AutoCAD was the first of the programs CAD has allowed to create designs in two or three dimensions in such a way as to be used in different fields of engineering, architecture, mechanics, electronics, etcetera. Unfortunately, its high price sometimes does not make it accessible to all. This is why the best 10 free alternatives to AutoCAD .
The 10 best free alternatives to AutoCAD
FreeCAD is a completely free CAD designed primarily to create 3D models and is primarily intended for mechanical engineering but it’s good enough in other engineering applications (such as, for example, in the architecture). Use the main format FCStd but is able to import and export in other formats (such as, for example, STEP, DXF, SVG, DAE, IGES, STL, and others), you can extend the functionality of the program through the use of the plug and has a graphical interface very complete (for more information on the characteristics of FreeCAD I suggest you consult this page and here you can find the index of the online help). FreeCAD is available in many languages for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
BRL-CAD is a free CAD type Constructive Solid Geometry that allows you to create solid models (through the use of Boolean algebra) and can be used especially for applications such as: graphics (but it’s good enough for engineering). BRL-CAD, among other things, includes a geometric editor, the support to the raytracing , tools for managing images and signals, a set of libraries that allow the cooperation with other software, as well as the analysis support ballistics and the electromagnetic one. BRL-CAD allows you to import files in DXF and STL while you can also export them in EUCLID, IGES, X3D, TANKILL and other formats. Available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux in English and partly in Spanish.
QCAD is a CAD software, licensed under the GPL , which allows you to create and print drawings in 2D. QCAD uses the DXF file and, lately, also manages the DWG format, you can export files in different formats but, unfortunately, does not support the layout DXF and does not allow export to VRML and SVG. Available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux in multiple languages (including Italian).
LibreCAD is a CAD for 2D drafting released under the GPL and is based on the software libraries of QCAD. Most of the menus and controls are similar to those of AutoCAD, thus making it an easy to use by those users accustomed to using it. To import the file, LibreCAD using the DXF format and allows you to export them to many other formats. Available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux in different languages.
Archimedes is a 2D CAD software open source (released under EPL ), developed in collaboration with professional architects, with the goal of creating a better program than making AutoCAD, moreover, available for free. Among its features are basic drawing tools, export SVG (unfortunately still lacks export to other CAD formats, although that is in development in DXF), import in XML (and Arc) and a good localization in Italian (but there is also in English and Portuguese). Available for free for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
CADEMIA-Community is a CAD software, released under the GPL, indicated for civil engineering and architecture. It is a 2D CAD free, simple and easy to use that, among other things, allows you to extend its functionality through modules but, unfortunately, reads and writes only in its own proprietary format and, to be able to run on your computer, you must install Java . On the site there are, however, other paid versions (with a very affordable price) for professional users, students, teachers and individuals.Available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (English and German).
DraftSight is a free 2D CAD software that lets you create, edit and view files in DWG and DXF. Its interface is very similar to that of AutoCAD LT but as soon as you save or print for the first time, to continue to use the free program, will be asked to activate it within 30 days, using a valid e-mail address, then will be asked to re-enable it after 6 months, and then every year (that is, at intervals of 12 months). Available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
DoubleCAD XT is perhaps the best free alternative to AutoCAD LT since, due to its resemblance to the latter (both in appearance and in menus, commands and icons), allows it to be used without problems on the part of those who are accustomed to using AutoCAD LT. There is also a paid version (called TurboCAD LTE Pro) that offers some more features, but the free version is just fine as it does not have any kind of limitation (that allows you to open and save files in DWG, DXF and DWF but can even use the models Google SketchUp and SketchUp Pro). At present, however, is only available for Windows operating systems and only in English (in order to download and use DoubleCAD XT, you must also register via email, but can be used both for private and for business purposes).
nanoCAD is another 2D / 3D free, has an interface very similar to AutoCAD and allows you to create, read, and open files in DWG format. Unfortunately it is only available for Windows (in English and Russian) and to download the program must register through their email, but even in this case, you can use the program both for private and commercial purposes.
OpenSCAD is a CAD program that lets you create 3D solid models (type Constructive Solid Geometry ). This is not a modeler interactive rather than a compiler that creates a 3D model in 3D before reading one script (also from DXF files into AutoCAD 2D).Available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux in English only.
Of course in addition to these there are other free programs (or who have a much more affordable price), but I think that those listed are the best 10 free alternatives to AutoCAD (of course each with their own pros and cons) as they are the ones most commonly widespread (though if you know any of the others I invite you to segnalarmele in the comments).