8 Great Free 2D CAD Software 2022 (Beginners & Experts) - StackCreate (2022)

Designing accurate blueprints and complex drawings used to be all done by hand, with sets of rulers, protractors, and other measuring devices requiring immense dexterity and a keen eye to use well. 2D CAD software has made that a thing of the past.

Unlike 3D CAD software, which is used in processes like 3D printing, 2D CAD software is used to design 2D objects like drawings or top-down models. These designs include blueprints, floorplans, and artistic endeavors like graphic design or comic creating.

  • We also have a guide to the best 2D animation software

What is 2D CAD Software?

2D CAD software refers to computer-based software used to create designs that only require the length and height of a project, without needing the depth of a 3D model.

While freehand artistic tools work well for more artistically creative projects, 2D CAD software needs high-level precision to be usable in planning out blueprints for buildings and interior decoration, which require accurate measurements.

Such measurements are often difficult to get exactly right by hand, and almost impossible for those not used to such design methods. This is where 2D CAD software can be a lifesaver for people who need precisely laid-out structures in reliable settings.

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Those used to 3D CAD software will know how useful base views can be when perfecting each side of a model. With 2D CAD software, you can turn this base view into a full design. This is especially useful for interior designers who want to turn 3D models into a 2D floor plan.

2D CAD design is used for laser cutting too, as it tells machines what patterns need to be cut to precise measurements, turning complex patterns and imaginative works into physical objects from computer-designed files.

What is the Best 2D CAD Software?

The best 2D CAD software for you all depends on what you need it for. Some are geared towards interior design, while others are best suited to mechanical and construction projects, and can also be used for laser cutting and engraving, or CNC.

Some software is geared towards architecture, others have more creativity in mind. If, however, you’re looking for more versatile software, you can check out our other rankings for things like the best graphic design software.

8 Great Free 2D CAD Software 2022 (Beginners & Experts) - StackCreate (2)

Here, we’re going to look at some free 2D CAD software that are designed with different specialties in mind to help you decide which is best for you.

Every software listed here are either completely free of charge, or come with free trials, so there’s no reason not to give any a try should you see one that sounds right for you.

(Video) AutoCAD Basic Tutorial for Beginners - Part 1 of 3

Completely Free 2D CAD Software

Like most products, the best 2D CAD software is normally paid for, though that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some free and open-sourced software available for anyone to use without subscription or purchase.

LibreCAD — great 2D CAD software for beginners

Starting with the most beginner-friendly of all the free 2D CAD software we could find, LibreCAD is available on a variety of operating systems, including Windows, Mac, and Linux.

LibreCAD is ideal for beginners designing simple drawings, and professionals drawing up detailed blueprints, LibreCAD’s 2D functions allow for a variety of uses. Cartoonists and graphic designers will benefit from its easy manipulation of images, while architects and interior designers take advantage of its precise and easy-to-measure line drawing.

Both mechanical engineers and artists alike will find its simple interface a refreshing break from industrial-level software, which can often be overbearing.

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LibreCAD acts like many drawing software tools, allowing for the direct manipulation of files. Finished designs can then be exported as JPEG, PNG, and PDF files for importation into other software.

Students and beginners alike will find LibreCAD’s no-nonsense interface a refreshing entry to 2D design, making it among the best free 2D CAD software available. However, veterans or those used to more professional tools may be left wanting.

QCAD

Another beginner-friendly 2D CAD software is QCAD, which offers many design, editing, and online sharing features that are ideal for graphic designers as well as architecture and engineering students.

QCAD is similar to LibreCAD in many ways, though its greatest distinction is its focus on immediate usability with an easy-to-use interface that even complete novices will have no problem understanding.

This interface includes auto-centering tools and measuring tools, letting you create accurate and precise drawings without needing the focus and dexterity of hand-drawing your designs.

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With a system and look similar to simpler programs such as MS Paint, QCAD offers a familiar and comfortable user experience, the tools and tutorials of which allow for easy creation and editing of 2D designs that can be saved in formats compatible with a variety of machines.

Designs created in QCAD are easy to get to precise measurements, so things like floor plans and even structural blueprints are drafted with ease and perfected with an interface that’s easy to grasp for designers of all experience levels.

(Video) Autocad - Complete tutorial for beginners (Full tutorial 1h40m)

Solid Edge 2D Drafting

As its name implies, Solid Edge is 2D CAD Software designed for in-depth editing of 2D models as well as creating them from scratch. Files made in other software can also easily be imported due to Solid Edge’s impressive compatibility range.

Exportation from Solid Edge is easy too, as files can be saved in the widely used DWG format, which is compatible with a range of other CAD software.

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A customizable dial makes for faster workflow, letting you quickly select your most used tools and further simplifying Solid Edge’s learning curve — especially for use when drafting schematics.

Solid Edge 2D drafting holds itself to professional standards in 2D model rendering, and boasts features that allow for the creation and redrafting of even the most complicated of mechanical designs with an easy-to-use interface.

This allows Solid Edge to stand out as it succeeds in its goal to be neither intimidating to newcomers nor underperforming for veterans.

NanoCAD — professional grade 2D CAD software

While likely more complicated than complete newbies will be comfortable with, NanoCAD is certainly amongst the most user-friendly 2D CAD software available, NanoCAD’s free version is a professional-grade software with a fully customizable interface for however you want to use it.

Ideal for both students and professionals, NanoCAD allows for both 2D and 3D modeling, and is designed for different project complexities. With this, you can grow your understanding of 2D modeling as you learn to use NanoCAD for both early designs and virtual prototypes.

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The 2D designs can even be translated into 3D models for deeper complexity and depth should the need arise.

While NanoCAD’s basic operations are free, the Pro and Plus versions come at a cost, though most would still argue that the free version offers more than enough functionality to satisfy professionals.

However, NanoCAD only functions as 2D CAD software for Windows, so Mac users will need to seek out alternatives.

FreeCAD — great 2D CAD software that also has 3D uses

FreeCAD may be more geared towards the 3D end of things, but that doesn’t mean it lacks 2D CAD software functionality.

(Video) Making a simple floor plan in AutoCAD: Part 1 of 3

FreeCAD’s 2D features allow users to draw in a free-hand style to create designs that can be manipulated in 3D afterward.

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Because of this, FreeCAD lends itself well to laser cutting, as the shapes and designs that were previously drawn can be reworked to an impressively accurate degree. This allows for great creativity as well as confidence in your designs.

FreeCAD’s focus on 3D means that it is lacking on the 2D front. However, its usefulness in forming and perfecting drafts of 2D projects makes it a good choice for people who want to explore their creativity.

KiCAD

Unlike many of the others on this list, KiCAD is a specialty 2D CAD software, developed for electrical engineers designing printable circuit boards.

KiCAD lets you design and test virtual circuitry, and even includes a 3D viewer tool for each design, allowing for detailed analysis into the boards you’ve created. This helps you pinpoint problems and weak points for maximum optimization.

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KiCAD’s ‘footprint viewer’ includes a selection of components that can be added or removed from the design to perform virtual tests. This is a lifesaver as it lets you spend far less time and money compared to actively seeing how physical parts fare in post-construction.

By incorporating this, KiCAD stands out by being a free money-saving tool as any design flaws are brought to light, instead of finding them out the hard way.

Schematics are stored in the built-in library, which lets you make changes without digging through computer files, and designs can be layered to ensure multi-part compatibility for combining separate components in one project.

KiCAD is open-source and completely free, and anyone working or studying electrical engineering will find it to be a useful tool that saves both time and money as you can analyze and inspect components and circuits before they’re even made.

2D CAD Software with Free Trials

While not completely free, the following are the best 2D CAD software with free trials and conditional licensing periods.

AutoCAD — industrial 2D CAD software

Perhaps the most comprehensive CAD software on this list, AutoCAD is something of an all-in-one 2D drafting software.

(Video) MAPP 3D Fundamentals | Project Setup, Organization, and Design Basics

With applications for architects, designers, and electrical and mechanical engineers, AutoCAD boasts a huge range of uses for a variety of studies and vocations.

While definitely a professional tool, AutoCAD is very useful for higher education students who want to level up their 2D CAD drafting and editing. A free student trial is also available for those in higher education to try out.

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Studies show how AutoCAD’s speed and efficiency are far improved when compared to even the best 2D CAD software available. Well-organized toolsets ensure users know exactly where to go to suit the projects they’re working on, including electrical, architectural, and even mapping 2D projects.

AutoCAD measures its usefulness by ‘productivity gains’ which they have also split into different categories depending on the toolsets. By looking at these gains in comparison to other software when used in different fields, users can see exactly how AutoCAD can improve their productivity and output.

While AutoCAD has a relatively expensive subscription service that can be paid either monthly or annually, students are eligible for a free three-year licensing period. Despite this, it’s still very much worth any professional’s time to give AutoCAD a good look, as many online reviews rank it as the best 2D CAD software today.

DraftSight

DraftSight is, as the name implies, 2D CAD drafting software that can also create 3D models. It was designed with compatibility in mind, and boasts itself as an upgrade for those who find their current CAD drafting software to be lacking.

DraftSight is compatible even with PDF drawings, which also makes it a good first step for those who have experience in 2D drawing but don’t yet have the CAD software to manipulate them in more complex ways.

DraftSight also includes a built-in ‘sheet set’ organization system to keep bigger, multi-file projects under control and easy to find when needed.

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Like AutoCAD, DraftSight features Dynamic Block support, complying easily with files imported from other software. Speed and ease of use are the goals, which should be familiar to veterans but not too intimidating for first-timers.

DraftSight has a no strings attached 30-day free trial, which should make it especially interesting for those who are either testing out new software, or looking to begin using 2D CAD drafting for the first time.

FAQs

What is the easiest 2D CAD software to use? ›

LibreCAD is a perfect free CAD software if you are a beginner looking for a program to start creating your 2D project and CAD drafting. It is an open-source CAD software available with Mac Windows and Linux. It is an easy program to get started with 2D design as it doesn't require any subscriptions or license costs.

Is there a free 2D CAD program? ›

QCAD is a free, open source application for computer aided drafting (CAD) in two dimensions (2D). With QCAD you can create technical drawings such as plans for buildings, interiors, mechanical parts or schematics and diagrams. QCAD works on Windows, macOS and Linux.

What is the most common 2D CAD program? ›

AutoCAD was developed by Autodesk and is the most well-known 2D CAD program.

What is the easiest CAD program to learn? ›

Contents
  • Tinkercad.
  • BlocksCAD.
  • 3D Builder.
  • 3D Slash.
  • MagicaVoxel.
  • 3DC.
  • SelfCAD.
  • Meshmixer.
5 Mar 2022

What is better than FreeCAD? ›

Other important factors to consider when researching alternatives to FreeCAD include 3d models and design. We have compiled a list of solutions that reviewers voted as the best overall alternatives and competitors to FreeCAD, including Onshape, SOLIDWORKS, Inventor, and Fusion 360.

Does Google have a FreeCAD program? ›

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.

Does Windows 10 have a CAD program? ›

Back to the Drawing Board takes full advantage of the unique features of Windows to provide a great drawing experience on desktops, laptops and tablets. It is an affordable CAD solution for businesses, consumers, students or anyone who needs to produce quick, accurate technical drawings.

What is better FreeCAD or LibreCAD? ›

FreeCAD vs LibreCAD Comparison

With an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars from its reviewers, FreeCAD is better rated than LibreCAD's average of 4.1 stars from 42 reviews. Both receive higher scores than the category average of 2.7 stars.

Is FreeCAD safe? ›

It is safe if you download from https://github.com/FreeCAD/FreeCAD/rele ... g/0.19_pre. A Sketcher Lecture with in-depth information is available in English, auf Deutsch, en français, en español.

Is LibreCAD really free? ›

LibreCAD is a free Open Source CAD application for Windows, Apple and Linux. Support and documentation are free from our large, dedicated community of users, contributors and developers.

How can I download AutoCAD software for free? ›

Installing FreeCad on Windows
  1. Step 1: Visit the official website using any web browser.
  2. Step 2: Click on the Download Now button.
  3. Step 3: Next screen will open now click on the 64-Bit installer button for windows.
  4. Step 4: Now check for the executable file in the downloads folder in your system and open it.
31 Jan 2022

Can I teach myself CAD? ›

Yes you can learn AutoCAD with the student version from Autodesk and check out InfiniteSkills.com for videos, tutorials, and books on how to teach yourself AutoCAD.

What is the most used CAD software? ›

Autodesk AutoCAD software is the most widely used CAD solution in the world, allowing you to design in both 2D and 3D environments. With AutoCAD design system, you can build 3D models, create and format drawings, and much more.

Which software is used for 2D drawings? ›

2D DRAWING AND DRAFTING. Autodesk has software for 2D drafting, 2D design and 2D drawing. Our most popular 2D software, AutoCAD LT, features an intuitive user interface, tools for collaboration and documentation, a web and mobile app and more.

Is there a free SolidWorks for hobbyists? ›

OnShape is a cloud based 3D CAD platform. It's similarity with SolidWorks is uncanny. Basically it's a free version of SolidWorks.

Is there a free alternative to SketchUp? ›

FreeCAD. FreeCad is another good alternative to SketchUp. It's free, open source and cross-platform. The community around it is alive and active.

How quickly can I learn CAD? ›

Depending on the instructor and individual, AutoCAD is pretty basic software to learn. For beginners, 4 hours a week for 30 days is sufficient to learn Autocad. For every level, you need to spend 4 hours weekly for 30 days more. Learning AutoCAD well means following the steps carefully and practicing after every step.

Is FreeCAD as good as AutoCAD? ›

AutoCAD is better as a drawing and drafting program whereas FreeCAD is more geared towards 3D parametric modeling. When using FreeCAD as an STL editor, you really notice its power. It is a CAD program to create exact and models for mechanical use, not for modeling only.

Is FreeCAD as good as Solidworks? ›

FreeCAD is one of the most popular alternatives to Solidworks. It is open-source parametric software with a great community working on improving its features and helping other users. This CAD software gives you the most popular 3D modeling tools such as booleans, extrude, etc.

Is Google SketchUp free? ›

SketchUp Free is the simplest free 3D modeling software on the web — no strings attached.

How much does FreeCAD cost? ›

This program is free; you can download a version for your operating system from the vendor's website. FreeCAD is an open-source 3D modeling software that enables you to create detailed technical drawings, as well as efficient CAM processes. Could your organization benefit from these features?

Is FreeCAD hard to learn? ›

Disadvantages of FreeCAD

It has a complex interface which makes it difficult for beginners. It has a problem of freezing when importing large files.

Does Google have a CAD app? ›

AutoCAD web app - Google Workspace Marketplace. Edit, create, and view CAD drawings in the AutoCAD web app anytime, anywhere.

Is CAD hard to learn? ›

It takes time and practice to become proficient with AutoCAD. It can be hard to learn, but it really just depends on how motivated you are to learn it. AutoCAD is a powerful program that can do a lot, so if you're willing to put in the time to learn it, then it won't be hard at all.

Is nanoCAD really free? ›

nanoCAD offers an AutoCAD-compatible programming platform at no cost.

Can LibreCAD open DWG files? ›

The best among these is a free and open source software called LibreCAD. The software is very small and it installs in a few minutes. You can simply open the DWG files in this software and also make minor drawing modifications in it. The LibreCAD recognizes layers and blocks of the DWG files too.

What is FreeCAD used for? ›

FreeCAD allows you to sketch geometry constrained 2D shapes and use them as a base to build other objects. It contains many components to adjust dimensions or extract design details from 3D models to create high quality production ready drawings.

Does FreeCAD have virus? ›

No. FreeCAD does not contain any ransomware. It is free software.

What language is FreeCAD written in? ›

FreeCAD

How old is FreeCAD? ›

Version 0.7 of FreeCAD released in April 2009 was the first to include the Draft module.

Is LibreCAD similar to AutoCAD? ›

The interface is similar to AutoCAD's but is rather uncluttered by comparison, presenting a friendlier alternative for the beginner user. LibreCAD uses DXF formats for importing and saving by default, and it has a large community of loyal users as it supports over 30 different languages.

Is Solid Edge 2D Drafting free? ›

Whether you need to use 2D CAD software across your company or for a specific 2D design process, Solid Edge 2D Drafting provides production-proven 2D drafting software - for free.

Is Fusion 360 free? ›

How long is Fusion 360 free for hobbyists or for personal use? Fusion 360 for personal use is free for 3 years for qualifying non-commercial users. A hobbyist user must generate less than $1,000 USD in annual revenue, using Fusion 360 for home-based, non-commercial design, manufacturing, and fabrication projects.

Will FreeCAD run on Windows 10? ›

The installer works on all Windows 7, 8, 10 and 11 systems. 32bit Windows, Windows Vista and older are not supported. An installation of FreeCAD 0.20 will not interfere with an installation of FreeCAD 0.19.

What is the size of FreeCAD software? ›

That's okay, but the size of the msi file is 21.7MB (22,831,104 bytes), while it states on the article page that it is about 25MB.

How do I install FreeCAD on Windows 10? ›

FreeCAD: Installing FreeCAD on Windows
  1. Download FreeCAD installer from following website. ...
  2. Run the installer.
  3. After installer window has been displayed, click Next to go next settings. ...
  4. License agreement is displayed on installer dialog. ...
  5. Set the users for whom FreeCAD is to be installed. ...
  6. Set a install path.
4 Jul 2022

How can I learn CAD fast? ›

Start by learning how to use 2D drawing tools and applying what you learn to 2D drawings. If you don't have any 2D drawings, just search the web; there are many 2D drawings available online. Once you get the hang of 2D drawing tools, then go for 3D which are mostly the same ones as 2D except for some specialized tools.

Is CAD engineering hard? ›

Despite all the innovations in design software since its inception (2D to 3D, parametric solid modeling, Windows-based UI), CAD remains difficult to learn and use. Computer-aided design (CAD) has come a long way in the many years we have been involved with it.

What CAD does NASA use? ›

NASA uses several CAD software packages. They use CATIA, Unigraphics and CADDS.

What is the future of CAD? ›

THE FUTURE OF CAD – DASSAULT SYSTEMES

There are new design workflows that are evolving where sketching is becoming less important. Two essentially sketch-less workflows are the use of direct edit methods for the reuse and/or modification of existing components, and the adoption of Sub-D modelling.

What are the three main types of CAD software? ›

There are various flavours of CAD available today and there are different methods of classifying them.
  • Types of CAD Software.
  • 2 Dimensional CAD (2D CAD) ...
  • 3 Dimensional CAD (3D CAD) ...
  • Single-file-mode systems - This type of CAD software allows only a single user to work on a single file at a time.

What industries use 2D CAD? ›

2D CAD is used across a wide range of industries – such as automotive, aerospace, fashion, and industrial design – to produce line drawings and layouts for different applications. Within the built environment, 2D CAD is used to create plan, section, and elevation views and details of structures.

What is the best technical drawing software? ›

Top 10 General-Purpose CAD Software
  • AutoCAD.
  • SketchUp.
  • Onshape.
  • Solid Edge.
  • Fusion 360.
  • SOLIDWORKS.
  • AutoCAD LT.
  • Shapr3D.
7 days ago

Is CAD still used? ›

CAD is used by engineers and designers in manufacturing businesses to develop 2D and 3D product designs for the purposes of visualisation and digital testing. Compared to manual technical drawing, CAD enables these designers to create, iterate and optimise their designs more quickly and easily.

Is FreeCAD hard to learn? ›

Disadvantages of FreeCAD

It has a complex interface which makes it difficult for beginners. It has a problem of freezing when importing large files.

Is FreeCAD any good? ›

FreeCAD Ratings

"Very good 3D tool and perfect for anyone who needs to review 3D models and does not own a commercially available solution. Backed by a dedicated group of skilled knowledgeable developers." "The best selling point for FreeCAD is that it is totally free, and hence even non-professionals can aid from it."

How do I start drawing in FreeCAD? ›

FreeCAD Beginner Tutorial : Sketch - YouTube

How much does FreeCAD cost? ›

This program is free; you can download a version for your operating system from the vendor's website. FreeCAD is an open-source 3D modeling software that enables you to create detailed technical drawings, as well as efficient CAM processes. Could your organization benefit from these features?

Is FreeCAD powerful? ›

Yes, FreeCAD is a completely free CAD software that's really powerful and feature rich, which is why it's our top pick for this list as well. The software brings support for plugins and more, all for free.

Is FreeCAD as good as Solidworks? ›

FreeCAD is one of the most popular alternatives to Solidworks. It is open-source parametric software with a great community working on improving its features and helping other users. This CAD software gives you the most popular 3D modeling tools such as booleans, extrude, etc.

Does Google have a FreeCAD program? ›

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.

What programming language is FreeCAD written in? ›

FreeCAD

Does FreeCAD have virus? ›

No. FreeCAD does not contain any ransomware. It is free software.

Is FreeCAD as good as AutoCAD? ›

AutoCAD is better as a drawing and drafting program whereas FreeCAD is more geared towards 3D parametric modeling. When using FreeCAD as an STL editor, you really notice its power. It is a CAD program to create exact and models for mechanical use, not for modeling only.

Which is better FreeCAD vs LibreCAD? ›

FreeCAD vs LibreCAD Comparison

With an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars from 51 reviewers, FreeCAD surpasses LibreCAD's average of 4.1 stars from 42 reviews. Both exceed the category average of 2.7 stars.

Is FreeCAD safe to install? ›

It is safe if you download from https://github.com/FreeCAD/FreeCAD/rele ... g/0.19_pre. A Sketcher Lecture with in-depth information is available in English, auf Deutsch, en français, en español.

How long does it take to learn FreeCAD? ›

Conclusion. FreeCAD may seem hard to learn especially due to the many workbenches. But on the contrary, it is one of the CAD software that has a favorable learning curve. With this guide, you can learn FreeCAD basics in just an hour.

Can you make drawings in FreeCAD? ›

As FreeCAD is parametric modeling software, you sketch by using drawing tools (1) and constraint tools (2). To make sketching easier, you can enable the grid (3). To show the grid, go to the Combo View in the Tasks tab.

Can you 3D print from FreeCAD? ›

With FreeCAD, it's possible to directly export to . STL (format), with a good accuracy. As . STL format is the reading format for 3D printers, Freecad is adapted for designing for 3D printing.

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