Free CAD Software - Overview

Brief Overview of Free CAD Software

[ You may also be interested in my post on CAD using LibreOffice Draw. ]

[Nov. 17, 2013]
[Dec. 6, 2013 - update]
[April 21, 2015 - update re BRL-CAD]
[Feb. 2019 - update re nanocad]

https://sites.google.com/site/lagadoacademy/useful-links

Purpose of This Page

The intent of this web page is to provide a quick overview of free CAD software. The target audience is not the professional CAD user, but rather the casual CAD user (such as the hobby machinist) who is looking for software for occasional personal use. There are of course many excellent CAD packages available for purchase. The information is current as of the above date(s), and is accurate to the best of my knowledge. However, please note that I do not have the time or resources to fully test and evaluate the software listed below; this information is based partly on personal experience, and mostly on web based research.


MORE INFORMATION --> See also this page for more links to CAD software.

Note: All of the software listed on this page is FREE.

COMMENTS: Did I leave something out? Get something wrong? To leave comments or send email, please visit the home page.

   Operating System
             
 NAME  Linux Mac
 Windows  2D  3D  DXF DWG Features  Review  Wikipedia  Comment
 A9CAD  W       link -  
 BRL-CAD      C C link link link Tutorial series available on BRL-CAD site.
 AutoDesk Fusion 360
       link
link-
 May be free for a limited time only.
 CadStd-Lite
 W    
  link
-  
 DesignSpark Mechanical        link-
 Tutorials are available on product site.
 DoubleCAD XT
       

    -
 Registration required
 DraftSight    
link link link  Registration required
 eMachineShop      

       See comment below.
 FreeCAD        
link link link  
 gCAD3D        


  link
link  
 LibreCAD  
link
link
link  
 LibreOffice-(Draw)
   

C

link
link
link  
 Nanocad        link link - Registration required.
 NaroCAD      
      -  
 OnShape        link link - See comment below.
 OpenSCAD     

link
link
 link See comment below.
 progeCAD-2009-Smart  W      


link
link  
 QCAD   link
  link  Library of over 5000 CAD parts available
 Sketchup-Make
 C W
   
  C
C
  link
link  
 Solid Edge 2D Drafting     



linklink
link A free textbook is available for download. 
 Tinkercad C      link
link
-
 Requires (free) account.

= yes
= no
C
= see Comments below
W = reportedly runs on Linux using Wine (don't count on this unless you actually try it)


Other Evaluation Considerations

In addition to the basic criteria shown in the above table, you may also want to consider the following in choosing CAD software:

  • Ease of learning: Generally speaking, the more features a CAD program supports, the steeper will be the learning curve. If you are only going to use CAD occasionally, it may be worthwhile to go with software which has fewer capabilities, but is easier to learn and use.
  • Manual: Does the software have a manual available? A manual is a useful aid in learning the software, and is also another source of evaluation information.
  • Tutorials: Are there tutorials available, either written or video?
  • Support group: Does the software have a support group which can provide help and answer questions?
  • Export to PDF: If you are going to share your work, the ability to output to PDF will make it possible to share with others who do not use CAD.


Additional comments:

BRL-CAD

Support for other formats: "An assortment of geometric converters to convert to and/or from other geometry formats, including Euclid, ACAD, AutoCAD DXF, TANKILL, Wavefront OBJ, Pro/ENGINEER, JACK (the human factors model for doing workload/usability studies), Viewpoint Data Lab, NASTRAN, Digital Equipment's Object File Format (OFF), Virtual Reality Mark-up Language (VRML), Stereo Lithography (STL), Cyberware Digitizer data, and FASTGEN4."

Draftsight

DraftSight has a Resource Center with manuals and tutorials. Additional tutorials are available on YouTube.

Can be downloaded from the vendor. The Linux version is 32-bit. To install on a 64 bit Ubuntu system, the best advice I have found so far is here (google translation of Spanish page).

eMachineShop

This software seems to be offered primarily as a front end to ordering custom designed parts. I do not know if it is useful for CAD in general.

LibreOffice Draw

LibreOffice Draw is part of the free LibreOffice suite; it is not true CAD, but does have capabilities for making scaled and dimensioned drawings. It does not have true 3D, but does offer some limited 3D features. For more on using LibreOffice draw for CAD, see this link.

OnShape

The following was copied from this link:

"Onshape is a 'freemium' product - Free and Pro version. There is no functional difference between the two.

It runs in a browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera) and therefore on Windows, MAC and Linux.
There is a IOS version out now (iPhone/iPad) and an Android version soon.
The technology used is WebGL. If you want to know if your device supports this, go to (https://get.webgl.org/)

Free users may have any amount of 'Documents' (CAD files) up to 5GB. The Free users may have up to 5 active private Documents at one time. 'Active' means 'available' - like having a library book. The Free user may have unlimited inactive private Documents (the books in the library). Any document may be made public and not have it count against the five. There is a great video (second on the page) here that explains this (http://www.onshape.com/product-tour)

The data is yours an you may use it for free forever. The differences between the 'Free' and 'Pro' versions are; (1) No limits on active private documents and (2) 100GB storage

The business model wants you (the hobbyist and maker) to use this for free. We will never come back and squeeze you for money. Yes I am an employee and am happy to answer any questions this group has."

OpenSCAD

From Wikipedia: "OpenSCAD is a non-visual, programmer-oriented solid modeling tool. OpenSCAD has been recommended as an entry-level CAD tool for designing open source hardware such as scientific tools for research and education."

QCAD

QCAD is free, but with limitations; additional functionality requires a purchase. The free version opens and saves in DXF format only (imports SVG, exports to PDF). Additional parts libraries (add-ons) can be downloaded for free.

Sketchup Make

Runs in Linux under Wine, with some limitations. The Pro Version (which requires purchase) supports DWG and DXF formats.

Solid Edge 2D

"...includes limited symbol libraries (a 2D library with the most popular symbols for mechanical/plumbing is included)..."

Tinkercad

Linux support: Should work on any Linux system wich supports WebGL; see this link.


Related Links


CAD & Linux : "Here we put together links to the homepages of CAD software for Linux. This is only a list of products for Linux."

RepRap - Useful Software Packages : Long list of @d and #d CAD software with brief descriptions and related links for each.

Comments