CAD and EDA Software Directory


Open Source CAD Software
FreeCAD: an Open Source general purpose feature-based, parametric 3D modeler for CAD, MCAD, CAx, CAE and PLM. FreeCAD is aimed directly at mechanical engineering and product design but also fits a wider range of uses in engineering, such as architecture or other engineering specialties. It is extremely modular, allowing for very advanced extension and customization. FreeCAD is based on OpenCasCade, a powerful geometry kernel, features an Open Inventor-compliant 3D scene representation model provided by the Coin 3D library, and a broad Python API. The interface is built with Qt. FreeCAD runs exactly the same way on Windows, Mac OSX and Linux platforms.

BRL-CAD: a cross-platform open source solid modeling system that includes interactive geometry editing, ray-tracing for rendering and geometric analysis, image and signal-processing tools, a system performance analysis benchmark suite, and libraries for geometric representation. Over 20 years of active development.

Open CASCADE a free open source software development platform that includes C++ components for 3D surface and solid modeling, visualization, data exchange and rapid application development. Open CASCADE Technology can be applied in development of specialized CAD/CAM/CAE applications. The typical applications built with help of OCCT are pre- and post-processors for finite element analysis software, CNC/CMM path generators, numerical simulation programs, etc.

Blender: an unrestricted freeware/open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems (Windows XP/Vista/7, Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, Irix) under the GNU general public license. Blender can import/export over 20 file formats, including DXF/DWG.

Sailcut CAD: an open source tool used to design sails for racing and cruising yacht as well as for model boats


Free CAD Software
FreeCAD: (also open source; see above)

Google Sketchup: unrestricted freeware that runs as a stand-alone program on the user's computer, creates surfaces from lines and extrudes 3D solids from surfaces, and offers a large library of pre-designed scenes and objects. System requirements: Windows XP/Vista/7 or MAC OS X(10.5+)

ProgeCAD Smart: (free for private use only) reads/writes AutoCAD DWG files from 2.5 to 2009, has industry standard AutoCAD Commands, has AutoCAD menu, script, font compatibility, has AutoLISP compatibility, has basic rendering options, has express tools, export files to pdf and jpg, 11,000 standard symbols and blocks available for free, works with Windows XP and Vista.

3DTin: A web-based CAD program, where you can create designs in your browser window, store them on the cloud, and share them with your friends. 3DTin is free to use if you share your designs under a creative commons license. 3DTin works in any modern browser that supports WebGL.

Blender: (also open source; see above)

Sculptris: Time-limited freeware for digital sculpting, works with .obj files, straight-forward GUI

Sweet Home 3D: a free interior design application that lets you place your furniture on a 2D house plan with a 3D preview. You can download Sweet Home 3D or use it through a web browser.

Free Downloads from SolidWorks

Consumer CAD Software (i.e. CAD software that normal people can theoretically afford)


Check out this feature comparison of 10 consumer CAD programs from toptenreveiws.com. The 10 software packages they compare are listed here.

DesignCAD 3D Max: ($100) custom tool palette, dgrag-and-drop functionality, import existing designs, text editing, command history, measure command, macros,  2D drawing tools, 3D modeling tools, cross hatching, parametric design, textures, snap tools, color editor, transparency options, lighting effects, photorealistic rendering, design wizard, wall tool, extrude 3D models from 2D designs, Generate 2D drawings from 3D models, animations, training videos, tutorials/user guide, email support, telephone support, user forums, built-in help section, works on Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

TurboCAD Deluxe: ($130) custom tool palette, dgrag-and-drop functionality, import existing designs, text editing, command history, measure command, point marker tool, 2D drawing tools, 3D modeling tools, cross hatching, parametric design, textures, snap tools, color editor, transparency options, lighting effects, photorealistic rendering, design wizard, wall tool, extrude 3D models from 2D designs, Generate 2D drawings from 3D models, house wizard, training videos, tutorials/user guide, email support, telephone support, user forums, built-in help section, works on Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Punch! ViaCAD 2D/3D ($100)

ZWCAD ($50)


TurboCAD LTE ($150)


SmartDraw ($200)


Alibre Design ($200)


progeCAD Standard ($300)


DeltaCAD ($40)




Commercial CAD Software (Content Mostly Stolen from craftsmanspace. Go check it out.)

NX: commercial CAD/CAM/CAE PLM software suite developed by Siemens PLM Software. NX is widely used in the engineering industry, especially in the automotive and aerospace sectors. NX is commonly referred to as a 3D PLM software application. The product supports all stages of product development from conceptualization (CAID), to design (CAD), to analysis (CAE), to manufacturing (CAM). NX integrates these product lifecycle stages into an end-to-end process using concurrent engineering workflow, design-in-context and product data management tools that apply across all functional areas.

CATIA: (Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application) is a multi-platform CAD/CAM/CAE commercial software suite developed by the French company Dassault Systemes and marketed worldwide by IBM. Written in the C++ programming language. Commonly referred to as a 3D Product Lifecycle Management software suite, CATIA supports multiple stages of product development (CAx), from conceptualization, design (CAD), manufacturing (CAM), and analysis (CAE). CATIA is widely used throughout the engineering industry, especially in the automotive and aerospace sectors.


Solid Edge: a 3D CAD parametric feature solid modeling software. It runs on Microsoft Windows and provides solid modeling, assembly modelling and drafting functionality for mechanical engineers. Through third party applications it has links to many other Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) technologies. Unlike other direct modeling systems, it is not driven by the typical history-based modeling system, instead providing parametric dimension-driven modeling by synchronizing geometry, parameters and rules using a decision-making engine, allowing users to apply unpredicted changes.


SolidWorks: a parasolid-based solid modeler, and utilizes a parametric feature-based approach to create models and assemblies. Parameters refer to constraints whose values determine the shape or geometry of the model or assembly. Parameters can be either numeric parameters, such as line lengths or circle diameters, or geometric parameters, such as tangent, parallel, concentric, horizontal or vertical, etc. Numeric parameters can be associated with each other through the use of relations, which allows them to capture design intent. The SolidWorks core product includes tools for 3D modeling, assembly, drawing, sheetmetal, weldments, and freeform surfacing. It can import numerous file types from other 2D and 3D CAD programs. It also has an API for custom programming in Visual Basic and C. Also included is an entry level finite element analysis program called SolidWorks SimulationXpress (formerly known as CosmosXpress).


Creo Elements/Pro: Integrated 3D CAD/CAM/CAE, parametric design capabilities allow product differentiation and manufacturability, integrated applications allow you to develop everything from concept to manufacturing within one application, Automatic propagation of design changes to all downstream deliverables, virtual simulation capabilities, automated generation of associative tooling design and manufacturing deliverables


T-FLEX: Mechanical 2D and 3D modeling functionality with parametric drafting and drawing production toolset. Parasolid based solid modeling, comprehensive set of integrated applications for for sale with T-FLEX Parametric CAD, including CAM, FEA and PDM. Written for 32 bit and 64 bit Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7 operating systems, distributed in various languages.


KOMPAS-3D: intended for creating three-dimensional associative models. Allows parametric modeling, translates geometry into design applications and control-program development kits for NC-controlled equipment. KOMPAS-3D supports IGES, SAT, XT, STEP, VRML formats.

Alibre Design Expert: provides a comprehensive set of precise 3D modeling, sheet metal design, and associative 2D drafting tools capable of creating complex, multi thousand part projects. Alibre CAM allows you to create toolpaths directly from your model inside Alibre Design. KeyShot for Alibre delivers photorealistic rendering to jazz up your website, brochure, or sales pitch.


Autodesk Inventor: a 3D parametric CAD CAM program for creating 3D mechanical models. Inventor software is a history-based parametric solid modeler. With Inventor, you create digital objects that simulate physical objects. Inventor models are accurate 3D digital prototypes. With the parametric modeling tools in Inventor, you can apply driving dimensions and geometric relationships to an object. These dimensions and relationships are called parameters. The size and shape or geometry of an object depends upon dimensions and relationships to other parts. When one part is changed, the object automatically updates to reflect the change.

Open Source EDA Software
XCircuit a UNIX/X11 (and Windows, if you have an X-Server running, or Windows API, if not) program for drawing publishable-quality electrical circuit schematic diagrams and related figures, and producing circuit netlists through schematic capture. XCircuit regards circuits as inherently hierarchical, and writes both hierarchical PostScript output and hierarchical SPICE netlists. Circuit components are saved in and retrieved from libraries which are fully editable. XCircuit does not separate artistic expression from circuit drawing; it maintains flexiblity in style without compromising the power of schematic capture. XCircuit is flexible enough to be used as a generic program for drawing just about anything, and is competitive with powerful programs such as "xfig". It is especially good for any task requiring repeated use of a standard set of graphical objects, including architectural drawing, printed circuit board layouts, an music typography.

Fritzing: an Open Source Electronic Design Automation software with a low entry barrier, suited for the needs of designers and artists. Fritzing uses the metaphor of the breadboard, so it is easy to transfer your hardware sketch to the software. From there it is possible to create PCB layouts.

gEDA Project: The gEDA project has produced and continues working on a full GPL'd suite and toolkit of Electronic Design Automation tools. These tools are used for electrical circuit design, schematic capture, simulation, prototyping, and production. Currently, the gEDA project offers a mature suite of free software applications for electronics design, including schematic capture, attribute management, bill of materials (BOM) generation, netlisting into over 20 netlist formats, analog and digital simulation, and printed circuit board (PCB) layout. The gEDA project was started because of the lack of free EDA tools for POSIX systems with the primary purpose of advancing the state of free hardware or open source hardware. The suite is mainly being developed on the GNU/Linux platform with some development effort going into making sure the tools run on other platforms as well.

TinyCAD: an open source schematic capture program for MS Windows. Use TinyCAD to produce professional circuit diagrams and export net list information to PCB applications.

Qucs: a work in progress on sourceforge, with the goals of allowing the user to to set up a circuit with a graphical user interface (GUI) and simulate the large-signal, small-signal and noise behavior of the circuit, then view the simulation results in a presentation window


KiCAD: I've saw KiCAD on a list of open source EDA software, but their sourceforge page was down when I checked.


**Note **
I stole descriptions of these software packages nearly verbatim from their respective websites, with attention toward capturing relevant details while screening out marketing fluff..  I hope this list provides you with some good leads and helps you quickly ID the software that is most worth your time to learn more about...without too many n00b mistakes or heavy bias from product websites.
Use the price info here for swagging purposes...It was probably accurate when I posted it, but sometimes the internet lies.

2 comments:

  1. The actual software is quite easy to learn, there are a few simple commands on each programme that will let you draw lines and circles. The skill comes of course with drawing in a structured way and making the drawing tidy and clear.. . I think that you can learn it ina couple of days work and moderate computer skills. Easier if you know in your mind what you want to draw - so easier if you are the designer.. . The industry standard package is AutoCAD but that is quite expensive and there are cheaper packages that do the same thing.

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