Best Free CAD Computer Aided Design Program

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Introduction

If you've already used drafting software at work, then you've likely heard of industry giant, AutoCAD, which has enjoyed a near monopoly. Its drawing exchange file format, .DXF, gets revised continually and competing software has to keep step. This is one of the reasons why you'll often see older versions of expensive CAD software offered for free on the Internet, usually feature-limited.

It would astound you the number of extravagant packages that are essentially AutoCAD clones and can be had for download and free use. Be forewarned that their system requirements tend to be very hefty. Ideally, your PC should have two or more gigabytes of memory, a monitor capable of 1280 x 960 resolution, fast dual processors, a state-of-the-art graphics card and a motherboard that is extra well-cooled.

But Gizmo won't be pursuing the giant AutoCAD clones in depth here, because our readers aren't so much concerned with getting impeccably-perfect blueprints down to some factory to produce high-valued widgets. Those who are should, in all probability, shop elsewhere for software. And those who are planning any major or risky undertakings, such as tearing out an exterior wall of their home to erect a second-story balcony… they also should seek out the best guidance money can buy to ensure the safety of their constructions. None of the software that Gizmo's has cited below claims to analyze structural integrity.

 

Rated Products

SketchUp Make  

A modestly trimmed-down version of Sketchup Pro


Our Rating: 
5
License: Free (Limited features)
Creates surfaces from lines and extrudes 3D solids from surfaces, offers a huge library of pre-designed scenes and objects.
No discernible downside.
Read full review...

Sweet Home 3D  

A software package to tickle every bone in your body


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free (Open source)
Offers a facile intuitive interface, access to a growing library of furnishings and objects, download can be bypassed, just use it online.
No discernible downside
Read full review...

Blender  

A complete software package for 3D modelling


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free (Open source)
Can do it all, import/export more than 20 file formats, including DXF/DWG.
Not a drafting package per se, no classic dimensioning function.
Read full review...

progeCAD Smart!  

A recommendation for budding architects and engineers


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free (Private/Educational use)
Really nice AutoCAD clone, not horribly feature-limited, libraries of over 11,000 blocks and symbols, minimum system requirements not unduly burdensome.
No reflection of DXF file format revisions after 2009.
Read full review...

Sculptris  

A great utility for working with OBJ files and more


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free
Works with .OBJ files, creating shapes and then applying textures, incorporates a straightforward understandable GUI.
Not a general-purpose drafting program
Read full review...

To Be Reviewed:

DraftSight Basic: free, professional-grade CAD product to create, edit and view DWG files for windows, Mac and Linux.

 

Related Products and Links

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Comments

Sketchup Make is now distributed by Trimble and no longer works with Windows XP or Vista. The OS specifications need to be updated to reflect that.

Thank you bitman, the product details have now been updated. MC - Site Manager.

How about FreeCAD? http://www.freecadweb.org/

Hi. I would like to learn to use cadd or autocadd or sketchup but I don't know which one should I will take. I been browsing the sketch up and it really fascinates me. And Is it safe to download those software in macbook air (yosemite)? I just wondering if I can learn it thru this website since I preferred to study just at home. Please if you can give me an advise.

Thank you .

Cheers,

Maria Luisa Mertyn

As a cad beginner, witch above program is best for for wood working, like w-carving and 2D work?
Thanks

Hi.....
Complete novice with CAD. Have a SIMPLE design that I want to create.....for purpose of taking to a 3-D printer for a prototype.

I have an I MAC. So need something NOT overly complicate that I can maneuver.

Suggestions welcome

Thanks

Debbie

I currently have 30 inventions that I need to put to cad drawing. I have no experience with cad I need advice as to what programs to use. also have limited funds.
thank you

i'm looking for a cad program (free) to aid me in records keeping of my past work sights mostly parking lots, public roads and highways. Any suggestions?

Hi, is there any free software for automobile designing (four wheeler) ?? i mean even for personal use is ok, so that one can experiment with an idea roaming in mind?? thanks in advance. :)

The Google SketchUp download installer has a Trojan. Beware. Norton caught it and deleted the file.