AutoCAD is one of the most used CAD software around the globe. However, it is relatively expensive since it costs $1,575 a year. For interoperability purposes, Autodesk, the company behind AutoCAD and one of the largest names in the field of drafting and 3D CAD design, developed DXF (Drawing Exchange Format) to allow for interoperability between AutoCAD and other CAD programs. And you do not need to purchase AutoCAD to view a DXF file since there are several free DXF viewers available for download online that you can use to view DXF files without using a penny.
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What are DXF files?
DXF (Drawing Exchange Format) file was developed by Autodesk and introduced in December 1982 to allow for interoperability of data files between AutoCAD and other CAD programs. The first AutoCAD version that was compatible with the DXF file format was AutoCAD 1.0.
The DXF was developed to provide an exact representation of the DWG file format, which is the native file format of AutoCAD. AutoCAD versions are lower than Release 10 only accepted ASCII forms of DXF files. However, higher versions support both binary and ASCII DXF forms.
7 best Free DXF Viewers
Below are the 7 best Free DXF Viewer apps that can be downloaded for free from the internet.
LibreCAD is a free DXF viewer that also allows editing, measuring, and printing of files besides viewing. Users can also use the software to view, edit, measure, and print other files like DWG and CXF files.
It was developed as an upgrade to the QCAD Community Edition and it is supported by Windows, Linux, and Mac Operating Systems.
It also allows users to export PDF, SVG, ICO, and BMP files among others.
It has a simple user interface that comprises neatly displayed options and settings. And amazingly, it also allows users to create custom menus and toolbars, thus increasing efficiency and flexibility.
Advantages of LibreCAD
- Free to download.
- Supported by Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.
- Easy to use.
- Allows editing, measuring, and printing of DXF files besides viewing.
- Allows users to export different file formats.
- Highly customizable.
- Lightweight since it is only a few MBS in size.
Disadvantages of LibreCAD
- It was developed as a 2D CAD designing open-source software and thus cannot handle 3D CAD.
Autodesk DWG TrueView
DWG TrueView is a product of Autodesk, which is the same company that develops AutoCAD. It is a free program that gives engineers and designers an alternative for purchasing the costly AutoCAD software in addition to other CAD programs that could probably be of more importance to their day to day activities.
DWG TrueView was not designed exclusively for viewing DXF files. However, it is one of the best free DXF viewers having come from the same company that developed the DXF file format.
Besides DXF, DWG TrueView also opens DWG files, which is what it was mainly developed to view.
Advantages of DWG TrueView
- It is a free application.
- Allows users to read layer information and also edit the layers.
- Allows users to publish DXF and DWG files as PDF, DWF, and DWFx.
- Allow conversion of DWG files from old versions to versions that are compatible with the newer CAD programs.
Disadvantages of DWG TrueView
- It takes a lot of hard drive space. It is bulky for computers.
- It was developed for Windows OS only. There are no versions for Mac and Linux OS.
DWG FastView is CAD design software for opening, viewing, and editing CAD files including DXF files.
It is a product of Gstarsoft Co., Ltd and has versions for Windows operating system (Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP), Android mobile phone operating system, and also for web.
Once users download the free DWG FastView software, they can also register for a DWG FastView account to also use the mobile and web versions to open, share and communicate about project files done using the PC regardless of their geographical location.
Besides DXF, it also supports DWG, DWS, and DWT file formats. Users can also export files in PNG, BMP, and JPG formats.
Advantages of DWG FastView
- It is light to install and easy to use when viewing drawings without the need to download large CAD programs.
- It supports external references.
- It has simple drawing tools such as straight lines, sketch, polylines, revcloud, ellipses, etc. for editing files.
- It can be used for displaying both 2D objects and 3D models.
- It has a web and mobile version.
Disadvantages of DWG FastView
- It only acts as a viewer and therefore does not support any markup
DoubleCAD XT is a full-featured 2.5D CAD software and a free DXF viewer that runs on Windows Operating System.
It is a product of IMSI/Design and was launched in 2009 as an alternative for AutoCAD LT. Although the commercial version, DoubleCAD XT Pro goes for $695, there is a free version that is available on the official webpage for download.
Its user interface is more like that of AutoCAD with dropdown and fly-out menus.
It enables users to view and edit DXF, PLT, and DWG files. It has comprehensive dimensioning, 2D sketching, and annotation tools
Advantages of DoubleCAD XT
- Lightweight for computers.
- Easy to use.
- It offers an option for creating tables whose data is linked to external excel worksheets.
- It offers an option for using different measurement units for different areas of the same object while dimensioning.
Disadvantages of DoubleCAD XT
- It was developed to only operate on Windows OS and thus cannot be used by Mac and Linux OS users.
Bentley View is a free CAD file viewing program designed for viewing, modifying, and printing DXF, DGN, and DWG files. It also supports the drag and drop feature; meaning you can simply drag and drop a file in it to open the file.
While viewing and modifying a DXF file, the user has the liberty of rotating, panning, zooming, etc.
It was designed to run on Windows (Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7) OS.
To download the Bentley View software, however, one will require to first register for an account with the official website.
Advantages of Bentley View
- It is free.
- Can be used for opening both 2D and 3D DXF, DGN, and DWG files.
- Enables users to measure the distance between two points in just one click.
- It is available in a variety of languages.
Disadvantages of Bentley View
- It is not supported on Mac and Linux OS.
- It is a bit heavy for a computer. It uses too much CPU when running.
BabaCAD is a free DXF viewer that is supported by both Mac and Windows operating systems.
Besides viewing DXF files, it is also a DWG viewer. Users can also edit and save files.
The BabaCAD 2019 Enterprise 3D edition, besides viewing, drawing and modifying 2D DXF files, users can also open, modify, and create 3D solid objects like holes, extrude, etc. It also allows users to import and export .STL meshes and .STEP 3D models.
BabaCAD also allows users to add LISP programming extensions for creating and opening LSP files.
Advantages of BabaCAD
- It has a free trial version.
- It is compatible with both Mac and Windows OS.
- Allows 3D modeling.
- It is also a DWG viewer.
- Customizable using user-programmed plugins (C#, .NET, VB, .dll).
- It comes with powerful 2D drafting tools for complex drawings and technical papers.
Disadvantages of BabaCAD
- The BabaCAD Home Edition (2020) does not have 3D modeling capabilities
The de·caff Viewer is a free Java program designed to be used as a Free DXF file viewer and it runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. It reads all types of DXF files (both ASCII and binary). It is also able to read files that may be packed using zip, bzip2, and gzip.
The de.caff viewer reads both 2D and 3D DXF files and displays them as wireframes just like AutoCAD does. It also allows users to open other files specifically DWG and SHX formats.
One can also zoom, rotate, scale, and also search text in the opened file.
Users can also print and save their work in other different formats including PDF, GIF, SVG, PNG, JPG, and Postscript.
Advantages of de.caff viewer
- Supported by Windows, Linux, and Mac OS
- Free to download and use.
- Supports 3D drawings.
- Allows importing and exporting of XML file formats.
- It can also be used as a DWG and SHX file viewer.
- It is lightweight.
Disadvantages of de.caff viewer
- If the files being viewed make heavy use of AutoCAD’s encrypted entities or any other recently added features de.caff viewer may not tell the user much.
Industrial designers’ and engineers’ work involves a lot of CAD files most of which are DXF files given the fact that AutoCAD is one of the most used CAD software. If an engineer or designer is working in a team where the teammates use AutoCAD, he/she will have to find a way of viewing, editing, commenting and sharing the CAD files from his/her colleagues. And to do so, he/she does not require to purchase the costly AutoCAD program.
He/she can simply download one of the above mentioned free DXF viewers for viewing, editing, commenting, and sharing the DXF files from colleagues.