Nowadays, most programmes or functions requiring a PC can now be accessed via mobiles, and Computer-Aided Design software is no different. Leading companies in this field have made it their priority to create apps that allow you to view, edit and even create CAD files on your mobile. This availability makes it accessible, and useful for collaboratory works.
The five apps below include the most basic of CAD apps, allowing users to view files and make small changes, and the more complex apps which allow for a wider range of capabilities.
Here are 5 apps that will let you view CAD files on mobile:
- ZWCAD Mobile
- DWG Fastview
- Onshape 3D CAD
- eDrawings Pro
Be sure to keep reading below to see full details on these apps.
1. ZWCAD Mobile
Free with in-app purchases
ZWCAD Mobile Main Features
- A clean user-friendly interface for non-technical users.
- Basic drawing tools for quick edits and annotations.
- Supports 2D drawings only.
- View and edit DWG, DWF, DXF and PDF files.
- Export to JPEG, PDF and DWF files.
ZWSoft’s ZWCAD Mobile is a smartphone version of their namesake software for desktop computers. This app comes from a large, publicly traded company which, you can assume has, signficant development resources behind it.
Indeed ZWCAD Mobile seems a well-designed and feature-rich smartphone application. The reviews for the app or mixed, with most negative reviews being in regards to their freemium pricing.
2. DWG Fastview
Free with in app purchases
DWG Fastview Main Features
- View DXF and DWG files.
- Supports 2D drawings only.
- Basic Drawing and editing tools.
- Export annotated files to PDF, BMP, JPG and PNG.
- Import drawings via email, Dropbox, Google Drive and other services.
DWG Fastview opens 2D/3D DWG files, alongside other CAD formats enabling the ease of importing or sharing via email, Dropbox or WebDAV. No registrations or logins are necessary.
Its features include single and multi-touch interface allowing users to pan, zoom and rotate. Users can make annotations and edits using the basic drawing tools provided. It allows for multiple layers, layouts and perspectives.
The app enables users to open CAD files in either ‘view mode’, or ‘edit mode’ where they can then make use of the drawing capabilities.
Previously available for Android and iOS. (Now currently removed from app stores.)
A360 Main Features
- Supports a huge number of file formats including DXF, DWG and other popular formats.
- Supports 2D and 3D files.
- Viewing of complex 3D models supported.
- Annotate designs with basic tools.
- Editing of the actual CAD drawing or model is not supported.
- Communicate with colleagues and clients within the app.
- Upload files into the app via iCloud, Google Drive and more.
Autodesk previously offered ‘AutoCAD 360’, a functionally limited mobile version. Now Autodesk has separated these products to a viewer and an editor.
The viewer, A360 is a versatile CAD file viewer, supporting 2D drafts and 3D models. With a rating of 4.5 stars from over 1,000 reviews, it seems that A360 is a very good option as an all-round CAD file viewer on your iPhone or Android devices.
The list of supported filetypes is impressive, including DWG, DWF and more complex 3D model filetypes such as .SLDPRT and CATPART files. Interestingly there is a noticeably lack of DXF support in the listed file types. If A360 does not support DXF files it would be extremely surprising given that DXF is the most cross-compatible and common 2D CAD file type.
4. Onshape 3D CAD
Onshape 3D CAD Main Features
- Designed specifically for use with Onshape models.
- Onshape account required (free).
- Edit and annotate in complex models within the app.
- All changes are backed-up to the cloud Onshape platform.
- Supports 3D models. More versatile apps available if you only wish to view 2D CAD drawings.
Regular readers may be familiar with Onshape. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Onshape is the first fully cloud-based 3D CAD application. Designs are stored on the Cloud, which allows for full collaboration in teams. Users can look at their designs via phone, tablet or web browser.
The Onshape 3D CAD app allows you to create new sketches and modify imported files. The app can use real-time constraints so the user can test mechanism layouts. Its ‘Unique Part Studios’ allows users to build and modify 3D geometry from sketches or from other CAD systems.
Once users have completed their designs, they can create ‘read-only’ versions to prevent any further edits. Or they can use ‘follow mode’ to look at the edits other people are making in real time.
5. eDrawings Pro
Premium – $9.99
eDrawings Pro Features
- Supports a large number of file formats, including DXF and DWG, although mostly focusses on Solidworks-specific formats.
- Supports 2D and 3D files.
- Interface is dated and potentially not as intuitive as others.
- Augmented Reality feature to view 3D files in real-world.
- Simple annotation tools included.
- No ability to edit or draw in the source CAD file.
It allows for multi-touch gestures which allow users to pan, zoom and rotate. Augmented Reality (AR) is also included in this package, allowing users to visualize their 3D models in real context, in a 1:1 scale. Users can also view cross-sections in XY, YZ and XZ directions.
The app includes markups through freehand notations and text notes. These can be shared with others for further comments.
As of today, the honorific title of ‘the best app to view CAD files on your mobile device‘ must be given to A360 by Autodesk. The app supports the largest range of 2D and 3D CAD files including all the most common formats that you would likely use in your daily work. Indeed the app is currently the best option for both Android and iOS devices and given that A360 is totally free (with no in-app purchases) you can test the suitability of the app for your purposes with zero risk.
Note: the A360 app is not intended for editing CAD files on your smartphone. If editing on a mobile device is your intention, then there are better options such as ZWCAD Mobile and DWG Fastview, both of which are recommended above.