AutoCAD is a versatile app that lets you draw 3D projects right from the computer. But non-professional 3D modelers from around the globe are irritated by its steep license price, around $1,500 per year. While large companies can afford the cost, beginners and hobbyists can opt for the best free AutoCAD alternatives that offer similar features and functions.
Dozens of software developers out there provide myriad choices of AutoCAD alternatives. It may sound like good news but in fact, it gives you an extra challenge to find trustworthy programs that are worthwhile. If you are not careful, you will end up downloading scams with bad features. Before making a mistake, you’d need to check this out!
10 Best Free AutoCAD Alternatives
The following AutoCAD alternatives are trustworthy and receive good user feedback. You can choose one that suits your taste or work requirements. The following programs are free so you can explore the features and upgrade your skills without spending a dime.
FreeCAD is an open-source and free software to replace AutoCAD. This program is massively used by beginners who want to learn 3D modeling without purchasing specific software. It helps make creative products and architecture projects through a number of features. However, FreeCAD is not designed to tackle organic shapes or animation so it isn’t suitable for movies or video games.
Among other features brought by FreeCAD, the ability to modify using the Python language is the best. It makes the program easy to use and to learn, which is perfect for beginners who start to learn 3D modeling. A week of studying is enough to be familiar with the features and functions offered by this program.
Despite being a free program, the software offers generous features to indulge in 3D modelers. Not only does it work well for 3D modeling but it is also dependable for 2D modeling. Hobbyists or freelancers can take advantage of this software.
Apart from all things to love about FreeCAD, there are some drawbacks reported by users. It includes slow support and difficulty in texturing.
If you don’t mind a program that supports only 2D modeling, LibreCAD is a good bet. This CAD software is a great choice for beginners, thanks to its user-friendly interface and its cross-platform support ranging from Windows, Linux, to Apple. The program is also easy to use so you can upgrade your 2D modeling skill.
LibreCAD supports around 30 languages, so you won’t find it as a barrier. Despite its limited modeling function, the software allows you to save the project in a variety of file types such as PDF, PNG, JPG, and SVG. The program offers some useful tools to help design your 2D projects including circles, lines, and other basic tools. It also comes with the ability to create layers.
What makes it better? LibreCAD suits best for any computer, thanks to its lightweight size. It will neither take much space on your computer nor slow down the device. Currently, the program is supported by a great community that helps improve its performance through add-ons and extra features.
SketchUp Free is a trustworthy alternative to AutoCAD. The 3D modeling software comes with a lot of features to visualize your ideas and make creative models. Once acquired by Google in 2006, the company was then acquired by Trimble in 2012 until today. The Free version was released in 2017 and it’s a web-based program that replaces SketchUp Make.
Being a web-based app, SketchUp Free is highly flexible as you don’t need to download any program to enjoy the features. This program is beginners-friendly so newcomers are welcome to upgrade their modeling competence. It provides video tutorials and a community that will answer your questions.
SketchUp Free is a versatile program to handle 2D and 3D projects. You can take down and take down the palette, providing you with frequently-used tools at the front. You can easily create lighting effects, textures, and animations more than any other free programs. If you are pursuing a career in 2D and 3D animation, this program can be a great tool to improve your skills.
If you are looking for a CAD alternative that works well for 2D and 3D models, SolveSpace is worth the thought. The free and open-source software is simple, allowing newcomers in computer-aided design to explore their abilities. It has myriad features, including adding holes to the design. This feature is essential, especially if you are using 3D printers to create specific structures from the pieces.
Among the key features offered by SolveSpace is a user-friendly and simple interface. It looks clean and dated, though it can be too simple for advanced users. In case you are running an old computer, this software is an advantage. Thanks to the lightweight size that won’t make your computer sluggish.
SolveSpace basically uses a parametric modeler with the ability to perform the mechanical simulation. Released in 2008, it comes with a lot of features such as 2D and 3D modeling, CAM data preparation, mechanism design, and plane and solid geometry. Overall, SolveSpace is one of the best free AutoCAD alternatives you can count on.
NanoCAD is developed by NanoSoft, a Russian company. The software can be downloaded for free, giving more opportunities for beginners, hobbyists, or freelancers to build their creative 3D projects. While the demo version gives you NanoSoft watermark, registering your name and email lets you enjoy the full version for free. NanoCAD also provides paid add-ons that allow you to enjoy more functionalities and features.
Despite being a free program, NanoCAD comes with generous features. There are copious features to enjoy CAD modelings such as integration with other software, quick selection tools, and a wide array of editing tools. If you are more into video games, the developer provides the latest update that includes Direct X support.
NanoCAD is a versatile alternative to AutoCAD that can be enjoyed without paying a penny. It delivers an intuitive interface that makes it ideal for newcomers with basic 2D and 3D modeling skills.
6. 3D Slash
Specifically designed for 3D printers, this program can be opted to replace the pricey AutoCAD. If you are already accustomed to typical tools of CAD software, using this program can be a bit shocking. Unlike other CAD programs that come with confusing interfaces, 3D Slash brings a lot of fun. The creator was inspired by Minecraft that enables kids to produce 3D models easily and quickly.
From that unique inspiration, 3D Slash was developed to give a similar convenience. It adopts the ease of games and allows adult users to create 3D models without spending too much time and effort. You can use cube shapes to create a 3D model. It also provides attractive tools such as trowels, hammers, and chisels to remove, shape, and add cubes.
As it is specifically designed for 3D printers, 3D Slash makes your printing much easier. The blocks don’t give too much burden for the printer so you can print 3D models with accurate shape and design. Overall, 3D Slash is a simple program that works great for beginners. Students can take advantage of this software to learn more about 3D modeling.
If you are seeking a CAD program that has been around for a while, BRL-CAD is a good option. This software is among the oldest programs which have been used by the US military to design their weapons. It has more than 400 tools, allowing you to create innovative 3D models and creative projects. Until today, this alternative has more than a million lines of code.
BRL-CAD has myriad features that are useful in creating 3D models. You can draw circles, boxes, lines, and geometric features. The software also supports lighting and shading features as well as geometric objects combination. Let’s say that BRL-CAD has all the tools that you need to create 3D objects.
Despite its old age, the software is constantly updated. CAD designers from around the globe can enjoy better programs with improvements. What makes it better? The program is ideal for kids who learn 3D modeling or adult users who need to visualize their creative ideas.
Archimedes is a CAD software specifically designed for architects. Unlike other CAD software that runs for video games or creative products, this open-source program mainly focuses on building plans and architectural structures. Delivering a robust system, Archimedes is a trustworthy alternative to AutoCAD.
The software was founded in 2005 and it was constantly updated until the program designers disappeared. There may be no updates but you can still download the original program from its official website. Worry not, the software is still useful to draw building plans.
Archimedes that focuses on geometric design boasts a handful of features such as measurement, filleting, and trimming. It also features regular autosave, so you don’t need to worry of losing your work when something happens to your computer. Are you afraid of the language barrier? Good news, this software supports several languages such as Italian, English, and Portuguese.
Houdini is an attractive 3D modeling software that is suitable for professional designers. It requires advanced modeling skills, so newcomers shouldn’t upgrade themselves before using this program. Houdini can easily tackle 3D modeling projects with impressive features such as liquid effect and reuse objects.
If you are into video games, Houdini is a great option as it can generate breathtaking backdrops. The 3D models are also consistent in every rendering process. The software uses a procedure that resembles parametric modeling for fantastic 3D objects.
Houdini is basically a free program, and yet you can upgrade to a paid version that brings a lot more features. This is a cross-platform software that works nicely on Linux, Windows, and Mac.
Last but not least, OpenSCAD is ready to improve your 3D modeling experience through copious features. The free program is specifically designed for advanced users as it interacts with code instead of a computer mouse. You will need to use the OpenSCAD script to choose geometric objects and their location.
As one of the best free AutoCAD alternatives, this software is popular among machine parts designers. But it is less popular among video game and animation designers as it focuses on the core of the objects. OpenSCAD is a cross-platform program that runs well on Windows, Linux, and Mac.