CAD modeling basics, then this software would be the best pick for you. A programmer or educator can also get the best out of FreeCAD, given its multi-purpose behavior and intuitive interface.
Despite being a free tool, the user interface of FreeCAD is almost on par with professional CAD software. It further packs in a ton of features. Probably the most vital feature of FreeCAD is the Parametric Model. It makes you go back and edit your actions so that you get the best results. The software also has a modular architecture, allowing you to install plug-ins for additional features you need.
Additionally, from an advanced user’s perspective, its ability to be implemented into an application through Python modules makes it quite useful. Additional traits of FreeCAD include the Robot Simulation module that helps you analyze the movement of robots, a rendering-module for exporting your project into external renderers, and more. To sum up, if you’re looking for free CAD software for beginners, then FreeCAD is an excellent choice. I would state, even professionals can use it given the tools and features it packs.
For the uninformed, Fusion 360 is CAD software developed by Autodesk. It is obtainable free of charge to make computer-aided designing accessible to creators, students, and even hobbyists. Fusion 360 stresses building the concepts 1st, making it an outstanding tool for learning. You’ll have to go through all the basics of 3D Design & Modeling, Simulation, Generative Design, and more.
The great part about Fusion 360 is that you can do everything in one place. You can produce 3D designs, render complicated mechanical structures, run simulations, design custom toolpaths, collaborate through the cloud, and more.
Additionally, if you expand your project in the future, you can move it to CAE or CAM software seamlessly. That’s awesome, right? Besides that, you can also unify design elements from different projects, create a prototype, and even manufacture on a single platform.
That’s the great part about a program powered by Autodesk. All in all, Fusion 360 is 1 of the best free CAD software, and if you’re a beginner in this profession, then this tool is going to be your trailblazer.
Unlike other CAD software in this listing, LibreCAD is a 2D modeling software for Windows, Linux, and macOS. It is an open source and free CAD software that you can use for commercial and personal use. LibreCAD utilizes some of the libraries from another CAD program called BRL-CAD.
It allows interactive geometry design, ray-tracing for rendering and analysis, benchmark suite, and more. You can build geometric 2D designs, circuit boards, mathematical figures, etc., in a highly customizable interface, which is nice. Moreover, it supports DWG and DWF file formats, so you can easily import your saved projects from AutoCAD or other CAD applications.
Furthermore, you can export your 2D design in SVG, DXF, and PDF formats. LibreCAD has help for plugins as well, so you can add advanced tools just by installing a 3rd-party plugin. If you’re looking for free CAD software for beginners interested in 2D modeling, LibreCAD is the best program out there.
ZBrushCoreMini (Earlier Sculptris)
ZBrushCoreMini is free CAD software that focuses on 3D Sculpting & 3D Modelling. It is made by 1 of the industry leaders named Pixologic. The tool has a professional UI and can be learned by anyone in a lesser time, given that you understand the basics of creative designing.
There are several traits here that are very helpful when it comes to designing. For example, there is support for ZBrush navigation & standard-level navigation.
ZBrushCoreMini even gives support for plug-ins, using which you can extend features and productivity. Plus, there are some sculpting and designing-oriented traits, which you can find on the official site. This CAD software is possible for macOS and Windows with a system requirement of 1 GB of RAM or more.
Other outstanding features of Sculptris include the GoZ button, which allows you to transfer your mesh to ZBrush, Dynamic Tessellation, Projection Painting, Immersive Interface, and more. To sum up, if you’re on the lookout for free CAD software for beginners, then ZBrushCoreMini is a great pick. Also, it can do 3D printing much well.
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Use These Open-Source and Free CAD Software to Create 3D Masterpieces.
So, These are the free CAD software that you can utilize to create your 2D or 3D parametric models. I have tried to include easy-to-use and approachable CAD software along with some pro tools that might need a bit of learning. A number of these software allow inexpensive student versions, which should come as a boon for learners.