Looking for an alternative to AutoCAD? In this article, we introduce some 2D CAD drawing softwares that can be AutoCAD alternatives.
For a long time, AutoCAD is one of the best and industry-leading software to help users in mechanical engineering, architecture and some other fields. Usually we use it as a 2D CAD program. But maybe it is too big or too expensive for some small companies or hobbyists. Then an affordable alternative 2D CAD drawing software is needed.
LibreCAD (Free alternative to AutoCAD, open source)
LibreCAD is free open-source software made by Libre. It is available in more than 30 languages. LibreCAD supports macOS, Windows and Linux platforms. It is a 2d cad program that looks and behaves very similar to Adobe’s option. It is not similar to AutoCAD’s interface.
nanoCAD (Free,Paid, alternative to AutoCAD from Russia)
NanoCAD is created by Nanosoft. Nanosoft is a CAD developer and service provider based in Moscow,Russia. NanoCAD is a professional grade CAD tool and it is native DWG compatibility, so its drawing can be used by almost any other popular CAD system. It is total free to use and share. If you have experience to use AutoCAD, you will find it is very easy to use nanoCAD. It is even better than AutoCAD.
NanoCAD Plus is everything nanoCAD is, and more. NanoCAD and nanoCAD Plus can work on windows platform.
Nanosoft have some other products too: NanoCAD PRO,nanoCAD MECHANICA,nanoCAD CONSTRUCTION, and nanoCAD 3DSCAN. If you just use the software to do 2d drawing job,nanoCAD or nanoCAD Plus is ok. You can subscribe to nanoCAD Plus at appr.150~250USD/year(update:2021).
DraftSight (Paid, alternative to AutoCAD from French)
DraftSight is a professional-grade software. It is another popular 2d drawing program. This software comes from DS company which is loacated in French. Many students, teachers, hobbysists, industrial specialists use this program for design work.
The user interface is similar to AutoCAD, it support DXF/DWG files natively, and some functions even better. An AutoCAD user can switch to DraftSight easily. For example, you can develop 2D G-code directly in this program and then send to a CNC machine to manufacture the parts. You can use existing designs from its huge design library too. If you use Solidworks as 3D program which is also created by DS,DraftSight is the best partner.
DraftSight offers 4 plans-Standard, Professional, Premium(includes 3D), Enterprise and Enterprise Plus. For students,educators, hobbyists or individuals, the Standard plan is ok,it has the fundamental 2D drawing tools. DraftSight Professional is the most popular plan. If you just need 2D CAD drafting solution, this plan is the best. You can get DraftSight Professional at appr. 90~250usd/year(update:2021). DraftSight can run on Windows and Mac OS.
ZWCAD(Paid, 2D Drawing software from China)
ZWCAD is from ZWSOFT which is a China company. ZWCAD is compatible with DWG format seamlessly. It has a similar user interface to AutoCAD. It has many useful features, such as mechanical blocks, architectural blocks, electrical blocks. You can create your blocks and store them too. With this 2d CAD software, you can convert information into bar codes or QR codes and then embed them in the drawing. Now it runs on the Windows platform. It has three plans: Standard, Professional, and Mechanical. The price is appr.USD1000~2000, depending on the plans, including perpetual license and one-year maintenance(update: 2021).
AutoCAD is a good 2D drawing software from Autodesk which is a great USA company. But it is not the only option. We can choose other 2D drawing software too. If you need, there are some APPs that can run on mobiles too.
For hobbyists or DIY projects, a free 2d drawing software should be ok, so you can choose LibreCAD, nanoCAD. But for business or you need to communicate with other customers, I suggest you choose a paid software. Usually they are more stable and more tools-nano CAD PRO, DraftSight Professional, ZW CAD Professional are all ok.