Computer-Aided Design (commonly abbreviated as CAD) has become an integral part of the process by which the world advances.
CAD enables you to design anything from small electronic components to large buildings, dams, and more.
Naturally, as the majority of professionals use CAD programs to design things, they have become expensive. And, if you’re a student or a freelancer, the prospect of purchasing expensive CAD software becomes a pipe dream.
However, there is no need to be concerned as we have compiled a list of the top ten free CAD software that is just as good as the paid versions. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the best free CAD software available in 2021.
Best Free CAD Software for Windows
We’ve compiled a list of the top ten free CAD software applications you can use in 2021.
The list includes both free and premium software and the Student’s edition of premium software. The latter is advantageous if your institution uses a particular tool, and you must know as well.
As the name implies, FreeCAD is free and open-source CAD software popular with both beginners and professionals.
If you are familiar with the fundamentals of CAD modeling, this is the software for you.
Due to FreeCAD’s multipurpose behavior and intuitive interface, an educator or programmer can also make the most of it.
Despite being a free tool, FreeCAD’s user interface is nearly identical to professional CAD software. Additionally, it includes a slew of features.
The Parametric Model is arguably the most crucial feature of FreeCAD. It enables you to go back and edit previous actions to achieve the best results.
Additionally, the software features a modular architecture, enabling you to install plugins to add the features you require.
Additionally, from the perspective of an advanced user, its ability to be integrated into an app via Python modules makes it quite useful.
Additionally, FreeCAD includes the Robot Simulation module, which enables you to study robots’ movement, and a rendering module that allows you to export your project to external renderers.
To summarize, FreeCAD is an excellent choice if you’re looking for free CAD software for beginners. I’d argue that professionals can use it as well, given the tools and features included.
While nanoCAD is not completely free, it is significantly less expensive than its competitors. And it is for this reason that I have included it on this list.
It is a low-cost CAD application that includes advanced tools for sketching and creating 2D and 3D designs.
Whichever industry you work in – architecture, manufacturing, or mechanical engineering – this tool provides all the necessary drafting and drawing extensions.
The most appealing feature of nanoCAD is its complete compatibility with the DWG file format.
Therefore, if you decide to relocate your project in the future, this feature will protect you.
Additionally, nanoCAD includes several end-user APIs for automating complex CAD designs. It can benefit businesses that create similar products regularly without having to go through the difficult drafting phase.
Additionally, nanoCAD is a standalone application. As a result, those who prefer to work with desktop programs will appreciate the program’s appearance and classic toolbar design.
To summarize, if you’re willing to pay a one-time fee of $180 rather than a monthly or annual subscription, nanoCAD is an excellent choice.
Assume you’re at a friend’s house when you receive a call to design a simple 3D model. While your friend’s PC does not contain any CAD software, you have access to a fast internet connection.
In such cases, Tinkercad provides a solution. It is a web-based solution for creating 3D digital designs. The best part about Tinkercad is that it requires no prior experience and is completely free to use.
The program lacks some of the features found in other CAD software. However, if you’re looking for a simple platform for designing models, particularly for 3D printing, Tinkercard is the best option available.
Additionally, Tinkercard is a member of the Autodesk family, which supports various integrations and file formats.
What I love most about Tinkercad is how it entices children to learn CAD. While this may not seem like an enticing prospect for young audiences, the lectures are a lot of fun.
There is a great deal to learn here. You can learn about 3D design, electronics design, and programming blocks, among other things. Additionally, tutorials are demonstrating how to create Minecraft models.
There is a gallery where you can view and share the work of other users. Additionally, Tinkercad integrates with 3D printing services, supports HTML5, and includes a robust geometry library.
Tinkercad is an excellent online platform for learning about computer-aided design (CAD), and it is the ideal CAD software for 3D printing, even more so when the service is free.
Onshape is a cutting-edge CAD application that is renowned for its outstanding design repository and assemblies.
Onshape is a cloud-based design platform, in contrast to other software programs: standalone, standalone desktop applications.
You can use a browser to produce interactive solid and surface models without fear of losing your design progress.
As Onshape is a browser-based platform, all of your actions are automatically saved to the cloud, protecting you from data loss.
Loss of design progress is a significant concern in computer-aided design systems as your project grows larger over time.
Apart from that, Onshape includes three primary design tools: components, assemblies, and drawings.
From its unique database of architecture designs, you can produce extremely structured and detailed assemblies.
Additionally, you can easily import DWG, DW, or DXF files for drawing purposes if you previously worked with Autodesk.
You’re probably thinking that, as Onshape is a premium, expensive piece of software, why are we recommending it?
The software is completely free for students, educators, and hobbyists.
Therefore, what else do you require? Capable cloud-based design software that includes all of the necessary modern tools. Onshape is, in some ways, one of the best free CAD software available right now.
In contrast to the other CAD software on this list, LibreCAD is a two-dimensional modeling application for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It is a free and open-source CAD program that can be used for both personal and commercial purposes.
LibreCAD makes use of several libraries from BRL-CAD, another CAD program.
It includes an interactive geometry designer, ray-tracing rendering and analysis, and a benchmark suite.
You can create geometric 2D designs, circuit boards, and mathematical figures, among other things, through a highly customizable interface.
Additionally, it supports the DWG and DWF file formats, allowing you to easily import projects saved in AutoCAD or other CAD applications.
Additionally, you can export your two-dimensional design in the DXF, SVG, and PDF formats. LibreCAD also supports plugins, which means that advanced tools can be added simply by installing a third-party plugin.
If you’re looking for a free CAD program suitable for beginners interested in 2D simulation, LibreCAD is the best option.
AutoCAD requires little introduction to 3D modeling, as it has been an international standard for many years. Although it is a premium program, you can obtain a one-year student license for free.
If you were unaware, AutoCAD is also part of the Autodesk family, and it is prohibitively expensive for students.
However, the company recognizes that if students cannot use AutoCAD, they will not learn it.
And this will have a negative effect on future sales as those students graduate and become professionals.
AutoCAD’s student edition includes all of the software’s features. When compared to AutoCAD’s $200-per-month subscription plan, this student version is truly exceptional.
You could even create complex assemblies and a variety of metal designs in the program and simulate them. AutoCAD boasts an incredible array of advanced tools and palettes.
Additionally, AutoCAD includes a sizable amount of documentation that can be used to familiarize yourself with the tool’s basic and advanced features.
Therefore, if you are a student, I strongly advise you to download AutoCAD, which is completely free and includes many features.
If you are comfortable with the idea of creating 3D CAD objects using a textual description language, you may find OpenSCAD to be an efficient free CAD software.
There are numerous scenarios in which you may require such an interface, particularly if you work in a professional field.
When modeling things, you must be as precise as possible, and this is where OpenSCAD shines.
The software includes a comprehensive manual that details the parameters that should be considered when providing descriptions.
It includes an impressive amount of documentation, which will prove beneficial in the long run, especially if you are just getting started.
Because the user experience is developer-centric, you can use OpenSCAD if you’re comfortable with that. OpenSCAD is compatible with Windows, Linux, and macOS operating systems.
According to developers, OpenSCAD is ideal for designing because it eliminates the need for menus and shortcuts in favor of pure code.
This does not mean, however, that the software is suitable for beginners. If you are new to CAD, this is not the course for you.
8. Fusion 360
Fusion 360 is a CAD software program developed by Autodesk. It is provided for free to make computer-aided design available to students, creators, and casual users.
Fusion 360 places a premium on conceptual development, making it an excellent tool for learning. You will need to learn the fundamentals of 3D Design & Modeling, Simulation, and Generative Design, among others.
The best feature of Fusion 360 is that you can complete all tasks in one location. You can create three-dimensional designs, render complex mechanical structures, create custom tool paths, run simulations, and collaborate via the cloud, among other things.
Additionally, if your project grows in scope in the future, you can seamlessly migrate it to CAM or CAE software. That is incredible, isn’t it?
Apart from that, you can also use a single platform to combine design elements from multiple projects, design a prototype, and even manufacture.
That is the best feature of an Autodesk-powered program.
Overall, Fusion 360 is among the best free CAD software programs available, and if you are new to this field, this tool will serve as your guide.
9. ZBrushCoreMini (Earlier Sculptris)
ZBrushCoreMini is yet another free CAD program that specializes in 3D Sculpting and Modeling. It is manufactured by Pixologic, a market leader in the industry.
The software has a professional User Experience and can be learned in a short period of time by anyone who understands the fundamentals of creative design.
Numerous features are included that are extremely beneficial when it comes to design and development.
For example, both ZBrush and standard-level navigation are supported.
ZBrushCoreMini also supports plugins, which allow you to extend the features and productivity of the application.
Additionally, there are some molding and design-related features available on the official website. This CAD software is compatible with macOS and Windows systems that have at least 1 GB of RAM.
Sculptris also includes the GoZ button, which allows you to export your mesh to ZBrush, dynamic tessellation, an immersive interface, and projection painting.
To summarize, if you’re looking for free CAD software for newbies, ZBrushCoreMini is an excellent choice. Additionally, it is capable of 3D printing fairly well.
SketchUp is a professional-grade 3D modeling software used in various industries, including interior design, architecture, engineering, and video game development.
As you might imagine, SketchUp is a paid application, but it does include a free tier for personal users and students. However, the free service is only available via the company’s web platform.
You can create three-dimensional models, render them, and save your work in the DWG format.
One notable addition to SketchUp is its open-source model assembly library and 3D Warehouse, a sizable collection of 3D models posted by other users.
Additionally, because it is a Ruby-based tool, it supports extensions. SketchUp’s Extension Warehouse is a critical feature for those seeking increased productivity.
Additionally, if you want to use the native app, you can download a 30-day trial of SketchUp Pro. Thus, there is ample opportunity to inspect it before purchase.
In general, SketchUp’s free web-based version is an incredible platform for both enthusiasts and experts.
If Tinkercard proves to be too basic for your needs, Sketchup is the ideal replacement, as it offers powerful technologies without many restrictions on the web.
Download above Free CAD Apps to Create 3D Masterpieces!
These are the free CAD programs available for creating 2D or 3D parametric models.
I’ve attempted to include simple-to-use and approachable CAD software and some pro tools requiring some learning.
Numerous of these programs offer affordable student versions, which should be a boon to students.
Therefore, if you enjoyed this article, be sure to peruse our other articles on inexpensive or free professional software.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you can also checkout Best File Sharing Sites and Tools for Easy Collaboration.