10 Open-Source and Free CAD Software You Can Download Right Now

Lauren Fram
Lauren Fram  |  May 18, 2018

Many CAD software products exist today for anyone interested in 2D or 3D designing.

From browser tools to open-source programs, the market is full of free options available for hobbyists or small companies just starting out.

Whether you simply want to create 3D-printed toys for fun or design complicated industrial products for manufacture, there are free CAD options available to you.

If you have worked with CAD, or even dabbled with CAD drafting, you probably know how powerful and important these tools are across a variety of industries. Computer aided design and drafting software is used not only in architecture and engineering, but also in the creation of video games and in the classroom.

Due to the high demand of CAD, and the increased need for companies to invest in a CAD designer, computer aided drafting all together can cost an awful lot of money.

Fortunately, we have compiled a list of 10 free and open source CAD software! Now, you can enjoy all the fun offered by a computer aided design without the heavy price tag.


Engineering Success

1. FreeCAD

FreeCAD-Free-CADFreeCAD is a parametric 3D modeling program that allows for plugins to refine the user’s experience. It can import and export files in multiple formats and includes a drawing sheets module that creates 2D schematics of the 3D models you create. There’s even an architecture module that functions very similarly to a BIM program.

Pricing: Totally open open source and free CAD program. Just visit the website for a free CAD software download.

Features: Geometry kernel, parametric model, modular architecture, import/export, sketcher, robot simulation module, drawing sheets modules, rendering.

Industry Features: This free CAD tool can be used by anyone, including educators and programmers. For teachers, FreeCAD offers a completely free option to educate students without worrying about their school’s budget. For programers, the majority of FreeCAD’s functionality is accessible to Python, the programming language. It allows you to automatize it with scripts, build custom modules and embed FreeCAD into your own application.

2. Fusion 360

Fusion-360-Free-CADFusion 360 is a CAD tool that is available for free to startups and hobbyists. Along with 3D modeling tools, it offers a variety of assembly modeling, motion studies and simulation tools. It also has mobile functionality and robust collaboration tools.

Pricing: Free for hobbyists, students, and startups
Standard version: $40/month or $25/month for an annual subscription
Ultimate version: $190/month or $125/month for an annual subscription

Features: 3D/solid modeling tools, rendering tools, drawing tools

3. Onshape

Onshape-Free-CADOnshape is a 3D CAD tool that is free for non-commercial users. It has a variety of import and export options, as well as version control and an app store offering multiple add-ons and integrations. Unlike most CAD tools, Onshape does not use files, but stores all data in a database to be accessed by all other users in your group.

Pricing: Free for students and hobbyists
Professional version: $125/month per user, billed annually

Features: 3D/solid modeling tools, rendering tools, drawing tools

4. nanoCAD

nanoCAD-Free-CADnanoCAD is a free, industry-standard CAD tool that has a variety of APIs and a powerful table editor. It contains many tools for both 2D and 3D modeling, with multiple methods of creating geometric shapes available. Many of the features are also customizable.

 

Pricing: Free (standard version)
Plus version: Starting at $180
Pro version: Starting at $290

Features: Industry-standard user interface, .dwg support, comprehensive command set, table editor, automation, API support, extended plotting

5. OpenSCAD

OpenSCAD-Free-CADOpenSCAD is an open-source CAD program specifically for solid 3D models. It is not an interactive sculptor, but an interpreter of script files which then creates 3D models. OpenSCAD is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux and can be used for either 2D outline extrusion or constructive solid geometry.

Pricing: Free
Features: 2D outline extrusion, constructive solid geometry, import/export


Power to the Printer

6. Tinkercad

Tinkercad-Free-CADTinkercad is a free, browser-based CAD program aimed at children and beginners. The program is based around a building block system, but can also import vector shapes and convert them to 3D. It also offers 3D printing services, integration with all 3D printers, and exports to laser cutters.

 

Pricing: Free
Features: Shapes, grouping, import 2D/3D, click-to-3D print support, laser cutting support, cloud storage

7. 3D Slash

3D-Slash-Free-CAD3D Slash is a free browser-based 3D modeling tool that uses a building block method similar to “Minecraft.” The program is ideal for kids and beginners. There is also a desktop version available, and it is easily used on tablets and other mobile devices. Designs can either be shared on social media or sent to a 3D printer.

3D-Slash-Free-CAD-Tools

Examples of projects created with 3D Slash

 

Pricing: Free (standard version)
Premium: $2/month
Schools: $8/month
Professional: Starting at $20/month

Features: Basic modeling, painting, import/export, shapes, file sync, social share, 3D printing support


2D 2 B Forgotten

8. LibreCAD

LibreCAD-Free-CADLibreCAD is an open-source 2D CAD program available for Windows, Apple and Linux. It has an extensive wiki available for users who need help with its features. The program is fully customizable and hackable with extensive support from the user community and creators.

 

Pricing: Free

Features: Drawing tools, dimensioning tools, layering, import/export

9. DraftSight

DraftSight-Free-CADDraftSight is a 2D CAD program that contains a variety of drafting, drawing and editing tools. Its large online community is available to be leveraged by new users or those with specific questions about the product.

Pricing: Free (standard version)
Professional version: $99/year
Features: 3D/solid modeling tools, rendering tools, drawing tools

10. QCAD

QCAD-Free-CADQCAD is an open-source CAD program for 2D drafting. It has a variety of features for drafting and document creation. Its primary feature is to create technical drawings of buildings, interiors, mechanical parts, and schematics. There are many options for printing to scale and printing on multiple pages, as well as over 60 construction and modification tools.

QCAD-Free-CAD-Tools

Examples of how to use QCAD

 

Pricing: Free (standard version)
Professional version: $40.21

Features: Layers, blocks, construction tools, modification tools, object snaps, measuring tools, part library, ECMAScript scripting interface, import/export


Next steps for choosing a free 3D CAD software

Free software is no-risk, since there’s no investment, but it can be high reward. Regardless of what you hope to achieve with your CAD tools, there’s an option available for you. There are even many free 3D modeling software tools available as well.

With the open-source options, you can even dive into the community and help improve the program to better fit your personal needs.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 18
Lauren Fram
Author

Lauren Fram

Having lived on both the East and West Coasts, Lauren has settled in the happy medium of the Midwest. After nearly 13 years in Chicago, she has fully co-opted the Midwestern habit of saying "oop" when nearly bumping into things. In her free time she enjoys games of all sorts, and is particularly fond of board games and tabletop RPGs.