Top 10 Best Free CAD Software for Beginner and Experts in 2020

CAD Programs are used to create, visualize and simulate new product designs in 3D. Professional cad programs require huge investment in software licensing and workstation. But if you are a student, startup or hobbyist who doesn’t want to invest in 3D CAD software, Free cad software is a good option.

These free cad programs are not best in class, but they solve the purpose. In this article, we will discuss various best free cad software that will help you in the selection of best cad programs for your application.

How to choose Best Free CAD Software?

Various free 3D cad software are available in the market. Selection of best free cad software depends on your application and user experience. Following  points shall be considered before the selection of free cad software for your application.

User Expertise

Various free cad programs have different learning curves. Selection of free CAD software is done depending on whether you are a beginner or advanced cad user. For example, fusion-360 or blender cad programs are for professionals whereas 3D Slash and TinkerCAD can be used by beginners.

Type of Parts to be designed

Some of the free cad programs are Industry specific or have limited features. Therefore selection of the best cad software is done according to the type of part you want to design. For example, blender is used to design A-class surfaces whereas sketchup is used by the construction and architectural industry.

Type of CAD Software

CAD programs come with various types of cad modeling approaches such as parametric or direct cad modeling. Selection of free cad software is done according to cad modeling approach you want to follow in your product designs.

Initial Investment

Professional cad software requires powerful workstations that are very costly. Therefore for a small budget, better to go with a cloud based software.

Best Free CAD Software

Following are the widely used best free cad software available in the market.

Fusion 360 is a professional Cloud Based free 3D CAD, CAM and CAE tool that connects the entire product development process. You can design part and assembly, perform motion & structure simulation and create renders & animations in fusion 360 software. Click this link to know the difference between CAD CAM and CAE.

Note : Fusion 360 software is free for students, startup and hobbyist.

Overview of Fusion 360
Operating SystemWindows, macOS
PriceFree (for Students and startups)
Formatcatpart, dwg, dxf, f3d, igs, obj, pdf, sat, sldprt, STL, stp
Cloud BasedYes
ApplicationsProfessional Use, Free for Startups and students
Other FeaturesCAD, CAM, CAE
Website LinkAutodesk Fusion 360

Sketchup is best free 3D CAD software for beginners who wants to visualize their architecture or construction plan. It is primarily used for :

  • Building and architecture design.
  • Engineering and Construction Industry.
  • Entertainment industry.

SketchUp is best known for its ease of use. Drawing with sketchup is as simple as drawing with a pen and paper. Vast library of sketchup plugins allow users to use the program for various applications.

Note: Sketchup Free is available as a web-based application.

Overview
Operating SystemWindows, macOS
PriceFree (with limited functionality)
Format.skp, stl, png
Browser BasedYes
Applicationsarchitecture, engineering and construction industry
Photo-realistic RenderLimited
Website LinkSketchup Free

3D Slash free cad software is so much easier to learn, even kids can do 3D Modeling using 3D slash. Therefore Hobbyists use this software for initial product designs. Users don’t need to have any technical background to use this free cad software.

  • Very easy to learn.
  • Pro Version is also Available.
  • Output stl format can be used for 3D printing.
  • Available online as well as offline.
Overview of 3D Slash
Operating SystemWindows, macOS, Linux
PriceFree (pro is also available)
Format3dslash, stl, obj
Browser BasedYes
ApplicationsHobbyist, Kids
Photo-realistic RenderNo
Website Link3D Slash

FreeCAD is an open-source parametric Free 3D CAD software that is primarily used by architects and interior designers. Parametric modeling allows users to easily modify the design.

Overview of FreeCAD Software
Operating SystemWindows, macOS
PriceFree (Opensource)
Formatfcstd
Browser Basedno
ApplicationsArchitects, Interior Designers
Photo-realistic RenderYes
Website LinkFreeCAD

Onshape is a cloud based CAD, data management and collaboration software used by professionals for product design. Android and iOS apps are also available for OnShape. 

Onshape Overview of OnShape
Operating SystemBrowser based, Android and ios app
PriceFree (students and non professionals)
Format
Browser BasedYes
ApplicationsProfessionals
Photo-realistic RenderNo
Website Linkonshape

Blender is freely available, open-source, Direct CAD Modeling professional software that can be used to create 3D printed cad models, created motion graphics, animated films etc. It is used by engineers to create industrial designs (For product aesthetics) and cad models for virtual reality and computer games applications.

Blender is a bit difficult to learn but can be one of the best choice for professional cad users.

Blender Overview
Operating SystemWindows, Linux, macOS
PriceFree and Opensource
FormatOBJ, FBX, 3DS, PLY, STL etc
Browser BasedNo
ApplicationsFor Professionals (Animated Videos, Cad models for 3D printing, industrial design, Gmaing and virtual reality applications)
Photo-realistic RenderYes
Website LinkBlender

Draftsight from the Dassault system is a very good free alternative to autocad 2D cad software. It is used by architects, engineers and construction service providers, as well as professional CAD users, designers, educators and hobbyists.

Draftsight
Operating SystemWindows & Mac
PriceFree (now it is available at nominal price range)
Formatdwg, dxf
ApplicationsFor beginners, teachers, kids and hobbyists.
Photo-realistic RenderNo (Free 2D cad software only)
Website LinkDraftsight

Tinkercad from autodesk is a free, easy-to-use cloud based software for 3D design, electronics, and coding. It is a good option for beginners, teachers, kids and hobbyists. You don’t need to worry about downloading and installing tinkercad software. You can access tinkercad for your browser.

Tinkercad is the best choice if you are looking for basic cad modeling for 3D printing without any previous experience.

Tinkercad Overview
Operating SystemBrowser Based
PriceFree to Use
FormatSTL and OBJ
ApplicationsFor beginners, teachers, kids and hobbyists.
Photo-realistic RenderNo
Website LinkTINKERCAD

Leopoly is easy to use free browser based cad software for beginners. For commercial purposes a paid version is available. In this you can create cad models from scratch, browse libraries or import your cad model. Leopoly also comes with some virtual reality and augmented reality features.

Leopoly Overview
Operating SystemBrowser Based
PriceFree For Beigners (But Paid for Business use)
FormatSTL and OBJ
ApplicationsFor beginners, teachers, kids and hobbyists, Paid version for business use.
Photo-realistic RenderNo
Website LinkLeopoly

Librecad is an open source free 2D cad software available for Mac, Windows and linux users. It is easy to use and can be a good alternative to draftsight and autocad.

Librecad Overview
Operating SystemMac, Windows and Linux
PriceOpen-source and Free
FormatRead dwg, Write dxf and export to PDF, PNG, JPG etc.
ApplicationsFor 2D Drafting.
Website LinkLibrecad

To sum up, if you are a startup, Student or Hobbyist and don’t want to invest in costly cad software. Free cad software is a good choice for product design and design reviews. And Cloud based CAD software can be used If you don’t want to invest in costly hardware. If you just want to review cad models, you can use these free available 2D and 3D cad viewers.

We will continue updating this article on free cad software. Feel free to ask your questions on free cad programs in the comment Box.

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