CAD software is an absolute necessity for many professionals, including engineers, architects, graphic designers, animators and pretty much anyone who designs, and needs to convert their designs from ideas in their head to real models/schematics on the computer.
With the growing number of open-source projects, free CAD programs have become more common, and in some cases there is very little difference in the power that they carry when compared to their commercial rivals. This both a blessing and a curse, as sifting through the many programs and their features can be both intimidating and confusing.
Some programs are free to just a select group of users, and others offer a free trial, or limited free version of their software that needs a paid subscription to access some of the more powerful features. Here are five of our top picks for free 2D and 3D CAD software to download in 2021:
3D Builder is a free CAD program that gives the user 3D modelling and printing capabilities, and can be used on laptops, desktops, and other Microsoft products like the Xbox One, Hololens and on mobile phones. Models that are created within the program can be downloaded and even exported to a 3D printer to create a physical model of the design.
It can also be used with a touchscreen interface to edit and tweak the files which gives a unique and immersive experience. Another interesting feature is one that comes with the mobile phone camera, it allows objects in real life to be scanned into the program and converted into a 3D object. How cool!
If you are looking for a different experience than a regular CAD program, 3D Splash can provide that for you. It does not feature tools like extrusions, sweeps or revolutions that are the backbone of regular 3D modelling. It brings a Minecraft-like experience to CAD, and is based on a solid cube that can be broken down into smaller cubes of identical size.
These cuboids are worked with to create the end models for the users, we said it was different! Tools included in the software are: trowels, hammers, drills etc. In our opinion this would be more suited to recreational use than professional work. Enjoy!
Ever wanted to model with code? Well that is exactly the experience that you should expect if you choose to download BlocksCAD. Commands that represent transformations and objects are shown by colorful blocks that can be stacked like LEGO. This intuitive interface encourages younger kids to get involved with coding and 3D modelling, but be warned, this is not easy even for adults!
Once you are finished with your model, render to reveal your creation.
Geared towards 3D printing, Leopoly introduces students to 3D modelling in an easy-to-understand format. Users begin with a ball of clay and then are tasked with shaping the clay into their desired shape and design. Tools available to the users include painting, sculpting, and embossing. Once satisfactory, users can send their completed models to a 3D printer to create a prototype of their design.
To make getting started easier, Leopoly has a full library of projects that users can start with and build on, to reduce the anxiety one may have when staring at a blank canvas.
LibreCAD is a free CAD program that is open-source, it contains quite basic tools that users can utilize when creating and modifying 2D designs. Due to LibreCAD not having any 3D viewing functionality, the size of the program is a miniscule 30MB! It is a straightforward program that does not seek to overwhelm or confuse the user with too many complicated features.
It is a great starting point for beginners, but since it is open-sourced, more advanced users can also take advantage of the low (free) price and adapt the program to whatever they need it for. A customized CAD program to fit your needs for free, sounds good huh?
There you have it, the out top picks of some CAD programs that will be sure to to impress you, with their feature set, and their attractive price! Do you have a favorite from our list that you will be downloading? Is there a program that you think deserves to be included in our list? We would love to hear from you in the comments below! Thank you for reading our content and we hope to see you soon!
More about 2D and 3D CAD:
- AutoCAD vs. SolidWorks. What is the difference? Which is easier to learn?
- SolidWorks Student Edition: free and licensed versions overview
- SolidWorks System Requirements and Computer Recommendations
- Top AutoDesk Software in 2020: AutoCAD, Fusion 360, Inventor and Revit
- SWOOD – the woodworking design software for SolidWorks
- Top 5 CAD Forums on the Web
- Best 3D Printer under 1000