Top 6 BEST FREE 2D & 3D CAD Software For Beginners [2021 List]

Review and List of the Top CAD Software with Features, Comparison, and Pricing. Select the Best CAD Tool From This List Based on Your Requirements:

If traditional drafting methods are not producing the accurate drawings you need, then you need to switch to quick and modern CAD software. If you don’t do that, then the flaws in your design process may cause extensive loss of time and money.

Modern CAD software includes 2D and 3D design capabilities, thereby making it ideal for your design needs.

Whether you’re in the business of manufacturing products, or in the business of designing buildings, CAD can help to ensure your success. When you see your design plans coming to fruition, you’d realize the benefits of CAD drafting.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software

Designing a product or building is no easy feat as you need to consider a plethora of things. However, with CAD drafting and design, you can skip that step without comprising the success of your project.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Software

CAD is a process that involves product development engineers, CAD designers, and several design tools. For many years, 2D drafting services have been the primary service offered by CAD designers.

However, as the world moves towards 3-dimensional experiences, 3D CAD designs are starting to gain traction and companies see many potential advantages of using 3D CAD over 2D designs. Nevertheless, they both have an important place in the world of CAD drafting and design.

turboventilator

Another changing trend is the shift from on-premise CAD software to cloud-based solutions. Although on-premise CAD solutions still reign supreme in the CAD tools market, organizations across the globe have begun migrating to the cloud.

Following is a finding by Grand View Research that illustrates this better.

3D CAD Software Market size by deployment

[image source]

From the above infographic, we find that a greater number of companies are now looking for cloud-based CAD solutions than before and this trend will only grow in the future. Today, both on-premise and cloud-based CAD solutions are being used in a wide variety of sectors including manufacturing and the automotive industry.

Frequently Asked Questions About CAD Software

Q#1) What is CAD Software?

Answer: A computer technology, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software is used to design a product and document the process involving the design. One of the most widely used tools in design and engineering today, a CAD system is helping professionals to complete many important design-related tasks.

Used to create 2D and 3D design models on a computer, CAD drafting helps to make a variety of design tasks more efficient.

Different people define CAD differently, but they all agree to one thing i.e. computer-aided design is a process that reduces the time required to complete a design plan. In engineering, CAD is supplemented by Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) which is a process that uses geometrical design data to control automated machinery.

Q#2) What are the different types of CAD Software?

Answer: Although there are many different types of CAD, the two most commonly used forms of this software are 2D and 3D CAD Software.

2D modeling is one of the primary functions of CAD. Basic two-dimensional drawing, 2D drafting often serves as the basis to complete a more complex task. Some of the tasks associated with this form of CAD drafting include scaling, rotating, point construction and curve creation.

With 3D drafting, you can take your 2D designs to the next level. Typically, this form of CAD modeling is used to create solids such as buildings, bridges and machine parts. Additionally, it can be used to increase or decrease the volume of geometric forms such as spheres or cylinders.

In case you want to present traditional drafting documents, you can easily convert 3D models into 2D drawings. As they render models as most accurately resembling real-life objects, 3D drafting services are a more realistic approach to drafting than 2D drawings.

While both have an important place in the CAD drafting world, 3D CAD involves a far more comprehensive process than 2D CAD. With 3D modeling, product designers can create and analyze mechanisms, test the strength and weaknesses of given product design, verify shape and form factors in a computer, before the product/object takes physical shape.

3D Drafting can help those in the civil, mechanical and architectural industries to greatly improve design quality. Some of the major benefits of using 3D drafting and design include automation, simplicity of design and interactive analysis.

Also, 2D design methods are prone to some human errors but with 3D CAD Design Services, these errors can be completely avoided

Q#3) What is the benefit of using CAD Software?

Answer: Arguably, the biggest benefit of using CAD solution is creating professional designs quickly. Designs drawn on paper are susceptible to many errors. Not only that but locating these errors in the web of lines is tedious and difficult too.

Even if you manage to locate the error, rectifying it would require creating the entire design again from scratch, and waste more of your precious time.

If you opt for CAD drafting, you can create professional designs in a fraction of time. Moreover, CAD will allow you to change any part of the design quickly by automatically changing all succeeding areas that would require a change in accordance with the first change. This will result in time, labor and productivity savings.

Q#4) What are the benefits of 3D Drafting and Design?

Answer: As mentioned earlier, most people and companies prefer 3D CAD software over 2D CAD simply because it helps to accomplish more. While both 2D and 3D CAD software have their advantages, some of the benefits of using 3D CAD over 2D are listed below.

They are:

  • The ability to utilize several types of programs.
  • The ability to manufacture 3D Prints or Radio Prototypes.
  • Concurrent Engineering.
  • Increased design flexibility.
  • Increased design data integrity.

With 3D CAD, you can utilize several types of design programs including Solidworks 3D Modeling, Auto CAD Drafting, and Pro-engineer. As the different programs are known to have their weaknesses and strengths, this can be extremely beneficial.

In addition to the above, 3D CAD provides design data that can be utilized to manufacture 3D prints or rapid prototypes. These prototypes are useful for design evaluation, checking clearances in design aesthetics, functionality, entire movements, and assemblies.

Shared 3D CAD data can simultaneously enable engineering and manufacturing processes. Additionally, with 3D CAD, you get a more robust set of tools and methods to modify designs. Lastly, 3D Modeling supports all downstream chances, that allow all changes to be reflected quickly and accurately. This indeed makes it the best CAD software.

Fact Check: According to a recent report by Grand View Research, the 3D CAD Tools market will grow at a CAGR of 6.2% to reach USD 13.04 billion by 2025. The same report also shows how the global 3D CAD solution market is distributed.

Given below is a pie-chart illustrating the above fact:

Global 3D CAD Software market

From the above illustration, we find that the automotive and manufacturing industries are the biggest markets for 3D CAD software. The Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry also make up a sizeable share of the market and smaller percentages are assumed by the Media & Entertainment and Healthcare industries.

Another study by Prescient & Strategic (P&S) Intelligence Private Limited provides a complete overview of the CAD tools market from 2018 to 2023.

Flowchart showing the Overview:

Global CAD Software Market by Technology
Flowchart showing the Global CAD Software Market by Technology, Deployment Type, Level, Application, and Region.

[image source]

Pro Tip: There are many different CAD Software solutions to choose from. Some of these are free. However, choosing a CAD tool solely based on pricing is not recommended.

Instead, you should look for the CAD software that:

  • Produces a capable, efficient design.
  • Ensures compatibility with customers and suppliers.
  • Includes drafting tools that meet your standards.
  • Ensures reliability and stability.
  • Has built-in applications that benefit you or your business.
  • Is easy to learn.
  • Constantly innovates to help you keep up with the latest trends.
  • Fully meets your needs.
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List Of The Best CAD Solutions

Listed below are the best CAD software that is available in today’s world.

  1. 3D Builder
  2. 3D Slash
  3. 3D Crafter
  4. FreeCAD
  5. TinkerCAD
  6. AutoDesk AutoCAD

Comparison Of The Top 5 CAD Tools

Tool NamePlatformFormatsOur Ratings
*****
PriceBest For
3D Builder

3D builder
Windows, Windows Mobile, Xbox One, and Windows Hololense.3mf, obj, ply, vrml, STL.5/5FreeBeginners
3D Slash

3D Slash
Windows, macOS, Linux, Raspberry Pi or Browser.3dslash, obj, STL.4.5/5Freemium, $2/monthBeginners
3D Crafter

3D Crafter
Windows3ds, dae, fbx, dxf, obj, x, lwo, svg, STL.4/5FreeBeginners
FreeCAD

FreeCAD
Windows, macOS and Linux.step, iges, obj, STL, dxf, svg, dae, ifc, off, nastran, vrml, Fcstd.3.5/5FreeIntermediate level users
TinkerCAD

TinkerCAD
Browser123dx, 3ds, c4d, mb, obj, svg, STL.3/5FreeBeginner

#1) 3D Builder

Best For beginners.
Price: Free

3D Builder

A free CAD software app, 3D Builder can be used to perform 3D modeling on desktop PCs and other Microsoft platforms such as Xbox One, Windows Hololense, and Windows Mobile.

Users of this app can download 3D models created by others to make changes to them and then print them. This is perhaps the best thing about this CAD tool.

Features:

Multiple platforms and formats, a touchscreen interface that ensures an immersive experience by allowing the editing and modification of files. It also has a dedicated mobile app that allows using the device’s camera to scan objects and convert them into 3D files.

Cons:

  • Not too many options for CAD design and drafting.
  • It can be complicated to use for some beginners.

Website: 3D Builder


#2) 3D Slash

Best For beginners
Price: Freemium, $2/month.

3D Slash

This is great software for anyone without any previous experience of working on 3D designs. It is so simple that even kids can use it to create 3D designs. In fact, some of the features of this software are designed specifically with children and schools in mind. In short, 3D Slash is one of the best tools to get started with 3D CAD design.

Features: 

An array of tools, ability to import and modify existing 3D designs, integration with a range of online model repositories and printing services, ability to easily manipulate 3D models, etc.

Cons:

  • Simplistic looking.
  • Not built for advanced modeling.

Website: 3D Slash


#3) 3D Crafter

Best For beginners
Price: Free

3D Crafter

One thing that makes 3D Crafter unique is that it uses a drag-and-drop approach for 3D modeling and animation. What is the benefit of this? It simplifies the production of seemingly difficult or complicated design to a great extent.

3D Crafter features shape building tools that you can use to create complex 3D design models from basic 3D archives. Additionally, this CAD software allows you to position the shapes from one frame to another to create an animated scene.

Features: 

Relatively easy to use, tutorials included, real-time 3D modeling and animation, a drag-and-drop approach to 3D modeling and animation, shape building tools, ability to distribute 3D model once exported into an AVI file, etc.

Cons:

  • Only a few export formats.
  • Problematic in Vista.

Website: 3D Crafter


#4) FreeCAD

Best For intermediate-level users.
Price: Free

FreeCAD

Designed for intermediate level users, FreeCAD is free to download CAD software. A

software that allows you to create 3D designs of real-life objects, FreeCAD makes it incredibly easy to modify an existing 3D model by providing parametric modeling capability. You can simply scroll through the history of a 3D model and modify it by making changes to its dimensions.

In addition to the above, FreeCAD offers a modular architecture, letting users mount plugins to the core application.

Features: 

Rendering capabilities, full parametric model, robotic simulation, modular architecture, geometry kernel, path mode, sketcher, standard formats, intuitive interface, etc.

Cons:

  • Complicate for beginners and some intermediate level users.
  • Some of the modules do not update.
  • Complex learning curve.

Website: FreeCAD


#5) TinkerCAD

Best For beginners.
Price: Free

TinkerCAD

A free 3D CAD software, TinkerCAD is a three-dimensional design app owned by Autodesk and built for beginner. Designed to run in your browser, TinkerCAD uses an intuitive block-building concept and basic operations of modeling which allows the users to create design models from a set of basic shapes.

In addition to the above, you can use the TinkerCAD software to add and subtract shapes. Boasting a library of millions of files that allow users to find shapes of their choice and liking, the TinkerCAD software allows even beginners to create impressive CAD designs. Last but not least, you can use this CAD tool for laser cutting.

Features: 

Integrated 3D modeling, drag-and-drop method, 3D sculpting workspaces, rendering capabilities, shape optimization, manufacturing with lathes and CNC machines, sheet metal fabrication, structural buckling, assembly, and operation animation, STL compatible, Mesh repair, OBJ compatible, standalone slicer, 3MF compatible, downloadable application, cloud-based platform, etc.

Cons:

  • A low number of poly objects.
  • Its server does not work at times.
  • Difficult to follow dimensions at times.

Website: TinkerCAD


#6) AutoDesk AutoCAD

Best For intermediate level and professional users.
Price: Starting at $185/month. A free version is also available.

AutoDesk AutoCAD

An easy to use Computer-Aided Design software, AutoDesk AutoCAD provides users with all the tools they need to create CAD designs. Released for the first time in 1982 by AutoDesk, the AutoCAD software is one of the most widely used CAD solutions today.

Although it is relatively easy for beginners to learn and get used to, the AutoCAD software is targeted towards intermediate-level and professional designers. Not only does this CAD tool offers all the 2D and 3D design tools that intermediate-level and professional designers need, but it also equips them with the ability to instantly convert 3D models to STL files for printing.

Moreover, they can add lighting effects, hatching, and annotations to their designs. The only con with this software is that it may take users some time to expertly navigate AutoCAD.

Features: 

2D drawing and drafting, 3D modeling and visualization, suitable for complex 3D projects, easy to use, impressive photorealistic rendering capabilities, unlimited technical support, 3D scanning, smart dimensioning, layout viewports, 3D navigation, import 3D models, photo studio, mesh modeling, data linking, online maps, solid and surface modeling.

Cons:

  • Less realistic when compared to BIM applications.
  • Slow processing speed.
  • An overwhelming number of keyboard commands.

Website: AutoDesk AutoCAD


Conclusion

All the CAD tools that we have listed above come with their fair share of pros and cons. Therefore, the best CAD software for you will vary based on your requirement.

For example, 3D builder is a good choice if you’re looking to download 3D models created by others to make changes to them and then print them. 3D Slash is a great software for anyone without any previous experience of working on 3D designs. In fact, it is one of the best tools to get started with 3D CAD design.

If you’re looking for Computer-Aided Design software that employs a drag-and-drop approach for 3D modeling and animation, then 3D crafter is the CAD software that you need to choose. It is also a good choice for creating complex 3D design models from basic 3D archives.

If you’re an intermediate-level designer, then FreeCAD will be a good choice for you. Not only this CAD tool is free, but it also makes it incredibly easy to modify an existing 3D model by providing parametric modeling capability.

For designers who want CAD solution with an intuitive block-building concept and basic operations of modeling, TinkerCAD is a great option. This CAD software will provide users with a library of millions of files that allow them to find shapes of their choice and liking.

Suggested reading =>> Top Floor Plan Software

Finally, if you’re an intermediate-level or professional designer, then AutoCAD by AutoDesk will be a good choice for you. This CAD software offers all the 2D and 3D design tools that intermediate-level and professional designers need while equipping them with the ability to instantly convert 3D models to STL files for printing.

Our Review Process

Our writers have spent more than 6 hours in researching the most popular CAD software with the highest ratings on customer review sites. To come up with the final list of the best tools, they considered and vetted 15 different CAD systems and read over 20 customer reviews. This research process indeed makes our recommendations trustworthy.

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