CAD/CAM software can be expensive, with annual subscriptions/maintenance costs (on top of one-time purchase charges) going beyond $1,000 – check out our CAD software pricing series. However, if you only wish to use them to edit DXF/DWG files, the return on invested capital may not be high enough to substantiate paying such a high amount. Enter free DXF/DWG editors.
The internet is awash with a slew of editors that promise to offer unmatched capabilities. However, while some deliver on their promises, others do not, presenting a problem we intend to solve through this article. Herein, we will discuss the 7 best free DXF/DWG editors. And to cover all bases, our review/analysis covers editors, both online and offline editors. Notably, the 7 best free DXF/DWG editors are not ranked in any particular order.
Table of Contents
As the name suggests, DXF/DWG editors are software applications that enable you to view as well as edit DXF/DWG files. This software category offers tools that allow you to edit polylines, arcs, shapes, lines, and more, in addition to allowing you to erase or add true-type text.
Furthermore, some DXF/DWG editors support both 2D and 3D objects. Using such software lets you insert 3D objects or view the drawings from a three-dimensional perspective.
What’s more, through the DXF/DWG editors, you can save the edited file as a DWG or DXF file or, in some cases, export it as an image or PDF. Simply put, these editing software applications are packed with a plethora of tools that simplify the editing process.
Criteria Used to Select the 7 Best Free DXF/DWG Editors
In coming up with our list, we made several considerations, including:
- Ability to edit DXF/DWG files
- Free services
It is not uncommon for companies to report their services as being unavailable due to malicious attacks. So disruptive have these attacks been that in June, the United States unveiled legislation that would address cybercrime, further underlining the seriousness of the matter.
It is worth noting that such attacks usually start benignly, perhaps as a link or downloadable file. In this regard, it is vital to ensure that the free DXF/DWG editors are available via a trusted website to reduce the possibility of cyberattacks. Our analysis, therefore, eliminated free editors that were only available through third-party websites or peer-to-peer websites.
Ability to Edit DXF/DWG Files
Though outrightly marketed as editors, some software applications only allow you to print/publish/plot the drawings stored in the files. They do not enable you to edit the drawings. We, therefore, also eliminated this category of applications.
There are two types of free service offerings. The first group covers applications that are downloadable for free and enable you to use all the available tools for free throughout an unlimited time frame. The second category includes applications that are downloadable for free but only allow you to use all the editing tools and features during a free trial period. The expiry of the trial locks access to these advanced features.
Our list of the 7 best free DXF/DWG editors contains software applications that fall in the first category. This means that the recommended editors are ideal for regular and irregular use cases spread over a prolonged period.
7 Best Free DXF/DWG Editors
With that background in mind, here is the list of 7 best free DXF/DWG editors:
- DWG FastView
- RootPro CAD Free
LibreCAD is a free, lightweight (<30 MB to download), open-source DXF/DWG editor and CAD software available for Windows, Linux, and macOS. Being a complete CAD application, LibreCAD supports viewing, editing, and designing from scratch. In addition, it is packed with plenty of tools and features that include: drawing tools such as lines, arcs, text, rectangles, ellipses, curves, and more.
This CAD application supports three ways of editing existing designs. First, you can opt to use the layer tool that provides access to each specific layer of the DWG or DXF drawing. Secondly, you can double-click a section of the drawing and either move it around or add another object. Thirdly, you can use drawing tools to add new shapes or text as well as delete existing objects.
Upon modifying the drawing as desired, LibreCAD allows you to save it as a DWG/DXF file or even print it directly.
Available for Windows, mobile, and web, DWG FastView is a viewer and DXF/DWG editor that only accepts DWG files. With a simple user interface that is not very dissimilar to Autodesk’s AutoCAD, the DWG FastView offers a high level of familiarity that makes it easy to understand and use. Moreover, being a lightweight application (~67 MB to download), this editor eliminates the need for downloading and installing large CAD software, a process that takes up a lot of time and space.
With DWG FastView’s Edit Mode, you can quickly and easily open, view, and edit DWG files. In addition, it supports simple drawing tools such as polylines, ellipses, and straight lines. (To use these features, DWG FastView requires you to create an account).
It is worth pointing out that DWG FastView also offers a premium version. Through this premium account, users enjoy advanced features such as cloud storage and collaboration, dimension measurements, and annotation tools. However, given that the free version provides the most fundamental editing tools, we hold that the additional tools available through the paid premium version may not offer any added advantage.
Partly released under the GNU General Public License, a series of free software licenses, QCAD is a free, open-source DXF/DWG editor and CAD software application for 2D drafting and design. Available for Linux, Windows, and macOS, QCAD lets you create plans for interiors, mechanical parts, and architectural drawings.
Moreover, QCAD, which accepts both DXF and DWG imports, allows you to edit DXF/DWF files. Through this software, you can create and modify lines, arcs, circles, ellipses, splines, polylines, texts, dimensions, raster images, and more.
Other supported/available features include multiple metric and imperial units, layers, blocks, printing to scale, object snaps, measuring tools, command-line tools, and a library with thousands of parts.
DWGSee is a free viewer and DXF/DWG editor that enables users to view, edit, measure, and print CAD files. A versatile software, DWGSee is available as an online DWG/DXF viewer as well as light desktop software for both Windows and macOS. Notably, the desktop software is a lightweight file – about 36.62 MB to download. As such, it does not take up unnecessary storage or require certain advanced system features in order to launch or open.
Through the desktop version of DWGSee, you can modify objects like lines, blocks, layers, and text. You can also annotate dimensions and notes and draw objects such as polylines, arcs, text, lines, and circles. Furthermore, you can measure dimensions and compare two versions of the same drawing side by side. Finally, DWGSee allows you to save the drawing/design as a DWG or DXF file once you have made the necessary edits.
Notably, DWGSee Pro is also available. It offers additional capabilities such as exporting drawings to raster images or PDFs.
RootPro CAD Free
RootPro CAD is a 2D DXF/DWG editor for Windows that is available for free as well as through paid pro monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual subscription plans. Naturally, the Pro plan offers more features, but the free version avails basic editing and drawing tools.
Some of the features and tools available through RootPro CAD Free include editing commands such as fillet, chamfer, stretch, line adjustment, and trim; layer management; and drawing tools such as snap as well as the ability to draw shapes. Notably, with RootPro CAD Free, you can import DWG/DXF files, meaning that you can use the free software to edit drawings previously-stored using these two formats.
FreeCAD is a free open-source multiplatform and highly customizable DXF/DWG editor available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It is equipped with plenty of tools that allow you to undertake finite element analysis, robot simulation, experimental computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and more. FreeCAD is, therefore, ideal for 3D modeling.
In this regard, it can be used to edit 3D models by sketching geometry-constrained 2D shapes that then act as a base for 3D objects. Conversely, you can also use FreeCAD to convert 3D objects to 2D drawings.
Additionally, through this versatile software, you can import 3D models from external DWG/DXF files.
nanoCAD free is the unpaid version of nanoCAD, a paid professional-grade CAD platform that offers a wide array of 2D and 3D drafting tools. According to the company’s website, nanoCAD free is an earlier version (version 5) of the paid software, currently available as version 21.
In this regard, nanoCAD free is outdated and does not support the benefits and features available in newer versions, such as support for the latest DWG files. It also has several other limitations – it lacks batch plotting, advanced layer controls, dynamic cursor input, parametric 2D design, tool palettes, PDF underlays, cloud support, annual updates, and more.
However, this does not mean that it does not support editing works. In fact, it enables users to create and modify 2D drawings; manage layers, blocks, and line types; place raster images in drawings; reorient drawings based on custom coordinate systems, and edit associative dimensions.
With this list of the 7 best free DXF/DWG editors, we hope that we have helped you narrow down the right DXF/DWG editing software for your personal or business applications. In addition, our comprehensive list covers free DXF/DWG editors that support either 2D drafting or 3D modeling. Thus, depending on your goals for a particular project, this article detailing the 7 best free DXF/DWG editors has got you covered.