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The 10 Best Free AutoCAD Alternatives

Until now, it was nearly impossible for architecture professionals and digital designers to escape the grip of Autodesk. Their CAD software developers are the largest in the world, and their 3-D modeling, drafting, and rendering programs are the most popular in the industry.

Despite the fact that alternatives to AutoCAD, Revit, and 3DS Max aren't going away, there are never been so many free, open-source alternatives that allow small offices and individuals to produce drafting work that lives up to the standards of some of the most expensive software on the market.

SketchUp

The popularity of SketchUp has extended far beyond the architecture, design, construction, and drafting industries, finding its way into the homes of those who could not otherwise afford or use such a program.

You can use it for free, and it's easy to understand. Though SketchUp has a laundry list of shortcomings when used as a primary drafting tool, it can be used as a temporary stopgap while you save up for a more robust program.

Designers and visualization artists who don't use SketchUp on a daily basis are missing out on a great idea generator. Concepts can be developed, improved, then shown off to friends, clients, and builders together.

Draft-Sight

If this is your first time drafting 2D models, you could do a lot worse. In other words, this individual, personal version of Draft-Sight will help you overcome your drafting fear by giving you a drafting program similar to AutoCAD. While the program may not include all the bells and whistles you find in the big boys, it will provide you with the tools you need for all of your drafting needs. The program has both an intuitive user interface and a language that is easy to understand, making it a great starter program.

Draft-Sight only requires a valid email address to get started. There is a Windows version and a Mac and Ubuntu beta available.

LibreCAD

The LibreCAD 2D drafting program has a strong, engaged community of over a million users who help improve the program as well as use it.

The program includes most of the standard 2D drafting tools and a fast, snappy interface to tie it all together. People familiar with AutoCAD will feel right at home using this program since it uses similar tools and concepts.

The source code for LibreCAD can be downloaded, used, and modified without charge. Being a LibreCAD user means your software is constantly evolving and tweaking to be better, more user-friendly, and more powerful.

QCAD

QCAD is two-dimensional modeling software that is free and open-source, like LibreCAD. QCAD is a free program that allows for 2D modeling only, so if you're looking for an alternative to AutoCAD, consider it. It is compatible with Windows, Macs, and Linux platforms.

QCAD's simplicity and ease of use are some of its best features. If you haven't used QCAD before, the interface looks un-fancy, but it's incredibly intuitive and pretty easy to figure out, even if you haven't used it before.

BRL-CAD

Another option to AutoCAD is BRL-CAD. They actually collaborate closely with LibreCAD, which was previously on this list of AutoCAD alternatives. LibreCAD is an application that operates under the umbrella of BRL-CAD in Google Summer of Code and Google Code-In.

In addition to being used by the US Military, BRL-CAD has a unique advantage not many other alternatives can boast of. U.S. Military weapons systems are modeled by BRL-CAD.

Leo-CAD

Users of Windows and Mac can use Leo-CAD, an alternative to AutoCAD. LEGO bricks are used to create virtual models in Leo-CAD. This is a very unique concept, and if that is something that interests you for whatever reason, it will make an excellent alternative to AutoCAD.

To learn more, watch the following video tutorial.

Video Source: The Binduvisarga

L-Draw tools are compatible with Leo-CAD, and you can add over 10,000 parts to models and designs using the L-Draw library, which includes over 10,000 parts. Leo-CAD also supports MPD and LDR files. In addition to being free, Leo-CAD is also open-source. This means that anyone can contribute a fixing or repairing a bug.

The 10 Best Free AutoCAD Alternatives