11 Best AutoCAD Alternatives of 2023 – The history of AutoCAD begins in 1982 when it was the only program with which two/three-dimensional drawings were made in the engineering, architectural, mechanical and electrical engineering fields. Over the years they have improved considerably and today it is the best software ever most used to create the most grandiose works that can be buildings another 200 floors up to the engine of a Ferrari.
Of course, there are other paid programs but they are not up to it. Since AutoCAD is not affordable for all budgets, perhaps it is better to start with its free alternatives. I have collected the top 11 open source programs that you can use to make your projects or practice.
AutoCAD was the first of the CAD programs to allow you to create drawings in two or three dimensions so that they can be used in various fields of engineering, architecture, mechanics, electronics, and so on. Unfortunately, however, the high price of AutoCAD very often makes it a software not affordable for all budgets. Here, therefore, is a special article containing what in my opinion are the best free alternatives to AutoCAD .
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TOP 10 FREE ALTERNATIVES TO AUTOCAD
FreeCAD is a completely free CAD designed especially to create 3D models and is mainly aimed at mechanical engineering but is also good in other engineering applications such as, for example, architecture. FreeCAD uses the main FCStd format but is also able to import and export in other formats such as STEP, DXF, SVG, DAE, IGES, STL and others.
FreeCAD also allows you to extend its functionality through the use of special plugins and has a very complete graphical interface (for more information on the features of FreeCAD I suggest you consult this page in any case; here, instead, you can find the index of his guide online). FreeCAD is available in many languages, including Windows, macOS and Linux.
Sketchups (formerly Google Sketchup) is a 3D modeling program that you can use for architecture, interior design, civil and mechanical engineering, film, and video games. There is also a paid version with additional features called SketchUp Pro.
SketchUp features a 3D gallery that allows you to search for models of furniture, houses, cars, statues… and you can also make your work available to the community.
BRL-CAD is a free CAD of the constructive solid geometry type , i.e. it allows you to create solid models through the use of Boolean algebra, and can be used above all for graphic applications but, if desired, it can also be easily used for ‘engineering. BRL-CAD, among other things, also includes a geometry editor, ray tracing support, various tools to manage images and signals, a series of libraries that also allow collaboration with other software, as well as support for ballistic and electromagnetic analysis.
BRL-CAD allows you to import files in DXF and STL while it also allows you to export them in EUCLID, IGES, X3D and TANKILL in addition to other formats. BRL-CAD is available for Windows, macOS and Linux, in English
QCAD is a CAD software released under the GPL license that allows you to create and print 2D drawings. QCAD uses DXF files and lately it also manages the DWG format, it allows you to export files in different formats, but unfortunately it doesn’t support DXF layouts and it doesn’t even allow you to export to VRML and SVG. QCAD is available for Windows, macOS and Linux in multiple languages.
Based on the QCAD software libraries, LibreCAD is another CAD for 2D drafting released under the GPL license. Most of the menus and commands in LibreCAD are very similar to those of AutoCAD, thus making it a program that is particularly easy to use by all those users already accustomed to using the latter.
LibreCAD only allows you to import files in the DXF format, however, it allows you to use many other formats to export files. LibreCAD is available for Windows, macOS and Linux in several languages.
Archimedes is an open source 2D CAD software, released under the EPL license , developed with the collaboration of some professional architects with the intention of creating a better program than AutoCAD, making it available completely free of charge.
Among the various features offered by Archimedes are basic drawing tools, export in SVG format, import in XML and ARC, and a good localization in many Languages although it also exists in English and Portuguese. Unfortunately Archimedes still lacks the export to other CAD formats, although the DXF one is under development. Archimedes is available free of charge for Windows, macOS and Linux environments.
MEDUSA4 Personal is a powerful free 2D/3D CAD package that is part of the MEDUSA4 family of CAD solutions. Its extensive design capabilities, similar to the most advanced commercial package, include basic 3D, parametric module, color image integration, as well as sheet metal design. MEDUSA4 Personal is available free of charge in Italian, French, English, German and Japanese only for Windows operating systems.
SOLID EDGE 2D DRAFTING
Solid Edge 2D Drafting , from Siemens, is free 2D CAD software – for businesses and individuals – that allows you to create, edit and view both DWG format files and Solid Edge format files. Thanks to a very simple and intuitive graphical interface, the various tools available, and support for the most widespread international standards, Solid Edge 2D Drafting offers everything necessary to work in fundamental areas such as drafting, annotations and dimensioning. Solid Edge 2D Drafting is available in several languages, exclusively for 64-bit Windows operating systems.
DoubleCAD XT is one of the best free alternatives to AutoCAD LT as, thanks to its similarity to the latter both in appearance and in menus, commands and icons, it allows it to be used without major problems by those who are already used to using AutoCAD LT.
There is also the paid version, called TurboCAD LTE Pro, which offers a few more features than DoubleCAD XT, however this latest version is already more than enough since it does not have any kind of limitation, in fact it offers the possibility to open and save files in DWG, DXF and DWF formats but, if desired, can also use the models offered by SketchUp and SketchUp Pro.
Although it can be used for both private and commercial purposes, in order to download and use DoubleCAD XT it is still necessary to register via an appropriate email address. At the moment DoubleCAD XT is only available for Windows operating systems and is only in English.
nanoCAD is another of the best free AutoCAD alternatives of the 2D/3D type. It has a graphical interface very similar to AutoCAD and allows you to create, read and open files in DWG format.
Unfortunately, however, nanoCAD is only available for Windows in English and Russian, and in order to proceed with downloading it, you must necessarily register via your email address. However, just like DoubleCAD XT, you can use nanoCAD for both private and commercial purposes.
OPENSCAD is a CAD program that allows you to create constructive solid geometry 3D solid models. However, it is not an interactive modeler but rather a 3D compiler, i.e. it creates a 3D model by first reading a specific script , also coming from AutoCAD 2D DXF files. OpenSCAD is available for Windows, macOS and Linux in English only.
Naturally, in addition to these, there are also other free alternatives to AutoCAD, or in any case other alternatives that are sold at a much more accessible price than the latter. However I believe that those listed, while each having its pros and cons, are just the best free alternatives to AutoCAD .