What is an example of CAD software?
Many CAD software (computer-aided design) is available on the market. These 3D programs could really help you in your daily work for various purposes: from visualization, to simulation to 3D printing, the benefits of CAD software are numerous. As we know, using 3D modeling software can be expensive, and you may not want to spend a small fortune using 3D technology. We understand you !
In this article, we will give you our best advice so that you can choose the best free CAD software ! We also made a selection to help you choose the best software.
This software could be one of the best resources for your business because it really offers new possibilities. They can improve your work and help you no matter where you live. Thanks to CAD software you will be able to work on the design of your product, do simulations and have very precise 3D visualizations. CAD software applications are almost endless.
You can use this software to get impressive 3D models for 3D printing and prototyping or producing your project. Whether it’s figurines or industrial parts, to create your 3D impressions you will have to start with modeling your project.
There are many CAD software on the market and you may feel a bit lost. To make the best possible decision, you will have to ask yourself the right questions. There are also many free software, similar to the famous Sketchup or Inventor.
What is your level of expertise ?
You can find software for any level of experience. Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced user ? Some software can be very difficult to use, with many functionalities and a complicated interface. Even when it comes to free CAD software, you can find really complex and technical programs. Your level of expertise will be the first criterion you need to consider when choosing your 3D software. Despite all the tutorials that exist online, you will need to choose software that is adapted to your level to create 3D projects that meet your needs.
In this article, we will make a selection of 3D software classified by level of experience: for beginner or advanced users !
What functionalities do you need ?
If there is software for all levels of experience, there is also software for all different industries. From the medical sector to architecture and fashion, you can now find dedicated software for all sectors. Indeed, each of these sectors has specific programs. Most of the time, software dedicated to a specific sector is not all free.
Many other parameters can be taken into account: do you need parametric or direct modeling software ? Parametric software allows users to easily modify a design and navigate the history of their modeling.
Prefer to use cloud-based software ? Storage on the cloud can be a perfect choice to improve your data management and avoid using complex CAD packages. You will have many criteria to take into account when choosing your CAD programs
You have never used 3D technology before and you want to start with a simple program at the intuitive interface ? Here is our selection of free CAD software for beginners and children.
This 3D modeling application is integrated into Windows. Thanks to a simplified interface, 3D Builder can be used by anyone. A library is available, where you can choose from projects already carried out. This program is very simple to use and does not offer many options, but it still allows you to work on STL files, OBJ or 3MF. If you are looking for a program to introduce yourself to 3D modeling and 3D printing, you absolutely must try it !
This program is perfect if you really have no 3D experience, while also being perfect software for children. Certain functionalities are also specially designed for schools, which makes this software useful for educational purposes.
Indeed, this is a good introduction to 3D modeling. Since this program really works as a construction game, it is fun and allows you to start easily with CAD. 3D Slash software provides intuitive access to basic functionality. This software allows you to create an STL or OBJ file, sculpt shapes and manipulate your 3D model quite easily.
This program even includes a virtual reality view !
3D-Crafter is free design software developed by Amabilis Software. It is an intuitive CAD program, thanks to its approach allowing the elements to slide and drop. It will allow you to create drawings and animate 3D objects. Even if it is free and easy to use software, 3D-Crafter actually creates complex 3D models, but if you wish, you can go further with a professional version for the development of games and access a more realistic rendering. However, this advanced version is not free!
This CAD software is interesting, different versions exist, but professional solutions are not free. However, you can still use a free version accessible via your browser.
You can create your 3D project from scratch, import a 3D model or check if you can find what you want in their library to customize it. Leopoly is an easy-to-use 3D creation platform. It also includes some virtual reality functionalities, which may develop in the future.
3D sculpture software can quickly be very expensive and a little difficult to use if you are not used to it. Fortunately there are some exceptions and SculptGL is one of them! This is a solution accessible via your browser which allows you to start with all standard 3D sculpture tools such as “brosser”, “publish”, “smooth”, etc. It is also possible to start working on textures and painting using this 3D sculpture program
SculptGL also allows you to work on multi-resolution sculpture, dynamic topology and remodeling of voxels with very good algorithms.
You want to use SculptGL to prepare your 3D printing project ? Look at our SculptGL usage tutorial. Do not hesitate to load your 3D files on our online 3D printing service once your template is ready !
You are looking for free CAD software to develop 2D projects? LibreCAD is made for you. It is an open-source program available under Mac, Windows and Linux. It is really easy to start with LibreCAD because there is no subscription, no license cost and annual fresh zeros.
This 2D CAD solution is developed by a dedicated community of which you could also be a part! This 2D software can be used to create elaborate drawings, 2D drawings or 2D projects for laser cutouts.
Here is another 2D CAD software! If you need to create 2D drawings, QCAD can be the perfect choice for you! Very similar to AutoCAD, this software will be perfectly suitable for beginners who need to work on 2D CAD projects
As you can see in the next photo, this software can be used for mechanical applications, but it can also be used for architectural projects to develop plans!
https://doc.ubuntu-fr.org/_detail/application/qcad_meca.png?id = qcad
K-3D is powerful and flexible open-source 3D modeling and animation software. This free CAD software is ideal for beginners, including an advanced defeat / redo system, which allows you to go back.
It is a rather dedicated program to artists, with a fairly easy to understand parametric workflow. It also has excellent visualization functionality, which can be useful if you work in architecture, for example.
LeoCAD is easy to use software that could be really useful for educational purposes. This program creates virtual designs using LEGO bricks, a perfect way for children to start with 3D modeling. This program is well suited to fairly large models with lots of parts, as you can see in the next photo.
This program is suitable for beginners for an introduction to 3D modeling, but it will also allow you to use advanced functionalities. It’s open-source software, so anyone can help and add new features.
Here is some interesting open source modeling software that will be perfect for people with little modeling experience. Indeed, the interface is very easy to use and suitable for beginners, but it still allows the use of a wide range of tools. This program has powerful 3D modeling tools, a customizable user interface and an integrated Auto UV mapping function!
TinkerCAD is a program based on a browser. No need to download it, you can access it online and launch your 3D design and modeling project. TinkerCAD is a great introduction to 3D software, perfect for education. Without any experience in 3D modeling, this program will allow you to bring your ideas to life.
This application works by placing blocks one by one to create the object you want. Its user-friendly interface facilitates the use of different 3D tools and the creation of your own 3D project
Do not hesitate to consult our tutorial to learn how to use TinkerCAD
This program is specially designed for education. It is a block-based interface designed to help students of all ages. This will encourage children to learn math through a fun system.
This cloud-based software works like OpenSCAD, but it is much easier to use. It’s a great way to learn about computer code!
Antimony is 3D parametric software. The workflow is quite intuitive, which makes it a little easier for beginners to access compared to complex parametric software such as OpenSCAD. Even if this software is not necessarily dedicated than to the most experienced users, you should already know a little 3D modeling to use this program.
Antimony generates really complex 3D models.
Meshmixer seems to be 3D software that is really useful for 3D printing or even for developing new designs for your products. It has many 3D tools, such as 3D sculpture tools, remodeling or smoothing functionality.
You will always need to train to make the best use of this 3D modeling software. If you need a little help to prepare your 3D file for 3D printing with this program, please do not hesitate to consult our tutorial dedicated to Meshmixer.
We will now focus on software for experienced users. This does not mean that these programs are all difficult to use, but you will need previous 3D modeling experience to start using them correctly.
This 3D modeling program might impress you a little at the start. OpenSCAD has the particularity of not focusing exclusively on the artistic aspect. It’s a perfect choice for elaborate projects. Thanks to the use of CSG (constructive solid geometry) and 2D contours extrusion, this software is intuitive. It is suitable for simple forms already defined in a parametric way.
It is clearly not an interactive modeler, but rather a 3D compiler, completely based on a description language. OpenSCAD is not for everyone, but real developers will appreciate it.
If you want to use this free software for your 3D printing project, please do not hesitate to consult our OpenSCAD tutorial
Blender is well-known computer-aided design software. It is direct modeling software. Blender is also used by some professionals to develop video games or animations. It looks a lot like software like Mudbox or ZBrush, and it is not really suitable for beginners.
This program is fantastic for those who will use it artistically, with excellent software tools such as sculpture, rendering and rapid modeling. This is perfect software if you need to create 3D printable 3D models, as it also includes CAD functionality to repair your meshes. This helps avoid unpleasant surprises when parts come out of 3D printers
FreeCAD is an open source, accessible and flexible 3D parametric modeller. This program reads many file formats, making it a practical program to integrate your workflow. FreeCAD has excellent modeling tools, such as an interesting simulation module.
From product design to mechanical engineering, FreeCAD will help you create your best 3D projects. It is truly suitable for all CAD users and is constantly improved by an entire user community.
This parametric 3D modeller was developed by Johnathan Westhues. It is a 2D and 3D CAD program, ideal for making 2D models using large drawing tools or for developing good concept of mechanisms. SolveSpace is available with Windows, Mac OS and Linux.
This design software is mainly intended for professional use. If you are looking for an excellent CAD program for making your parts using 3D printing technology, eMachine Shop may be the ideal solution for you! This program will analyze your design and tell you if there are any practical forms in your design.
This design software is mainly intended for professional use. If you are looking for an excellent CAD program for making your parts using 3D printing technology, eMachine Shop may be the ideal solution for you! This program will analyze your model and allow you to correct its errors.
Meshlab is software with many remarkable features, such as the processing of meshs. Meshlab allows you to work on large files!
This program offers solutions to reconstruct the shape of an object, to work on color mapping and texturing, but also to clean 3D models. Topological errors can easily be deleted, which can be useful if you want to create a 3D printable model for example. If you need a little more help, you can view our article on repairing your 3D files with Meshlab!
You can use this 3D solution to create geometric objects using 2D forms. Its functionality is quite similar to that of CATIA or Solidworks, which makes it practical for mechanical engineering projects.
It’s a free and really comprehensive program, even if it’s not professional software. It could for example be useful for students !
Art of Illusion
Art of Illusion is mainly used in the RepRap community. This 3D modeling and rendering software is really useful for animation. It also includes good surface subdivision characteristics. This design software is easier to use than other similar programs such as Blender, for example.
This free CAD 2D program was developed by Dassault Systèmes, which also develops SolidWords software. Draftsight has been specially designed for engineers, architects and designers. You can use its free version, but if you want to go further, you can buy the version of the software for businesses.
The free version allows you to make 2D technical drawings, compare creations, etc. It is a program for advanced CAD users. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
Here is another free alternative to AutoCAD for experienced users. It’s free drawing software offering advanced and efficient CAD tools. This 2D CAD program is only available for Windows. If you need even more advanced functionality, you can download NanoCAD pro or NanoCAD more, but this free version is already very complete.
Watch the video below for a full presentation of this incredible professional CAD software.
We hope this selection of free CAD programs will help you make a choice and develop your 3D print projects. These are software that you can download for free, but there are other professional software on the market with free testing, like OnShape, SelfCAD and many others. If you are a student, remember that many CAD software can be free for you, such as Fusion 360.
Your 3D model is ready? You can print it using our online 3D print service, just load your 3D files and get your parts in a few days. At Sculpteo, we offer a wide range of 3D printing technologies, 3D printers and 3D printing materials to enable you to make the most of additive manufacturing technology.