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14 Top Free CAD Packages to Download

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.

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…

1. Sculptris

Screenshot of Sculptris

Image Source: Efalinefalin


Sculptris
 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. 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!

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

2. SketchUp Make

Screenshot of SketchUp Make

Image Source: SketchUp Community


SketchUp Make
 is a 3D modeling program that 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.

Operating System: Windows, Mac
File Formats: 3DS, OBJ, DAE, DWG, DXF, FBX, KMZ, WRL, XSI
Interested? Download now!

3. DraftSight

Screenshot of DraftSight

Image Source: Razorleaf


DraftSight
 is a professional 2D design and drafting program that lets you create, edit and view any kind of 2D drawing. 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 freeware 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 to help you create professional plans, with a number of vector entities available including lines and polylines, dimensions, layering capabilities and text.

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Ubuntu, Fedora
File Formats: DWG, DXF, JPEG, PDF, PNG, SLD, STL, SVG, TIF
Interested? Download now!

4. 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. However, it 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, it does come with 2D components, but direct 2D drawing is not its focus. It has a variety of features ranging from 3D solids, to 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. 

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Ubuntu
File Formats: DAE, DXF, Fcstd, IFC, IGES, OBJ, OFF, NASTRAN, STEP, STL, SVG, VRML
Interested? Download now!

5. OpenSCAD

Screenshot of OpenSCAD

Image Source: Peak 5390


OpenSCAD
 is a 3D modeling CAD freeware platform. 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, and working as a 3D compiler that describes the object and renders a 3D model from a script file. It gives the designer full control over the modeling process to make designs that are designed by configurable parameters. 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.

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux, Ubuntu, Fedora
File Formats: AMF, CSG, DXF, OFF, PNG, SCAD, STL, SVG
Interested? Download now!

6. QCAD

Screenshot of QCAD

Image Source: Wikimedia


QCAD
 is a free, open-source application for CAD in 2D. It can be used to create technical drawings such as buildings, mechanical parts or diagrams. The software was designed with modularity, extensibility and portability in mind, and it comes with an intuitive user interface. 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 including layers, blocks, 35 CAD fonts and a library with over 4800 CAD parts. 

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux
File Formats: BMP, DGN, DWG, DWF, DXF, ICO, JPEG, PDF, PNG, PPM, SVG, TIFF, XBM, XPM
Interested? Download now!

7. LibreCAD

Screenshot of LibreCAD

Image Source: Wikimedia


LibreCAD
is a free open-source 2D CAD modeling platform. 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. The program 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.

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

8. 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. It can create complex models from simple 3D primitives or by using its shape building tools. The program can also be used to create animated scenes, which can be viewed in real time and recorded to a video (AVI) file. While it has many capabilities, you might need to upgrade to 3DCrafter Plus or Pro for more advanced features. 

Operating System: Windows
File Formats: 3DMF, AC, ASC, COB, DXF, GEO, LP, LWO, NFF, OBJ, MA, RAW, RBS, RWX, STL, VRMLL, XGL, ZGL
Interested? Download now!

9. Blender

Screenshot of Blender

Image Source: DRT


Blender
 is a free and open-source 3D modeling program. It’s more of an artistic 3D modeling program than a general-use drafting program. It comes with a wide set of capabilities ranging from photo-realistic rendering, to fast modeling, to realistic materials. Blender even allows designers to make use of an extensive animation toolset to turn still characters into animations. And if that wasn’t enough, the program also comes with simulation capabilities and video editing. While it is a steep learning curve with Blender, it is 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! 

10. Draft IT

Screenshot of DraftIt

Image Source: Softpedia


Draft IT
 is a 2D system, which 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. That being said, some of its features are disabled in the free version, e.g. layering and polylines. 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.

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

11. 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, designed to make the process of creation easy and time-efficient. Plus, it comes with over 6,000 different pieces to create 3D models from—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! 

12. TinkerCAD

Screenshot of TinkerCAD

Image Source: 3D Drucken


TinkerCAD
 is a 3D design and 3D printing application. It’s used to create everything from toys, to prototypes, to home decor and even jewelry. It’s a web-based application, so no downloads are necessary. It’s predominantly used for simple projects—it comes with 3 basic tools to create basic shapes. Its biggest advantage is that it can create 3D models for immediate 3D printing—with 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
File Formats: OBJ, STL
Interested? Check it out here

13. Meshmixer

Screenshot of Meshmixer

Image Source: 3D File Market


Meshmixer
is part of the series Autodesk 123D which is freeware integrated with content and fabrication services. It’s a program adapted for 3D printing that allows users to blend existing meshes to create new models. The software comes with an extensive mesh library where users can create objects of varying degrees of complexity. This software is ideal for beginners and for experts—both will be comfortable with the software’s intuitive interface and its extensive toolbar. Plus, with its Support Structure Generation tool, 3D printing couldn’t be easier! 

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux
File Formats: DAE, MIX, OBJ, STL
Interested? Download now! 

14. Sweet Home 3D

Screenshot of Sweet Home 3D

Image Source: Wikimedia


Sweet Home 3D
 is a free interior design application that gives users the chance to draw floor plans, arrange furniture and look at the final results in 3D. Users can change color schemes, use models from the catalog and even create a movie of the 3D model to be exported to SVG. In addition, any changes made to the 2D plan are simultaneously reflected in a 3D view. These models can then be looked at from an aerial view point, and from a virtual visitor view point.

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux
File Types: JPEG, OBJ, PDF, PNG, SVG
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:

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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14 Responses to 14 Top Free CAD Packages to Download

  1. Ian Kenneth Stewart Sep 28, 2017 at 6:53 AM #

    Hi Bethany,
    Love your introduction to free CAD solutions software.
    Just a beginner looking for free CAD software to copy ART Patterns
    and then convert the jpeg file to Mach3 for GCode engraving via a cnc router.
    Whats the best free CAD Software option??
    thanks,
    Ian S

    • Luke Kennedy
      Luke Kennedy Feb 5, 2018 at 1:40 PM #

      Hi Ian, this raster to vector conversion is exactly what Scan2CAD does. We also support G-Code formats for CNC. You can learn more here

  2. John Schindler Dec 17, 2017 at 10:32 PM #

    I have a little exposure to SolidWorks so FreeCAD was attractive. However, I got an error message while editting preferences to change the units from mm to inches. Set a constraint distance to 23 (inches) and it might be displayed as 1.92 feet, or 7.67 yards.Maybe there is some other place to set the units.

    It froze or became non-responsive three times in 30 minutes. This was the stable, Windows 64 bit version 0.16.6712 on Windows 7.

    I also tried various version 0.17’s, on Linux and Windows. They have the same problems with inches. The Linux version has an Assembly “workbench”, but it is just a placeholder with no functionality. The Windows 0.17 version doesn’t have this.

    At best, it will be a lot of you-tube tutorial watching and without assemblies, I won’t be able to see how things fit together, which to me is the real Aid in CAD.

    • Luke Kennedy
      Luke Kennedy Feb 5, 2018 at 1:42 PM #

      Hi John,

      You mentioned you had an error message when editing in ‘FreeCAD’ you may wish to post the question over on our sister site CADAnswers. Someone will likely be able to help you out there.

  3. Steve Claycomb Feb 20, 2018 at 3:46 AM #

    I want to build a shop/garage and want a free 2D program to sketch it out and use that info to create a materials list.

  4. Maggy Henry Mar 2, 2018 at 8:49 PM #

    Hi Luke, based on your comments and recommendations I want to use Draftsight. But on their website I couldn’t find the type of scales supported. I work on architectural metric. Will I be able to use centimeters? Thank you

    • Luke Kennedy
      Luke Kennedy Mar 3, 2018 at 2:30 PM #

      Hi Maggy,

      Yes, you can change your dimensions to cm in Draftsight.
      I believe you can change it under under Format > Unit System.

  5. John Branch Mar 3, 2018 at 7:06 PM #

    Hello,
    I have been using autosketch for many years and like it. It won’t work on Win 7 & up, tho’. whats the best free substitute I can use on Win10??

    • Luke Kennedy
      Luke Kennedy Mar 3, 2018 at 9:19 PM #

      Hi John, I’d recommend trying out Draftsight. Good luck with your projects!

  6. Andy Smith Mar 14, 2018 at 12:11 AM #

    Hello,
    I have been trying to download Draftsight but I keep getting error messages when trying to install.. Something about needing an elevation? i tried both the 64 and 32 bit for windows. I’m on windows 10. Help?

    • Luke Kennedy
      Luke Kennedy Mar 14, 2018 at 11:39 AM #

      Hey Andy,

      Sounds like you just need higher privliges for the Windows user.

      Two things to try:

      1. Log out of your current Windows user and log in as Adminstrator.
      2. If the above does not fix, right click the installer and choose ‘Run as administrator’ (I’ve found this surprisingly gives higher privileges than just running as Admin.)

      For other technical questions like these you can ask them on our sister site CAD Answers

  7. kamrozzaman Masud Mar 20, 2018 at 11:20 AM #

    Plz send me gtr cad systemp procedure I learm it at any cost, plz replay me as soon as possible

    • Luke Kennedy
      Luke Kennedy Mar 20, 2018 at 11:37 AM #

      Hey, I’m not sure what you’re after but we can’t help with general support questions. I would advise posting your question to CAD Answers.
      Good luck!

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