Computer-aided design (CAD) is the use of computer technology to design objects, real or virtual. It often refers to the drafting (technical drawing and engineering drawing) of a part or product, including entire buildings. However, CAD software is used in a wide variety of other fields such as electronics and woven fabrics. CAD is prevalent in industry that uses design modelling or prototyping of graphical architectural depictions. CAD software is also widely used in automotive, prosthetics, shipbuilding, and aerospace industries, in all instances saving a considerable amount of time and money for designers. CAD software helps designers investigate design ideas, visualize concepts through animations and photorealistic renderings, and simulate how a design will perform in the real world.
Proprietary CAD applications can cost thousands of dollars. For many independent designers, the cost of CAD software can be a real barrier. Fortunately, there is a good range of open source software that is available to download for no charge.
The feature 6 of the Best Free Linux CAD Software, written in June 2009, highlighted our personal picks in open source CAD software at that time. However, we have witnessed other applications which have seen considerable development. The purpose of this article is therefore to identify these applications omitted from the original article, all of which are also definitely worth evaluating.
We have not included DraftSight in the list below, but it is worthy of a special mention. Whilst DraftSight is a highly commendable freeware 2D CAD product which is extremely useful for engineers, architects, and designers, the application is released under a proprietary software license.
To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 5 CAD tools. All of these tools are released under a freely distributable license.
So let’s explore the 5 CAD tools at hand. For each application we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot, together with links to relevant resources and reviews.
|LibreCAD||Fully comprehensive 2D CAD application|
|gCAD3D||Integrated 3D OpenGL viewer, program interpreter, and a programming interface|
|KiCad||Software suite for the creation of electronic schematics|
|Sailcut CAD||Sail design and plotting software|
|OpenSCAD||Create solid 3D CAD objects|
|Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.
The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.
There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.