CAD Software

Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Autodesk AutoCAD

Autodesk, Inc. is an American multinational software company that makes software products and services for the architecture, engineering, construction, product design, manufacturing, media, education, and entertainment industries. It bills itself as a “… leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software”.

The company was founded in 1982 by John Walker, who was a joint developer of the first versions of AutoCAD, the company’s best known software application. Autodesk is listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange, it has over 11,000 employees, and is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.

While Autodesk develops many high quality applications they are proprietary software. And the vast majority of their products are not available for Linux. This series looks at the best free and open source alternatives.

AutocadAutodesk AutoCAD is computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting software. It’s used in industry, by architects, project managers, engineers, graphic designers, city planners and other professionals.

AutoCAD is proprietary software and not available for Linux. What are the best free and open source alternatives?


1. QCAD

QCAD is an application for 2D computer aided drafting.

QCAD enables users to create technical drawings such as plans for buildings, interiors, mechanical parts or schemas and diagrams.

It uses DXF as its standard file format. While other CAD packages are often complicated to use, QCad tries to be different.

QCAD
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2. FreeCAD

FreeCAD is a 3D-Solid and general purpose design CAD/CAE.

FreeCAD is aimed directly at mechanical engineering and product design but also fits in a wider range of uses around engineering, such as architecture or other engineering specialties.

FreeCAD
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3. BRL-CAD

The BRL-CAD package is a powerful Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG) solid modeling system.

BRL-CAD includes an interactive 3D solid geometry editor, a network-distributed symmetric multiprocessing high-performance ray-tracer, network-distributed framebuffer support, image and signal-processing tools, ray-tracing support for rendering and geometric analysis, path-tracing and photon mapping support for realistic image synthesis, animation capabilities, ray-tracing and numerical processing libraries, a system performance analysis benchmark suite, an embedded scripting interface, and a robust high-performance geometric representation and analysis library.

BRL-CAD


For other free and open source CAD alternatives, check out our CAD roundup.


Alternatives to Autodesk's Products
3ds Max3ds Max is a 3D computer graphics program for making 3D animations, models, games and images.
ArnoldArnold is software for rendering three-dimensional, computer-generated scenes using unbiased, physically-based, Monte Carlo path tracing techniques.
AutoCADAutoCAD is computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting software. It's used in industry, by architects, project managers, engineers, graphic designers, city planners and others.
EagleEAGLE is a scriptable electronic design automation (EDA) application with schematic capture, printed circuit board (PCB) layout, auto-router and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) features.
FlameFlame is 3D visual effects (VFX), finishing, and color grading software. It includes AI-powered tools and remote solutions.
MayaMaya creates assets for interactive 3D applications (including video games), animated films, TV series, and visual effects.
MudboxMudbox is 3D digital painting and sculpting software. Sculpt and paint highly detailed 3D geometry and textures.
ReCapReCap lets you create rich and accurate digital models of existing conditions. Capture high-quality, detailed models of real-world assets.
ShotGridShotGrid is project management software used for visual effects and animation project management in television shows and movie production and video game development.
SketchbookSketchbook is a raster graphics software app intended for expressive drawing and concept sketching. It's also useful for making animations.
Autodesk TinkercadTinkercad is an online 3D modeling program that runs in a web browser. Tinkercad uses a simplified constructive solid geometry method of constructing models.
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