10 Free and useful computer-aided design software

Written by On Mar 20, 2010

computer-aided design (CAD) is a combination of computer programs and systems that allow engineers and architects to design detailed two- or three-dimensional models of physical objects, such as mechanical parts, buildings, and molecules.

computer-aided design (CAD) is a combination of computer programs and systems that allow engineers and architects to design detailed two- or three-dimensional models of physical objects, such as mechanical parts, buildings, and molecules.
It specially used to design curves and figures in two-dimensional (“2D”) space; or curves, surfaces, and solids in three-dimensional (“3D”) objects. There are so many “free” CAD programs out there but only a handful are either really free or useful. Here is 10 Free and useful computer-aided design software.

  1. Archimedes

    Archimedes Computer aided design (CAD) software

    Archimedes is an open source Computer aided design (CAD) software that mainly focus on architectural design. It is a robust system built over Eclipse’s Rich Client Platform fully based on plug ins. This means it is easily extensible but also has a pretty thin core that allows you to select the features you need and drop the other ones easily.

    Features :

    1. Basic drawing tools like; Lines, Polylines, Arcs,Circles,Editable Text,Explode and Offset.
    2. Advanced CAD functions like; Trimming, Filleting and Area measurement.
    3. Hand drawing easily exported in scalable vector graphics (SVG) format
    4. Auto save functionality
    5. English, Portuguese, and Italian language support

    Website: Archimedes

  2. BRL-CAD

    BRL-CAD - open source CAD system

    BRL-CAD is an open source cross-platform CAD system based on constructive solid geometry (csg) modeling system that includes interactive 3D solid geometry editing, high-performance ray-tracing for rendering and geometric analysis, image and signal-processing tools, network-distributed frame buffer support, a system performance analysis benchmark suite, libraries for robust geometric representation and analysis library, path-tracing and photon mapping support for realistic image synthesis and embedded scripting interface.

    Website: BRL-CAD

  3. Free CAD

    Freecad - open source 3D CAD modeler

    freeCAD is a open source Multi-platform 3D CAD modeler with advanced Motion Simulation capabilities. It is suitable for anyone interested in learning 3D CAD and Motion Simulation for free before using more sophisticated packages. It mainly focus on mechanical engineering and product design but also fits in a wider range of uses around engineering, such as architecture or other engineering specialties. The program runs on Windows, Linux PC, Macintosh PPC and other Unix’s. Assembly data are unchanged across platforms.

    Website : FreeCAD – open source 3D CAD system

  4. HeeksCAD

    HeeksCAD -  Free CAD based on Open CASCADE

    HeeksCAD is a free, open source CAD application written by Dan Heeks. it specially designed to give you some useful features such as Import solid models from STEP and IGES files. Draw construction geometry and lines and arcs. Create new primitive solids, or make solids by extruding a sketch or by making a lofted solid between sketches. Modify solids using blending, or boolean operations. Save IGES, STEP and STL. Printer plot the 2D geometry or to HPGL. Import and export dxf files; lines, arcs, ellipses, splines and polylines are supported. Use the geometric constraints solver to create accurate drawings from rough sketches.

    Website : HeeksCAD – open source CAD applications

  5. monoworks

    MonoWorks 3D Computer Aided Design

    MonoWorks is a full-featured, Open Source 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) suite of Computer-Aided Drafting, Design, and Engineering tools that includes object-oriented math and modeling libraries, as well as interactive viewing and modeling applications. From simple tasks to advanced automation and visualization, the MonoWorks Project aims to provide a powerful and flexible set of engineering tools.

    Website: Monoworks – Open Source 3D CAD suite

  6. MeshLab

    MeshLab open source CAD software

    MeshLab is an open source, portable, and extensible system for the processing and editing of unstructured 3D triangular meshes. MeshLab is aimed to help the processing of the typical not-so-small unstructured models arising in 3D scanning, providing a set of tools for editing, cleaning, healing, inspecting, rendering and converting this kind of meshes.

    Features :

    1. Interactive selection and deletion of portion of the mesh. Even for large models.
    2. Painting interface for selecting, smoothing and coloring meshes.
    3. Easy to Input/output in many formats:
      • import:PLY, STL, OFF, OBJ, 3DS, COLLADA, PTX, V3D, PTS, APTS, XYZ, GTS, TRI, ASC, X3D, X3DV, VRML, ALN file formats
      • export:PLY, STL, OFF, OBJ, 3DS, COLLADA, VRML, DXF, GTS, U3D, IDTF, X3D file formats
    4. Mesh Cleaning Filters
    5. Remeshing filters
    6. Various Colorization/Inspection filters
    7. Interactive Mesh Painting
    8. Measuring tool. You can take linear measures between points of the displayed meshes
    9. Slicing tool. A new tool that allows to export planar sections of a mesh in SVG format
    10. 3D Scanning tools
    11. OpenGL Shader based rendering
    12. Large rendering (up to 16k x 16k) for high quality printing
    13. The history of the all performed cleaning/editing actions can be re-played on different meshes or saved and for archival purposes.
    14. Extendible plugins based architecture

    Website: MeshLab – 3D mesh processing system

  7. Misfit Model 3D

    Misfit Model 3D

    Misfit Model 3D is an OpenGL-based 3D model editor that works with triangle-based models. It supports multi-level undo,skeletal animations, texturing mapping, scripting, command-line batch processing and a plugin system for adding new features. It is specially designed to be easy to use and easy to extend with plugins and scripts.

    Website: Misfit Model 3D – 3D model editor

  8. Open CASCADE

    Open CASCADE

    Open CASCADE is a powerful CAD/CAM/CAE kernel and development platform for 3D modeling applications. It consists of reusable C++ object libraries and a set of development tools that are available in Open Source.

    Website: Open CASCADE

  9. QCAD – 2D CAD system

    QCAD - 2D CAD system

    QCAD is a Multi-platform CAD software Suite specially designed for 2D design and drafting. it’s a powerful yet easy to use 2D CAD program for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X and uses the AutoCAD DXF file format internally as its standard file format. While other CAD packages are often rather complicated to use, QCad tries to stay comfortable, and even an absolute beginner can create professional drawings with a minimum of effort.

    Website: QCAD – multi-platform 2D CAD system

  10. SALOME Open source CAD

    Salome cad

    Salome is an open source Integration Platform for Numerical Simulation that provides a generic platform for Pre- and Post-Processing for numerical simulation. It is based on an open and flexible architecture made of reusable components. the software is a cross-platform solution and distributed as open-source software under the terms of the GNU LGPL license.

    It use as standalone application for generation of CAD models, their preparation for numerical calculations and post-processing of the calculation results.


    1. Easy to Create/modify, import/export (IGES, STEP, BREP), repair/clean CAD models
    2. Supports interoperability between CAD modeling and computation software (CAD-CAE link).
    3. Mesh CAD models, edit mesh, check mesh quality, import/export mesh (MED, UNV, DAT, STL)
    4. Makes easier the integration of new components into heterogeneous systems for numerical computation.
    5. Easy to Handle physical properties and quantities attached to geometrical items
    6. Display computation results (scalar, vectorial)
    7. Provides a generic user-friendly and efficient user interface, which helps to reduce the costs and delays of carrying out the studies.
    8. Reduces training time to the specific time for learning the software solution based on this platform
    9. Manage studies (create, save, reload)
    10. Provides access to all functionalities via the integrated Python console.

    Website: SALOME open source CAD

Article Categories:
Design tools and Software

Comments to 10 Free and useful computer-aided design software