14 Top Free CAD Packages to Download

Updated Feb 10, 2023
14 Top Free CAD Packages to Download

Anyone who has worked with CAD will know just how integral the software is to various industries—ranging from architecture, to engineering and even gaming. CAD gives us the ability to create designs for a range of purposes, from electrical drawings to house plans. This high demand, however, has meant that professional CAD software has become very expensive—particularly for those who just enjoy CAD as a hobby, and therefore don’t want to commit to an expensive package (for instance, this is how much AutoCAD costs).

With that in mind, Scan2CAD has created a list of the top 14 CAD freeware packages, so you can enjoy CAD without having to spend a single penny. We’ve included operating systems, supported file types and even a list of extra packages that didn’t quite make the list. Read on… 

We’ve separated this list into two sections:

Free 2D Drafting Software

We begin our list with some of the most popular and free options for 2D drafting. If you’re new to CAD, you probably want to start here. 

1. DraftSight

Screenshot of DraftSight

Image Source: razorleaf.com

Draftsight used to be a proprietary freeware 2D CAD software until December 31, 2019, when its developer, Dassault Systèmes, put an end to all free versions of the software. Still, Draftsight is available for free for a 30-day trial period. Upon the elapse of the free trial, you will have to choose among three main pricing plans:

  • DraftSight Professional at $249/year
  • DraftSight Premium at $599/year
  • DraftSight Enterprise (pricing available on inquiry)

Other than the change that effectively ended the software’s freeware status, DraftSight is still a 2D CAD design solution. However, the DraftSight Premium package unlocks full 3D capabilities and parametric constraints.

Generally, DraftSight is a professional 2D design and drafting program that lets you create, edit, view, and markup any kind of 2D drawing (or 3D file). It’s a rather simple and minimal program, so it’s easy to make the transition from another type of CAD application to DraftSight. The only requirement to use the program is to activate it via an email address. This CAD program does have an AutoCAD feel to it—in fact, it even uses AutoCAD’s native file format DWG.

It comes with a range of drafting tools that make it the best-in-class 2D CAD program. It has a number of vector entities available, including lines and polylines, dimensions, layering capabilities, and text. Additionally, it enhances collaboration by providing access to Dassault Systèmes’ 3DExperience platform.

Video: What is Draftsight?

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Ubuntu, Fedora
Interested? Download now!


Screenshot of QCAD

Image Source: Wikimedia

Developed by RibbonSoft, QCAD is a free, open-source application for CAD in 2D. It can be used to create technical drawings such as buildings and their interiors, mechanical parts, diagrams, or schematics. The software was designed with modularity, extensibility, and portability in mind, and it comes with an intuitive user interface. In addition, QCAD is simple to use, so you don’t necessarily need any CAD experience to start with QCAD immediately—which is a great advantage.

It also comes with a variety of useful features. QCAD’s features include:

  • Layers
  • Bocks
  • 35 CAD fonts and support for TrueType fonts
  • A library with over 4800 CAD parts
  • Support for DWG and DXF (input and output), DGN, DWF, CXF font format, raster image formats (TIFF, BMP, PNG, JPEG, ICO, PPM, XBM, XPM), SVG, and PDF
  • Ability to create and modify points, arcs, circles, raster images, fills, dimensions, text, polylines, and more
  • Measuring tools
  • Support for computer-aided manufacturing: nesting, G-code export, GERBER import,
  • Object snaps
  • Printing to scale and printing on multiple pages
  • Command-line tools and more

In addition to the freeware offering, QCAD users can opt for the paid version named QCAD Professional. This premium version is available for a one-time fee of $39.00 (as of May 2022). It is worth pointing out that installing QCAD for the first time opts you into the free trial for the Pro version. To use the free version, you first have to delete several program files.

Video: An Introduction to QCAD

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux
Interested? Download now

3. LibreCAD

Screenshot of LibreCAD

Image Source: Wikimedia

LibreCAD is a free open-source 2D CAD modeling platform. The software began as a project intended to add CAM capabilities to QCAD. During the early months of the project’s existence, the software was known as CADuntu before it was eventually renamed LibreCAD. It comes with a GPLv2 public license, so you can use it, customize it, hack it, and copy it with free user and developer support. It’s a community-driven project, so it’s constantly being improved with new ideas.

LibreCAD comes with high-quality features like snap-to-grid capabilities, which means that you can create straight lines and align objects as you go. It also comes with layers, text, and measurements. Additionally, it is capable of reading DXF and DWG files. Users can then export the 2D drawings using file formats such as PDF, SVG, and DXF. It supports various drawing tools, including blocks, hatches, dimensions, text, polylines, splines, lines, ellipses, and circles. LibreCAD boasts a highly customizable user interface, elaborate snapping system, and custom menus and toolbars.

All these capabilities are packaged in a light downloadable file that will take up less than 30 megabytes. So, you don’t need to have a strong internet connection to start using the software.

Video: LibreCAD for Beginners

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux
File Formats: DXF, DWG, JPG, PDF, PNG, SVG
Interested? Download now!

4. Draft IT Systems

Screenshot of DraftIt

Image Source: Softpedia

Draft IT is a 2D system developed by CADLogic. It is primarily most useful for people who are just starting out with CAD. It has no 3D and/or modeling capabilities, so you shouldn’t be expecting anything too complex. It’s essentially a system that is useful for creating plans and diagrams. It also enables users to save and print the resultant drawings. The free version also enables you to use drawing tools such as arcs, lines, rectangles, offset, polar and linear arrays.

That being said, some of its features are disabled in the free version, e.g., dimensioning, layering, and additional drawing tools such as polylines, curve fit, ellipse, hatch, and polygons. The free version also limits supported file formats; for instance, you cannot import AutoCAD DWG and DXF files  

To be able to do more, you would have to upgrade to the Plus or Pro version. So, if you’re looking to do serious, detailed work, you might want to consider other software.

Video: Draft IT - An introduction

Operating System: Windows
File Formats: DWG, DXF
Interested? Download now!

Free 3D Modeling Software

The world of free CAD software is no-longer limited to 2D drafting applications. As we’ll discover below, there is a wealth of exciting 3D Modelling options available and many of these new solutions are focussing on making a previously complex solution much simpler and easier to use.

5. SketchUp Make and SketchUp Web App

Screenshot of SketchUp Make

Image Source: SketchUp Community

SketchUp Make is the free open-source 3D modeling version of the popular SketchUp software. However, Trimble, the developers of SketchUp, discontinued the free offering, with the last version of the software being SketchUp Make 2017. As at the time of updating this article, in 2022, the company had also stopped offering the ability to officially download SketchUp Make 2017, although it supported it as of early 2021. The move, the official website explains, was motivated by the fact that the last free version is outdated. This made it vulnerable to security issues that may arise from the outdated open-source libraries.

In this regard, if you want to enjoy the perks of the freeware, you have to download it from third-party websites, which may or may not be safe. But, as we’ll detail shortly, an alternative exists. Firstly though, what is SketchUp Make 2017?  

SketchUp Make 2017 covers a range of applications such as architecture, interior design, civil engineering, and even video game design. It comes with an open-source library of models and a 3D warehouse which is the world’s biggest library of free 3D models. The software is incredibly easy to use, and the SketchUp website provides extra help with tutorials and videos. You can even customize your SketchUp with extensions or by upgrading to SketchUp Pro. If you’re interested in creating more advanced projects, you will have to upgrade to the Pro version, which gives you access to features like simulated film cameras and solid modeling tools.

If you are not ready to jeopardize your computer’s security by downloading the outdated SketchUp Make 2017, you can opt for another free offering from Trimble. The developer offers SketchUp for Web at absolutely no cost. However, you first have to create an account/sign-in in order to use it. After that, you can operate SketchUp Web App using any operating system, computer, smartphone, or browser. It offers numerous drawing and editing tools such as line, arc, move, paint, rotate (orbit), erase, measure, etc.

SketchUp Web App

SketchUp Web App (source)

Video: Sketchup Free - An overview

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Browser-based (Web)
File Formats: 3DS, OBJ, DAE, DWG, DXF, FBX, KMZ, WRL, XSI
Interested? Download now!

6. OnShape

Screenshot of OnShape Software - F1 Car Model

Image Source: OnShape

OnShape is a force to reckon with when it comes to making 3D modeling more accessible to the masses.  If you’re not new to CAD, you’ve probably heard of the leading 3D modeling CAD software, SolidWorks, OnShape was started by SolidWorks CEOs Jon Hirschtick and John McEleney, plus their founding team, and they continue to carry the torch of SolidWorks’ innovation and quality. 

OnShape is unique to many other options in that it runs in your web browser. But don’t be fooled into thinking a browser-based solution is limited. The software boasts a list of enterprise-level manufacturing companies as users, so if their features are enough for these companies, it will likely be enough for most entry-level users.

Although OnShape offers a premium solution, they also offer a free plan with limited features. The free plan, Onshape for Education, is available to students and educators. To use it, you have to create an Onshape Education account. This account offers professional 3D CAD features accessible using any device, with the data generated throughout its usage being saved in the cloud. The supported features include mobile editing, part, and assembly modeling, surfacing and sheet metal, real-time collaboration, markups, bill of materials, exploded views, infinite restore and undo, and collaboration through the real-time chat feature, just to mention a few.

Video: OnShape Tutorial

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux (Runs in most web browsers excluding IE and Edge)
File Formats: STP, IGS, 3DM, STL, OBJ & more.
Interested? Visit OnShape

7. FreeCAD

Screenshot of FreeCAD

Image Source: DIWO

FreeCAD is a 100% open-sourced 3D parametric modeler. It’s predominantly aimed at mechanical engineering and product design users because its features are adapted to mechanical engineering. Some of these features include modern finite element analysis (FEA) tools, CNC/CAM workbenches, robot simulation, and experimental computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Still, it can be used by professionals in the architecture field. To back this up, FreeCAD offers dedicated building information management (BIM).

The software enables users to design real-life objects regardless of their perceived size. What makes the software pretty handy is the fact that you can easily edit your drawing by entering your model history and modifying some of its components. This makes it similar to the latest versions of AutoCAD, which support version history.

As a 3D modeler, FreeCAD can be used by anyone interested in creating 3D models – in fact, you don’t even need to have had any CAD experience to use the program comfortably. As with other 3D modelers, FreeCAD does come with 2D components – it allows you to sketch 2D shapes that you can then use as a base to create 3D objects. In this regard, direct 2D drawing is not its focus. Instead, it has a variety of features ranging from 3D solids and support for meshes to a robot simulation module that allows you to study robot movements. If you’re comfortable with SolidWorks, you’ll find FreeCAD easy to use. 

Furthermore, being an open-source platform, FreeCAD allows you to contribute by helping fix bugs, update the documentation, or implement upgrades to the software.

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Ubuntu
Interested? Download now!

8. Sweet Home 3D

Screenshot of Sweet Home 3D

Image Source: Wikimedia

Sweet Home 3D is a free interior design application distributed under GNU General Public License. It gives users the chance to draw floor plans, arrange furniture, and look at the final results in 3D by following a simple three-step process. 

First, in order to draw the floor plans, Sweet Home 3D requires you to import the vector version of a pre-existing drawing. This import acts as a template that you can then use to draw walls, place windows and doors, and add room floors. Any changes made to the 2D plan are simultaneously reflected in a 3D view, which is displayed within the software’s workspace.

Next, decorate and furnish the house. With Sweet Home 3D, you can add color and texture to the floors and walls as well as add furniture, import objects that are drawn using other 3D software – the software supports formats such as 3DS, DAE, OBJ, and KMZ – and customize the color and size of the imported objects.

The software lets you view the 3D model by taking a virtual tour or viewing the 2D design aerially. To make the 3D virtual tour even more realistic, you can set the time and orientation of the house relative to the sun’s position. This allows Sweet Home 3D to include shadows within the virtual tour. Finally, you can render the 2D drawing and 3D model as a photo or video before exporting it as an OBJ, SVG, PDF, or PNG file.

Sweet Home 3D is available for download as desktop software. You can also use it online with any WebGL browser.

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux, Browser-based (Web)
File Types: JPEG, OBJ, PDF, PNG, SVG
Interested? Download now! 

9. TinkerCAD

Screenshot of TinkerCAD

Image Source: 3D Drucken

TinkerCAD is a 3D design and 3D printing web application offered by software giant Autodesk. It bills itself as a “free online collection of software tools that help people all over the world think, create, and make.” It allows users to place a pre-existing or imported shape on a work plane. Placing a shape as a solid or hole enables you to respectively add or remove material to and from the shape you had originally added. With TinkerCAD, you can also adjust shapes by rotating or moving them, as well as combining shapes to create intricate 3D models.

In addition to creating the models, TinkerCAD supports all 3D printers. It also enables users to order 3D prints online from the platform’s 3D printing partners. Additionally, the software enables you to export a section of your model as an SVG file that you can then feed into a laser cutter.

Generally, TinkerCAD is used to create everything from toys and prototypes to home decor and even jewelry. It’s a web-based application, so no downloads are necessary. It’s predominantly used for simple projectsit comes with three basic tools to create basic shapes. Its biggest advantage is that it can create 3D models for immediate 3D printingwith its CSG (Constructive Solid Geometry) feature, you can get a 3D model in 10 minutes! Users can design models from scratch or use ready-made models. The application is limited however, as it cannot be used for complex projects.

Operating System: Browser-based (Web)
File Formats: OBJ, STL
Interested? Check it out here

10. 3D Crafter

Screenshot of 3DCrafter

Image Source: decapod99

3D Crafter is an intuitive, real-time 3D modeling and animation freeware program. It incorporates a drag-and-drop approach to 3D modeling, meaning you can drag an object created using another software to 3D Crafter’s interface. It can create complex models from simple 3D primitives or by using its shape-building tools. In addition, it provides modeling tools that allow users to paint, sculpt, and deform 3D shapes. But that’s not all.

The program can also be used to create animated scenes by simply placing shapes at various timestamps. The scenes can then be viewed in real-time and recorded to a video (AVI) file. It is designed to ensure that the animation you create runs smoothly. Generally, the free version of 3D Crafter offers features such as key-frame manipulation, standard skeletal animation bones, pipe engineer, scene details, and the ability to duplicate, normalize groups, shift the center on selection, reset animation position, and crease all shapes. Furthermore, the software supports multiple import and export formats.

Developed by Amabilis Software, the program also packs additional punches. For instance, you can use the tool roll-up groups feature to customize the program’s interface in such a way that only the tools and items you utilize most regularly are visible. This feature also allows you to access the less frequently used features by just clicking a single button. Whileit has many capabilities, you might need to upgrade to 3DCrafter Pro for more advanced features. The paid version is available for a one-time fee of $39.95, which is a fraction of the cost of animation software such as Autodesk Maya.

Operating System: Windows
Interested? Download now!

11. Sculptris (Now ZCoreBrushMini)

Screenshot of Sculptris

Image Source: Efalinefalin

Formerly Sculptris, ZBrushCoreMini is a 3D modeling freeware program created by industry expert Pixologic. It’s not a general-purpose drafting program; instead, it was designed for 3D sculpting. It was created with the intention to be accessible for every type of artist—from beginner to expert. The program comes with a professional user interface, alongside two main navigation methods: right-click navigation and free moving navigation.

Not only that, but it comes with a number of sculpting tools such as symmetry mode and dynamic tessellation and rendering features, including real-time preview ambient occlusion and turntable movie rendering. There’s also a variety of sculpting brushes that draw, grab, smooth, and flatten. Needless to say, there’s a lot to take advantage of! To use the software, start with a stone block or fear and then use an assortment of 12 digital sculping brushes to remove or include material, creating the sculpture you originally had in mind.

Once you are done with the creation process, you can share your work through the iMage3D GIF and PNG formats, which, when opened using the ZBrushCoreMini, appears in 3D. On any other website, such as a social media platform, however, the model will appear as a regular flat image. You can also use the software to export your model to a 3D printer.

Pixologic offers ZBrushCore, a paid, subscription-based version that boasts more features. For instance, it supports 40 brushes and mesh editing.

Operating System: Windows, Mac
File Formats: OBJ
Interested? Download now!

12. OpenSCAD

Screenshot of OpenSCAD

Image Source: Peak 5390

OpenSCAD is a 3D modeling CAD freeware platform released under the second version of the General Public License. Unlike most 3D modeling software, it doesn’t focus on the ‘artistic’ aspects of 3D modeling. Instead, it’s more suitable for creating 3D models of machine parts. It works as a 3D compiler that reads a script file that describes an object, rendering the file as a 3D model. In this regard, it does not feature an interactive graphical user interface (GUI) that is synonymous with conventional 3D modeling software.

The compiler-based approach accords the designer complete control over the modeling process. They can make changes on the fly as well as make designs that are designed by configurable parameters. OpenSCAD offers two primary modeling techniques: CSG and the ability to extrude 3D models from 2D outlines that are imported as DXF files.

However, while the software is very intuitive, it’s still too limited for complex projects—so you might have to go elsewhere if you want more advanced features. But its official website has an elaborate documentation section with written and video tutorials, user manuals, articles/blogs, and links to books on how to use OpenSCAD.

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux, Ubuntu, Fedora
Interested? Download now!

13. Blender

Screenshot of Blender

Image Source: DRT

Blender is a free and open-source 3D modeling program available under the GNU General Public License. It’s more of an artistic 3D modeling program than a general-use drafting program. It comes with a comprehensive set of capabilities ranging from photo-realistic rendering and fast modeling to realistic materials. Blender even allows designers to make use of an extensive animation toolset to turn still characters into animations. This toolset offers capabilities such as motion tracking, compositing, rendering, simulation, animation, rigging, and modeling, i.e., the entire 3D pipeline. In addition, the software also supports game creation and video editing. These capWhile it is a steep learning curve with Blender, it’s worth it.

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux
File Formats: 3DS, BVH, DAE, DFX, FBX, LWO, OBJ, PLY, STL, SVG, VRML/97, x, X3D
Interested? Download now! 

14. LeoCAD

Screenshot of LeoCAD

Image Source: LeoCAD

LeoCAD is a CAD freeware program used for creating virtual LEGO models. While you might think that the software is geared towards children, you would be very wrong. This piece of software allows users to create anything from the simplest to the most complex of projects—the above screenshot is a model of the Tower Bridge with over 4,000 pieces! It comes with an intuitive interface that makes the creation process easy and time-efficient. Plus, it comes with over 10,000 different parts and pieces to create 3D models from – these parts are regularly updated, so there are no limits to what you can create! Obviously, the LEGO angle is very niche, but it’s perfect for those wanting to create something a little bit different.

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux
File Formats: LDR, DAT
Interested? Download now! 

Honorable Mentions

There’s a huge variety of CAD freeware available, so there are many that didn’t make our final list—but that certainly doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check them out! Take a look at our list below for even more free software applications to take advantage of:

As an added bonus, the following 3 picks are only free for students—but they include some of the most well-known programs on the market:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is there a free AutoCAD version?

AutoCAD is the most popular CAD software around. Boasting plenty of features already packed into it, with Autodesk striving to introduce new features and tools every year, the software comes at a premium. But the value it offers users makes the investment worthwhile. That said, depending on your requirements, you can get AutoCAD for free. For example, the Autodesk Education & Student Access program allows educators and students to download and use AutoCAD for free. Alternatively, you can use the software for free during the free trial period. We have answered this question more elaborately in our article.

Is there a free SketchUp version?

Our discussion above explores SketchUp Make, Trimble’s freeware that has since been discontinued because it is outdated and, therefore, poses a security risk. That said, there is a free up-to-date SketchUp version: SketchUp Web App. But as the name suggests, it is not available as desktop software. To download and install a desktop version, you have to choose a paid tier. There are various paid SketchUp products and license options from which to choose. More on this in our roundup of SketchUp’s pricing model.

What is the best 2D drawing/drafting software for beginners?

LibreCAD offers an intuitive interface that is simple, organized, and easy to understand. This, coupled with the fact that it does not require the user to follow unnecessary procedures as is the case with QCAD – which requires users to delete some program files to use the free version – makes it ideal for beginners.

What is the best 3D modeling software for beginners?

SketchUp Web App. If you are starting out, you may not have a powerful computer that enables you to install certain software. You may not even have a computer in the first place. With SketchUp Web App, which is available for free, you can begin your 3D modeling journey on a less powerful computer or mobile phone. The application also has plenty of tools.

What is the best artistic 3D modeling software?

Blender. It offers a selection of powerful tools for free. According to the developer, VFX professionals even claim that the software’s motion tracking capability is probably the best in the market. Moreover, it outperforms other programs in this list by not reserving some features for paying users.

Parting Shot

Some of the set prices for popular CAD software may be off-putting to hobbyists and beginners. Fortunately, there are plenty of free alternatives designed to suit their needs and preferences. The freeware programs fall into a wide range of categories, including sculpting, CAM, 2D drafting, animation, 3D modeling, etc. And based on our discussion, each category has its standout solution. Here is a summary:

  • Best free 2D modeling software: LibreCAD
  • Best free 3D modeling software: SketchUp Web App
  • Best free web-based 3D modeling software: SketchUp
  • Best free artistic 3D modeling software: Blender
  • Best free interior design-focused 3D modeling software: Sweet Home 3D
  • Best free mechanical engineering-focused 3D modeling software: FreeCAD

Don’t forget to try out Scan2CAD’s blog for the latest news—covering everything from CAD Freelancers to Top 3D CAD Models to Try Out to Sites with Free DXF Designs

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