is the go to CAD application of choice for many organizations, it comes with a
hefty price tag. However, there are a number of other less expensive CAD
applications available. Some are relatively light weight and are intended
primarily for beginners, while others are intended for professionals and are
even compatible with AutoCAD drawings. In this article, I will discuss five CAD
applications other than AutoCAD.
article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.
1. CADopia Standard
Standard is an AutoCAD compatible CAD program that can be used to create or
edit both 2D and 3D drawings. This application is designed for professionals
(even though this is not the Professional Edition). It includes drafting
features such as fly over snapping, poly line creation and complex linetype
CADopia Standard sells for $649, but a 30-day trial is
available (with the print and save features disabled). The Professional Edition
sells for $949.00.
2. Ashampoo 3D CAD Architecture
3D CAD Architecture is primarily used for designing houses. Although the
software includes a number of 3D sample drawings of home exteriors, the
software is also capable of creating interior drawings and editing landscapes.
Ashampoo 3D CAD Architecture is far less complex than
CADopia, and is intended primarily as a consumer grade product. It is useful
for those who are considering a home renovation or expansion project.
Ashampoo 3D CAD architecture sells for $79.95, but a free 40-day
trial is available for download.
3. CadStd Lite
Lite is a free tool for creating mechanical drawings. When you open CadSTD,
a wizard allows you to create a blank drawing, a scaled drawing, or (oddly
enough) a family tree diagram.
For a free application, CadStd Lite includes a surprising
number of drawing tools and options. However, it does not seem to support 3D
drawings. Drawings can be exported in DXF format and it is possible to copy and
paste images into Microsoft Office documents.
4. DoubleCAD XT
XT is a free tool that is designed to create 2D or 3D CAD drawings. DoubleCAD
XT is designed for either personal or professional use, but CAD novices may
find the interface to be overwhelming. The coolest thing about this application
(besides the price) is that it offers an Architecture menu with options that
simplify the process of creating things like walls and stairs.
The odd thing about DoubleCAD XT is that even though it is a
free program, you are still required to enter a product key in order to install
it. The product key is JS30-8254-6012-7788.
You are also required to perform a free activation to use the software beyond a
30-day trial period.
is designed as an alternative to AutoCAD. The user interface looks very similar
to AutoCAD, but is lacking some of AutoCAD’s more advanced features. This
application is probably best suited for those who need professional CAD
capabilities, but who are not doing work that requires a super high end CAD
GstarCAD8 sells for $499, but a free 30-day trial is
available for download.