4 best alternatives to AutoCAD
AutoCAD is the Autodesk’s flagship product, the developer, which assists users in designing products or buildings, production planning, construction, and civil infrastructure. However, Autodesk no longer offers AutoCAD perpetual licensing and is instead switching to subscription licensing, forcing users to seek alternative solutions.
If you are a casual student or hobbyist working on a small budget, you don’t have to always choose AutoCAD. There are worthy competitors with similar support infrastructure and critical functionality.
The challenge is to decide which alternatives to AutoCAD are worth your time as the market is awash with creepy knockoffs. The four alternatives that I’ll cover are not only affordable, but they also read AutoCAD-like files, integrate easily with AutoCAD, and are intuitive to learn.
BricsCAD has a similar interface to the 2008 version of AutoCAD, as well as rich 2D design and direct 3D modeling capabilities. You can use it with major operating systems such as macOS , Windows and Linux , and hundreds of third-party applications from around the world that are based on .dwg.
Although BricsCAD is a paid software like AutoCAD, it is more affordable with three editions: Classic, Professional, and Platinum. The latter contains a set of tools not present in AutoCAD, such as Sheet metal, 3D Compare and BIM.
BricsCAD is also cloud-integrated, has a powerful rendering engine, XREFS recognition, and is highly customizable.
Draftsight is a professional AutoCAD alternative designed for users looking for better ways to read, write, and share .dwg files. Draftsight has a huge design library from which you can use existing designs, batch print, and access macro recordings.
The program only comes in a paid version, but you can choose the cheapest of its pricing plans. This is good for students or hobbyists. For businesses, DraftSight offers three plans: Professional, Premium, and Enterprise, with prices varying based on your needs. As scale grows, the tool competes with AutoCAD by offering enhanced capabilities.
3. SketchUp (Free)
Formerly Google SketchUp is a free tool and a great choice for CAD professionals.
It is a 3D modeling program used in a wide range of applications, from interior design, architectural, civil and mechanical engineering to video game and film design.
Available as a free version, the program works with several types of files, including DWG, DXF, OBJ, XSI and others, and can also export animations in HD and PDF formats.
4. LibreCAD (Free)
This is another free alternative program that you can use that has a lot of functions and commands that are used by a large number of developers and designers.
LibreCAD is a high quality open source 2D modeling software built on top of QCAD (later known as CADuntu) and similar to AutoCAD in concepts and capabilities.
If you are familiar with AutoCAD, then LibreCAD is easier to use, especially for Linux users and those who want a free CAD tool that reads DWG files as well. It can also be used with Windows and Apple platforms and is based on Qt, the leading cross-platform application and user interface development framework.
Are there other great alternatives to AutoCAD that you are using? Let us know in the comments below.