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Best Free CAD Software For Mac of 2024 (2D & 3D)

Few of the best CAD software for Mac are free but many of them offer free versions for students or personal use. There are also many open source free CAD programs out there that can be used on a Mac.

If you’re a student of Computer Aided Design, the good news is that there are many major CAD applications that offer free Educational Editions for teachers and students.

This includes major industry standard CAD applications such as AutoCAD and Fusion 360.

But even if you are just a beginner wanting to experiment with CAD design or redesign your home, there are some excellent free and open source CAD applications that can be used without limitations or restrictions.

Whether you’re looking for free architectural, mechanical or product design CAD software, you’ll find something here to use that doesn’t cost a cent.

In our testing and research, we found the best CAD application that can be used for free on a Mac is AutoCAD with the Education Edition offering full free usage of its industry leading tools.

Free CAD Software vs 3D Modelling Software

In this article, we’ve focused on free CAD tools that are mainly for architectural and mechanical design usage.

Although there is some crossover, these are different from 3D modelling tools which are designed more for visualizing buildings, product designs and components in 3D.

In this roundup, we’ve looked at a range of options including both the best Mac compatible 2D CAD and 3D CAD applications

1. AutoCAD

autocad for mac 2024

AutoCAD is one of the most widely used CAD applications in the world and Autodesk allow you to use the Educational Edition of it absolutely free.

AutoCAD is available both as a Mac desktop client and you can also use it online via the web app.

The full version of AutoCAD does both 2D and 3D design but if you don’t need 3D modelling, AutoCAD LT is just focused on 2D designing.

Although it’s one of the most powerful CAD applications out there, Autodesk has simplified the interface in recent updates to make it less overwhelming and more accessible.

The latest version of AutoCAD 2024 For Mac has also been improved with useful touches like a new faster 3D graphics engine, trace tool, blocks counting tool and much better integration with the web version.

When it comes to professional architecture, engineering and construction blueprints, AutoCAD is still the leading product in Computer Aided Design and the free educational version is a steal.

You can also read more in our full AutoCAD For Mac review.

Pricing: Educational Edition Free /AutoCAD LT $60/month, AutoCAD $245/month

2. SketchUp Free

SketchUp Free (formerly Google Sketchup) is a free online design tool that has now evolved into a powerful 2D and 3D CAD software.

Although it’s frequently used for 3D modelling, many people use it as a free alternative to AutoCAD for Mac and other commercial CAD software such is its powerful toolset.

The professional version of SketchUp costs $349 per year and there’s a more limited version SketchUp Go which costs $119 per year.

SketchUp Free is however completely free for non commercial use and allows you to do both 2D and 3D CAD with 10GB of online storage included.

The free version is perfect for hobbyists although professionals in architecture, construction, engineering will need SketchUp Pro.

You can check out our review of SketchUp for more.

Pricing: Free for personal use, SketchUp Go $199/year, SketchUp Pro $349/year

3. OnShape

onshape for mac

Onshape has been designed by the team behind the popular SolidWorks 3D CAD design software and is 100% free for personal use.

Solidworks is Windows only and although you can run SolidWorks on Mac using a virtual machine, it doesn’t work as well as on a PC.

Enter Onshape which works in any Mac in a browser and allows you to do pretty much anything you can do in Solidworks for free.

Onshape is one of the first ever Cloud native 3D CAD and PDM tools and allows teams to design in real time together.

Onshape allows you to create complex parts, assemblies, detailed drawings and even does rendering in any web browser on a Mac.

There’s no Mac desktop app but there is an Onshape app for iPad and iPhone which allows you to design in 3D on a mobile device.

Note that the although OnShape is free for non-commercial use, your projects will be made publicly available.

Professionals and businesses plans start at $1,500 per year.

Pricing: Free / Plans starting from $1,500/year.

4. Fusion 360

cad programs for mac - autodesk fusion

Like AutoCAD, Fusion 360 is also made by Autodesk and is free for non-commercial, personal use.

Fusion 3D is mainly a 3D modelling software although its frequently used alongside CAD software to create product prototypes.

Whereas AutoCAD is focused on 2D and 3D CAD, Fusion 360 is oriented around taking blueprints to create prototypes and ultimately, manufacture the final product.

Like OnShape, Fusion 360 works in any browser on a Mac although a native desktop app for Apple Silicon Macs is currently in testing.

Pricing: Free for personal use/Commercial license $70 per month

5. Shapr3D

shapr3d for mac

Shapr3D is a well designed 3D CAD that has a free Mac desktop app for students or anyone that wants to do a maximum of 2 designs with it.

Shapr3D is designed for beginners to 3D CAD and the basics can be learned in little more than an hour.

It can also be used with most major drawing tablets (such as Wacom tablets) for creating sketches and making 3D models.

On tablets, Shapr3D also supports pressure inputs on the Apple Pencil if you’re using the iPad as a drawing tablet for CAD.

Its designed to take your ideas from initial sketch all the way through to industrial blueprint although many people use it for sketching ideas quickly before finishing them in more powerful tools like Fusion 360.

Shapr3D syncs across macOS, Windows and mobile meaning you can start designing on a Mac but also switch to other devices such as iPad and Surface Pro if you’re on the move.

You can use Shapr3D for free for up to 2 designs and it’s also free for student or educators.

Pricing: Free for students or 2 designs, Commercial plans start at $25/m

6. BRL-CAD

brl-cad for mac

BRL-CAD was first designed back in 1979 and is a powerful free open source CAD modeling software that works on both Mac and Windows PCs.

BRL-CAD has even been used by the U.S. military to model weapons systems for vulnerability and lethality.

BRL-CAD features advanced features such as interactive geometry editing, high-performance ray-tracing for rendering and geometric analysis.

It also features a performance analysis benchmark suite and geometry libraries for application developers.

Pricing: Free

7. NanoCAD

nanocad

nanoCAD is a free 2D and 3D CAD software that supports importing of DWG files. The software is completely free to use, even for commercial use.

nanoCAD has an easy to follow interface with command line tools. It also features reusable blocks and references to external drawings.

Unfortunately, the free version of NanoCAD doesn’t support the latest versions of the DWG format, advanced layer controls and 3D solids modelling among other things.

However, other than that the free version offers much of the functionality of the paid versions which do support the latest DWG formats.

You can see a comparison of the free vs paid version of NanoCAD here.

Pricing: Free, Starts at $249 for nanoCAD 23

8. QCAD

free cad software mac - qcad

QCAD is a basic, free open source 2D Computer Aided Drafting application for Mac, Windows and Linux which allows you to create technical drawings for buildings, interiors, mechanical parts, schematics and diagrams.

QCAD is a great starting point for novices in CAD design with a simplified, clear interface but plenty of features.

QCAD can import and open DWG and DXF files and also has a special add-on for Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM).

There’s also a professional version of QCAD which costs less than $40 and adds extra features although it doesn’t support 3D CAD.

If you’re new to CAD and need something easy to get started with at zero cost, QCAD is an excellent beginners CAD package for Mac users.

Pricing: Free

9. OpenSCAD

best cad for mac - openscad

OpenSCAD is a free open source 3D modelling application which can create 3D CAD models.

Unlike similar 3D modelling software such as Blender, it’s less focused on the aesthetics of 3D modelling but more on the CAD aspects.

OpenSCAD is aimed at those that need to create 3D models of machine parts for example but not those that want to create 3D computer-animated movies.

OpenSCAD requires some knowledge of deep nesting and writing in modules because it’s a 3D compiler that reads scripts and then renders the model from that file.

If you know what you’re doing with scripts, OpenSCAD is a powerful tool and costs nothing.

Pricing: Free

10. FreeCAD

freecad

As the name suggest, FreeCAD is a free 3D modelling software for Mac which uses Parametric modelling to create designs.

If you’re comfortable with scripting and modules, FreeCAD is another powerful yet free 3D design tool for Macs.

FreeCAD can read files in STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DXF, OBJ, IFC and DAE format and is aimed mainly at those in mechanical engineering and product design fields.

FreeCAD features some of the tools found in major industry leading CAD applications such as SolidWorks but relies more on modules and scripts to design things like OpenSCAD.

Pricing: Free

11. Draft It 2D

draftit

Draft It 2D is a free 2D CAD design package that’s not up to professional standards but is a good entry-level CAD software for students and beginners to CAD.

Draft It features basic tools such as snap-to end points, dynamic dimensions and a comprehensive help system.

The free version of Draft It 2D allows you to create, print, and save your designs, and there are no annoying in-app adverts or pop-up notifications.

Its ideal for hobbyists, self-employed users, builders, those interested in home design or renovation/DIY.

Pricing: Free, Paid versions with more features start at $30

12. LibreCAD

librecad

LibreCAD is a 2D drawing software based on the community edition of QCad. LibreCAD might not be suitable for professional needs but is an excellent primer for those new to CAD.

LibreCAD can import DXF and DWG files and can export DXF, SVG, JPG, PNG, PDF and other files.

LibreCAD has all the basic tools you need to draw 2D designs including layers, blocks, splines and advanced tangent line & circle tools.

Since it isn’t bloated with 3D features, LibreCAD is extremely fast and lightweight and because it’s open source, doesn’t cost a cent.

Pricing: Free

13. LeoCAD

leocad

LeoCAD is an unusual CAD tool that’s based on Lego building blocks. It works via a free Mac desktop app and there’s also a version for Windows and Linux.

This makes LeoCAD not only easy to use but fun for beginners including children and young students.

Despite this you can build some pretty complex models with LeoCAD and its fully compatible with the LDraw Standard.

The software can read and write LDR/MPD files so that you can share and download models from other users.

LeoCAD also integrates with the LDraw parts library which has over 10,000 parts to choose from.

Pricing: Free

14. DesignSpark Explorer

designspark explorer free

DesignSpark Explorer is a powerful free gesture based CAD software that’s aimed at students and beginners to CAD.

Although DesignSpark Mechanical isn’t free, the Explorer edition gives you many of the features that are available within it and allows you to create complex geometry.

The Explorer edition can also import Solidworks, AutoCAD and CATIA files.

The free version of DesignSpark Explorer supports:

  • Unlimited projects and design size
  • Pull, blend, fill and combine tools for complex shapes and geometry manipulation
  • Generate Bill of Materials and get quotes
  • Import PCBs in the IDF format
  • Measure and quality tools (check mass properties, draft angles, curvature, deviation, etc.)
  • Equation and constraint-based sketching tools

You only need to create a DesignSpark account and get verified to start using it for free.

Pricing: Free

15. TinkerCAD

tinkercad

TinkerCAD is another free Autodesk product aimed at beginners to 3D modelling, electronics and coding.

The Cloud based tool is aimed mainly at teachers and young students that are learning about how to create in 3D.

It can also be used as an electrical design software to create circuits and teaches basic programming via “blocks” that are easy enough for kids to use.

Other handy features in TinkerCAD include support for importing and exporting STL, OBJ and SVG files. You can even use TinkerCAD with an iPad as a drawing tablet as it supports the Apple Pencil.

Pricing: Free


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