The 20 Best Free AutoCAD Alternatives in 2022

AutoCAD is a flagship product by Autodesk has been available since 1982, the drafting industry’s juggernaut, designed to help its users with product or building design, manufacturing planning, construction, and civil infrastructure. Using this application you can draft and design both 2D and 3D models.

The software comes with an array of features that make it a versatile tool for many industries, including industry-specific features and toolsets for engineering, architecture, graphic design, city planning, and even project management However, AutoCAD is far from cheap. As of now, an annual subscription costs $1,598, while a monthly subscription costs $220/month.

Fortunately, AutoCAD has some worthy competitors with similar functionality and supporting infrastructure. Here are the 20 Best Free AutoCAD Alternatives in 2022.

1. SolidWorks

Pricing: Free and Premium

For a while, AutoCAD has had pretty good support for 3D modelling, but its greatest strengths remain as a 2D-design and drafting architectural software. Solidworks is a parametric solid modeler focused mainly around 3D designs.

That means you’ll need to have some knowledge of engineering terms rather than just geometric ones.

The latest edition of SolidWorks has excellent features, like the ability to do freehand sketches on touch-screens.

Despite being primarily focused around 3D modelling, its 2D sketching tool still remains functional, even though it’s much lighter than what you find in AutoCAD.

Key Features:

  • Excellent 3D modeling functionality
  • Compatible with DXF files
  • Good 3D-printing compatibility
  • Some command-line functionality
  • Unbeatable in the fields of engineering and automation
  • Assesses weak points in designs
  • Touchscreen-based sketching

2. ZWCAD

Pricing: Free and Premium

ZWCAD is a true AutoCAD alternative.

This 2D and 3D CAD by Guangzhou-based ZWSOFT might not be as mainstream as some other software in this list, but it’s the one that perhaps best reproduces the core features of AutoCAD. At first glance, ZWCAD’s interface seems almost identical to AutoCAD’s, making the transition from one program to the other very smooth.

The similarities go beyond the looks as it also features command bar functions similar to AutoCAD’s, even adopting the same names for most of its commands. Different from most CAD software these days, ZWCAD is only offered with a perpetual license.

The Standard version with 2D drawing features and seamless DWG compatibility is priced at around $1,100 with additional 1-year maintenance. For 3D modeling tools, the Professional version is the one to go for at about $1,500.

Key Features:

  • SmartMouse features
  • Command bar functions

3. TinkerCAD

Pricing: Free

TinkerCAD supports CAD technologies and is mainly used for developing advertising and manufacturing projects. It is also very popular among medical and architectural companies.

Besides, this free AutoCAD alternative allows you to import existing designs and make modifications. TinkerCAD is a completely free CAD software developed by Autodesk. Also, it is a web-based application that you can run right in your browser.

TinkerCAD offers an array of features for 3D design, electronics, coding, and can be used either for professional or educational purposes.

Whether you are a teacher, student, aspiring or professional designer, this online application will certainly be useful for you.

Apart from being user-friendly, this tool doesn’t require installations and complex adjustments. It means that everyone can use TinkerCAD regardless of their skill level.

Key Features:

  • User-friendly
  • 3D printing compatibility
  • Completely free
  • Editing of files
  • Circuits creation
  • Presets
  • Ability to access the models of other users
  • Exporting objects
  • 3D Designs
  • Codeblocks

4. BRL-CAD

Pricing: Free

BRL-CAD is yet another free and open-source alternative to AutoCAD. Actually, they collaborate closely with LibreCAD, the previous AutoCAD alternative on this list. For example, LibreCAD operates under the umbrella of BRL-CAD in Google Summer of Code and Google Code-In.

BRL-CAD can boast of something that not many other alternatives can lay claim to: It is used by the US Military. Yes, the US Military uses the BRL-CAD platform for weapon system modeling. Using BRL-CAD, the US Military is able to test the lethality and potential vulnerabilities of various weapons.

As mentioned, BRL-CAD has been around for three decades. It was first released in 1984, and it first became open source in 2004, but it was first started all the way back in 1979. BRL-CAD is cross-platform, as mentioned. Not only is it available for Windows, Mac, and Linux machines, but it can be used on BSD, Solaris, and other platforms.

Key Features:

  • Hybrid CSG and B-rep kernel
  • Extensive geometry libraries
  • High-performance ray-tracing

5. BricsCAD

Pricing: Free and Premium

This CAD platform is known for its reach features and has several familiar features, including native .dwg applications. If you’re familiar with AutoCAD’s 2008 version, BricsCAD has a somewhat similar interface plus rich features in 2D design and 3D direct modeling.

You can use it with the major operating systems, such as macOS, Windows, and Linux, and hundreds of third-party apps from across the world, which are based on .dwg.

Despite being a paid software like AutoCAD, BricsCAD is more affordable with four editions: Lite, Pro, BIM, and Mechanical. The latter two are feature-packed with tools that aren’t found in AutoCAD, such as Sheet metal, 3D Compare, and BIM. BricsCAD also integrates with the cloud, has a robust rendering engine, recognizes XREFS, and is customizable.

If you just need a basic 3D modeling solution, BricsCAD Shape is completely free.

While it doesn’t have the same powerful features, it’s still an impressive offering for free architectural design software.

Key Features:

  • Easy to use if you’re familiar with AutoCAD
  • Perpetual licenses available
  • Built-in tools such as IFC import/export, architectural direct modeler with BIM database and SketchUp SKP
  • You can read, edit, save AutoCAD files to .dwg
  • AI-enhanced predictive QUAD cursor works faster on large drawings
  • Faster LISP execution
  • Broad customization and development capability
  • Opens complex drawings faster
  • Can use AutoCAD customization

6. CMS IntelliCAD

Pricing: Free and Premium

CMS IntelliCAD was specifically designed to serve as an alternative to AutoCAD. It supports both 2D and 3D modeling techniques, including full BIM support and LISP compatibility.

IntelliCAD works natively with DWG files and allows digital signatures just like AutoCAD. It provides an intuitive layout while still using the ribbon-style menu often found in many CAD programs.

CMS IntelliCAD’s built-in photorealistic rendering capabilities match those of AutoCAD and can be very useful for architectural and interior design applications.

IntelliCAD comes in various versions and, unlike many of the other options on this list, is mostly offered as a perpetual license.

The cloud-based version, known as “Easy Run”, is offered via an annual subscription and can be accessed anywhere. Students and educators are eligible for a free license.

Key Features:

  • Built-in photorealistic rendering
  • BIM import

7. SelfCAD

Pricing: Free

SelfCAD is budget-friendly, easy to use, and full-featured online CAD software designed for all types of users.

With this tool, you can create models, slice, sculpt, and print 3D designs right in your browser. Students, teachers, enthusiasts, and professionals can make the most out of this web-based tool and hone their skills in 3D modeling.

SelfCAD is another AutoCAD alternative free that lets you perform 3D modeling without the need to install any software.

Being packed with numerous powerful but still easy to use tools, SelfCAD will be suitable for both professional designers and enthusiasts. SelfCAD has an intuitive interface and an easy learning curve.

So, even if you are an inexperienced user, you can deal with all its functions without any hassle. It includes multiple elements that you can use for your CAD projects. Also, it is possible to bring your creations to life with the best 3D printers.

Key Features:

  • Fully free
  • 3D Transformation tools
  • Sculpting
  • Versatile options
  • Socializing
  • Extensive library of objects
  • 3D modeling and sketching
  • Deformation tool
  • Drawing
  • 3D Printing
  • Ability to sculpt, model and print 3D objects

8. OpenSCAD

Pricing: Free

OpenSCAD is an excellent, free alternative to AutoCAD. It is free software you can use to create solid computer-aided design objects. It is a cross-platform software, being that it is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux devices.

The website might not look the fanciest, but it is free to use, so you can’t really complain. In addition, it is being maintained and updated regularly, so it is not like you have to download an old version.

The latest version was released just a few months ago (January 2021 – check the download page to see the latest version, or check the news page to see other updates that might interest you). Generally, there are two main ways to use OpenSCAD.

One modeling technique you can use is constructive solid geometry, while another technique is the extrusion of 2D outlines. You can go to the download page to download the latest version and check system requirements – for example, the latest version as of this writing requires a Mac OS X 10.9 or higher or a Windows 7 or higher.

This application is also available for varioud linux distros including Redhat, CentOS, Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, Arch Linux, BSD etc.

9. FreeCAD

Pricing: Free

While LibreCAD works great for 2D models, FreeCAD is one of the best open-source alternatives to AutoCAD for 3D modeling, though it supports 2D as well.

Plus, it’s designed for Windows, macOS, and Linux environments. Parametric modeling is a core feature, allowing you to go back through various changes to build upon them.

Dozens of file types are supported, included DWG. Grouped workbenches make it easy to find the tools you need for specific tasks. More are being added regularly. The large variety of tools in this free architectural design software can easily rival those in premium alternatives and AutoCAD itself. Plus, it’s completely free.

Key Features:

  • Free
  • Support for dozens of file types
  • Active community for support
  • Workbenches for ease of use
  • Cross platform
  • Uses minimal resources to run on even older systems
  • Parametric 2D sketcher

10. ProgeCAD

Pricing: Free and Premium

ProgeCAD is yet another professional CAD that works natively with DWG files and has a familiar user-interface for AutoCAD users.

It offers 3D modeling and fully supports BIM objects and dynamic blocks. Its advanced features include a PDF-to-DWG converter and plenty of tools and plug-ins for architectural applications.

The “artisan” built-in photorealistic render comes with a full yet expandable library of materials and textures. ProgeCAD also comes with Excel-style table editing similar to NanoCAD.

There are two primary versions available for Windows: ProgeCAD Professional and ProgeCAD Architecture.

A third and somewhat different version is available for MacOS, the ICADMAC, which is general-purpose CAD software. All licenses are perpetual.

Key Features:

  • Excel-style table editing
  • PDF-to-DWG converter

11. Blender

Pricing: Free

Blender is a user-friendly and feature-rich 3D creation suite developed by professionals from different spheres.

Being open-source and completely free, this computer graphics program is designed to create video games, special effects, animated clips, and 3D graphics.

Blender is a free 3D modeling program that is designed mainly for professional use.

So, if you are new to CAD design, it is better to pay attention to the above-mentioned AutoCAD alternatives that cater for all types of users.

Many professionals choose Blender as a go-to program for developing their projects. It is sought-after among digital artists, scientists, visual effects experts, and movie and game creators. That is the main reason why Blender is one of the best free animation software.

Besides 3D modeling and editing, Blender offers useful tools for 2D design and video editing.

Key Features:

  • Open-source and free
  • High-quality Path Tracer
  • Python Scripts
  • Compositing
  • Special effects
  • Rendering
  • Speedy Rigging
  • Video editing capabilities
  • Customizable user interface
  • Masking tools

12. QCAD

Pricing: Free and Premium

Like LibreCAD, QCAD is a free and open-source software for two-dimension modeling.

So, if you are looking for a free alternative to AutoCAD for 2D modeling only, consider using QCAD. One of the things I love about QCAD is how simple and easy it is to use.

The interface might not look the most modern or be the fanciest, but it is incredibly intuitive and easy to figure out, even if you have never used QCAD before. QCAD is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux devices.

You can go to the download page to download the free version of QCAD. By default, that comes with a free trial of the Professional version as well – the free trial allows you to work using the Professional version for up to 15 minutes at a time. In other words, you can use the Professional version for free as many times as you want but you can’t use it for more than 15 minutes.

If you can complete your work in 15 minutes, you will have no problem; you can restart the Professional version every 15 minutes. However, if you want, you can only download the free version and not deal with the Professional version or its free trial at all.

Remember, QCAD is not only free but it is open-source, meaning the source code of the free version is public and available to all. I will mention that the Professional version of QCAD is incredibly cheap. It costs just €33 for a single license, which includes free updates for a year.

Key Features:

  • Print to scale
  • Group with blocks
  • Use up to 4,800 CAD parts from the library
  • Print on multiple pages
  • Use up to 35 CAD fonts
  • Many more features

13. DraftSight

Pricing: Free and Premium

Draftsight is a professional-grade alternative to AutoCAD, designed for users looking for better ways to read, write, and share .dwg files. The open 2D CAD software is easy to use and is based on advanced architecture with all the tools you need to create technical 2D drawings.

From professional CAD users to educators and students, DraftSight is available for a free download and activation in a few minutes. It also runs on multiple OS platforms, including Windows 10 64-bit and macOS Mojave and higher.

Through its clear user interface, which makes DraftSight easy to use and learn, you can make accurate revisions, as design elements are stored in layers. You can also create G-Code directly in the program and save and open DXF and DWG files.

It also has a huge design library from which you can use existing designs, do batch-printing, and also access macro recording. However, it only comes in a paid version, so if you’re on a low budget, you can go with the cheapest of its pricing plans.

This is good for students or hobbyists. For businesses, DraftSight offers three plans: Professional, Premium, and Enterprise, with pricing varying with your needs.

As you scale up, the tool begins to compete with AutoCAD, offering advanced capabilities if you’re willing to fork over more for these features.

Key Features:

  • Many features
  • Easy to run with storage space
  • Perpetual license available
  • Compare designs, add symbols, or append PDFs to project files
  • Good for 2D modeling
  • Easy to learn and use
  • Save and open DWG and DXF files

14. NanoCAD

Pricing: Free

NanoCAD is a multi-purpose drafting tool developed by Nanosoft. According to the company’s CTO, Dmitry Popov, it’s the first full-scale CAD program available entirely for free.

It supports DWG files natively and offers a familiar layout and set of tools for AutoCAD users. The software offers Excel-style table-editing tools, expediting documentation work by allowing the embedding of macros and formulas in each cell.

NanoCAD also has open sets of APIs for building applications for task automation, which can be a time saver. Both the free and Plus versions are exclusively for 2D drafting, while the Pro and Mechanica versions include parametric 3D modeling tools and a large library of standard parts for the latter.

Key Features:

  • open APIs
  • Excel-style table editing

15. Fusion 360

Pricing: Free and Premium

Autodesk Fusion 360 is a comprehensive cloud-based CAD/CAE/CAM tool. You can control the entire processes of a project development without the need to switch to multiple programs.

Create designs and models for manufacturing projects, perform advanced analysis, and interact with colleagues within the single platform. Autodesk Fusion 360 will be an important part of your workflow since it offers powerful 3D CAD, CAM, and CAE modeling capabilities.

Due to an extensive number of features, it is considered to be a universal program suitable for various professional spheres. With Fusion 360, you can control the entire process of your project, from planning and completing 3D modeling.

Using this AutoCAD alternative, you can design elements for assembly by means of the advanced modeling tools.

Simulation and optimization tools will allow you to check and validate your project. Moreover, with CAM functionality, you can get the right output you desire.

Also, Fusion 360 offers a straightforward interface that includes familiar Autodesk hotkeys and a convenient toolbar.

Key Features:

  • Ability to create 3D models
  • Collaboration tools
  • Generative Design
  • Documentation
  • Data Management
  • Fast Prototyping/Make
  • Simulation module
  • Expanding the manufacturing capabilities

16. Draft It

Pricing: Free and Premium

Draft It is a free CAD software package created and distributed by Cadlogic. Draft It is free forever, making it a great alternative to AutoCAD, and it allows you to create CAD models using professional tools and save or print your work. I will mention that while Draft It is forever free, there are premium versions as well.

Using the premium versions, you can benefit from additional features. For example, the Plus version, which costs just £20, adds additional drawing tools such as Build fit, Polyline, Polygon etc.

Also, the Plus version allows you to create and save symbols to insert in other drawings and take advantage of the layer management tool.

The Pro version, which costs £99, gives you access to a symbol library with hundreds of ready-made symbols you can insert into drawings. The Pro version also gives you more dimension tools and allows you to upload AutoCAD DWG & DXF files.

Finally, the Architectural version, at £199, gives you access to features like hundreds of architectural symbols and a 3D model viewer. The good news is that if you want, you can keep the free version forever and never pay anything.

If you do decide to upgrade, Draft It is still a lot cheaper than AutoCAD. However, Draft It is NOT cross-platform software like many of the other AutoCAD alternatives mentioned in this list. Draft It is only compatible with Windows computers, both 32 and 64-bit.

Go to the download page to download the free version of Draft It (both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available).

When you download the free version, you will also be downloading trials of the three other versions of Draft It: Plus, Pro, and Architect. Those three other versions can be used for up to 15 days. Once those 15 days are over, you can continue using the free version of Draft It without any limitations.

17. SketchUp

Pricing: Free and Premium

Formerly Google SketchUp, this free tool is an excellent pick for CAD professionals. SketchUp is a 3D-modeling program used in a wide range of applications from interior design; architectural, civil, and mechanical engineering; video game and film design.

Available as a freeware version.

The tool works with several types of files, including DWG, DXF, OBJ, XSI, and more, plus can export HD animations and PDFs.

Key Features:

  • Easy to learn and use
  • Vast library to upload or download drawings
  • Integrates with third-party plugins
  • Easy to import different types of files
  • Good for creating 3D models

18. LeoCAD

Pricing: Free

LeoCAD is a rather interesting alternative to AutoCAD. It is free and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux devices. LeoCAD allows you to design virtual models using LEGO bricks! That’s a rather unique idea, and if that is something you might be interested in for whatever reason, it will make a great alternative to AutoCAD.

The LeoCAD software is compatible with LDraw tools, and it also makes use of the LDraw library, which has over 10,000 parts you can add to models and designs. Also, you can use both LDR and MPD files with LeoCAD. LeoCAD is not only free, but it is also open-source. As such, everyone can contribute a fix or repair a bug.

Of course, LeoCAD has nothing to do with the LEGO company – the LEGO company is not involved with this project in any way.

However, if you are a LEGO fan and you enjoy creating 3D models with the help of computer-assisted designs, consider using LeoCAD – it is free, after all.

19. LibreCAD

Pricing: Free

This is another free alternative program that is feature-rich and commands a large following of customers and designers. LibreCAD is a high-quality open-source 2D-modeling software birthed from QCAD (later known as CADuntu) and resembles AutoCAD in concept and features.

If you’re familiar with AutoCAD, it’s easier to use LibreCAD, especially for Linux users and those who want a free CAD tool that reads DWG files too.

It can also be used with Windows and Apple platforms and is based on Qt, a leading cross-platform application and UI-development framework.

Key Features:

  • Free
  • Reads DWG files and other ytpes
  • Source code is available on GitHub
  • Clutter-free interface
  • Multilingual (more than thirty languages)
  • Can export JPG, SVG, PDF, PNG, and other file types
  • Easy to learn and use
  • Writes DXF files
  • Seamless transition from AutoCAD
  • Not resource-intensive
  • Cross-platform support for Mac, Windows, and Linux OS

20. Vectorworks And ConnectCAD

Pricing: Free and Premium

Vectorworks is not free for everyone, but if you are a student or educator, you will be able to use it for free.

If you are a student, visit the Vectorworks Academic Portal to get a free academic license – if you are a professor, you can use it too. Also, if you are looking for an AutoCAD alternative for your entire class or school, you may be able to get a free version – go to the education page to learn more.

So, what is Vectorworks? It is a complete design, sketch, and modeling tool. While you can’t use it directly with AutoCAD, you can import files you created with AutoCAD. However, you will need the ConnectCAD add-on.

It allows for a hybrid 2D and 3D modeling environment, and it allows you to import and export DXF and DWG files.

Conclusion

That’s pretty much it! So, there are Best Free AutoCAD Alternatives.

If you have any other favorite Best Free AutoCAD Alternatives then don’t forget to share them with us in the comment below. Also, if you liked this article, Share it on your favorite Social media platform.

1 thought on “The 20 Best Free AutoCAD Alternatives in 2022”

  1. The best part of using CMS IntelliCAD was finding out it has all the CAD features I’d already worked with. I was pretty worried about finding a good fit for me, but CMS IntelliCAD is definitely unbeatable. Registered for free and had a free trial before payment, I’m glad I could test it out before any payment. CMS IntelliCAD is definitely worth the hype.

    Reply

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