Software & Apps > Design 802 802 people found this article helpful Top 4 Top Free CAD Programs for 2022 Our picks for software that's both useful and affordable By James Coppinger James Coppinger Writer Thomas Edison State University Former Lifewire Writer James Coppinger has 25+ years' experience in the CAD industry as well as mechanical, architectural, and civil engineering experience. lifewire's editorial guidelines Updated on January 3, 2022 Reviewed by Michael Barton Heine Jr Reviewed by Michael Barton Heine Jr Michael Heine is a CompTIA-certified writer, editor, and Network Engineer with 25+ years' experience working in the television, defense, ISP, telecommunications, and education industries. lifewire's editorial guidelines Tweet Share Email Tweet Share Email Design 3D Design Animation & Video Graphic Design Everyone loves to get something for free, but if that something doesn't do what it's supposed to it's still overpriced. On the other hand, if it's free and it's just what you're looking for, it's like finding money in the street. If you're looking for basic CAD software packages and do not need highly technical functionality, you likely will find all you need, and maybe more, in one of these four quality packages that you can download for free. 01 of 04 AutoCAD Student Version What We Like Part of the Autodesk family of modeling applications. AutoCAD is an industry standard. What We Don't Like Watermarking on the free software editions. Full-featured and more complex than other programs, not newcomer-friendly. AutoCAD, the heavy hitter of the CAD industry, offers a free, fully functional version for download to students and faculty. The only limitation on the software is a watermark on any plots you generate, designating that the file was created with a non-professional version. Not only does Autodesk offer its base AutoCAD package free, but it also offers free trial licenses for almost its entire suite of AEC vertical packages, such as the Civil 3D toolset, AutoCAD Architecture, and AutoCAD Electrical. If you're looking to learn CAD or just do some personal design work, this is absolutely the way to go. Visit AutoCAD 02 of 04 Trimble SketchUp What We Like Clear features grid comparing paid-versus-free features. Options for home hobbyists to industry professionals. What We Don't Like Pricing model isn't great. Free feature is web-only with many important features hobbled. SketchUp was originally developed by Google and was one of the greatest free CAD packages ever put on the market. In 2012, Google sold the product to Trimble. Trimble has enhanced it and developed it further and now offers a slew of related products. SketchUp's free web-based version has plenty of power, but if you need additional functionality, you have to buy SketchUp Pro—and pay a hefty price tag. The interface makes it easy to get up to speed on the basics. Even if you've never done any CAD work or 3D modeling before, you can pull together some really nice presentations in minutes. Of course, if you're looking to put out detailed designs with accurate sizing and tolerances, you'll need to spend some time learning the ins andof the program. The SketchUp website offers a really impressive array of video and self-paced training options to help you along the way. The company no longer develops Sketchup Make, its free desktop software, but you can download it from Trimble's archives. Visit SketchUp 03 of 04 FreeCAD What We Like Well-supported open source platform. Ideal for engineering. Well-optimized for 3D work. What We Don't Like Clunky to work with. 2D features aren't great. FreeCAD is a serious open source offering that supports parametric 3D modeling, which means you can modify your design by going back into your model history and changing its parameters. The target market is mostly mechanical engineers and product design, but it's got a lot of functionality and power that anyone would find attractive. Like many open-source products, it has a loyal base of developers and can compete with some of the commercial heavy hitters because of its ability to create real 3D solids, support for meshes, 2D drafting, and lots of other features. Further, it's customizable and is available on multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac, and several Linux distributions, like Ubuntu, and Fedora. Visit FreeCAD 04 of 04 LibreCAD What We Like Free and open-source. Excels at 2D work. What We Don't Like Not as strong for 3D work. The website focuses on stuff that matters to app developers, not to CAD users. Another Open Source offering, LibreCAD is a high-quality, 2D-CAD modeling platform. LibreCAD grew out of QCAD, and, like FreeCAD, has a large, loyal following of designers and customers. It includes lots of powerful features that include snap-to-grid for drawing, layers, and measurements. Its user interface and concepts are similar to AutoCAD, so if you have experience with that tool, this should be easy to get familiar with. Visit LibreCAD Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Get the Latest Tech News Delivered Every Day Subscribe Tell us why! Other Not enough details Hard to understand Submit