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To Buy or to not to Buy

AutoCAD Free Download – Is There a Free Version?

Picture of Max von Übel
by Max von Übel
Feb 15, 2018

Looking for "AutoCAD free download" and don't want to commit to buy the popular CAD software? Here are the best answers to the question: Is there a free version?

The correct answer to this question would be “Yes, but …” or “No, but …” depending on your point of view.

AutoCAD is a commercial software for 2D and 3D computer-aided design (CAD). It is considered by many as the granddaddy of CAD software. The desktop application is available since 1982; in addition, a mobile app came out in 2010.

Moreover, AutoCAD’s wide array of features makes it a versatile tool. It is used across a wide range of industries: architecture, engineering, graphic design, management, and others.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that AutoCAD is not free. Luckily (here’s the but), there is are AutoCAD free trial versions for you to test before you buy it, and the slimmed down AutoCAD LT. Just in case the price tag is out of your budget, check out the best free AutoCAD alternatives.

AutoCAD Free Trial Versions & AutoCAD LT

AutoCAD Free Trial Versions & AutoCAD LT Full Version

Image of AutoCAD Free Trial Versions & AutoCAD LT: Full Version

First of all, any interested user can get a one-month Autodesk free trial version from Autodesk’s website.

  2. Select your operating system. Then, click NEXT.
  3. Read the system requirements notice. Click NEXT.
  4. Choose “Individual or Business User” from the list. Choose your language. And click NEXT.
  5. Enter your personal information to create an Autodesk account. Alternatively, sign in to your existing Autodesk account.
  6. Enter your business information. And click NEXT.
  7. Read the Trial Notice and click BEGIN DOWNLOAD.
  8. Install, and start using the free trial.

AutoCAD Free Trial Versions & AutoCAD LT Educational Version

Image of AutoCAD Free Trial Versions & AutoCAD LT: Educational Version

Second, Autodesk offers a free educational version that runs on up to two personal devices for 3 years. It is meant for students and educational purposes.

  1. Go to the Autodesk Education Community.
  2. Choose AutoCAD.
  3. Create an Autodesk account. Alternatively, sign in to your existing Autodesk account.
  4. Then, click DOWNLOAD NOW.
  5. Select the desired version, your operating system, and your preferred language.
  6. The displayed serial number and product key are sent to your email address. And click BROWSER DOWNLOAD.
  7. Next, install the free version.
  8. When installing the CAD software, enter the serial number, and product key to unlock it.
  9. When you start the program the first time, activate the license.

AutoCAD Free Trial Versions & AutoCAD LT AutoCAD LT

Image of AutoCAD Free Trial Versions & AutoCAD LT: AutoCAD LT

But what if you’re in a pickle: You liked the AutoCAD free trial and find out that you need AutoCAD, but there is no way you can afford it?

In this case, Autodesk offers a slimmed down version, AutoCAD LT, that “only” costs $380 per year. Of course, you can’t expect the same feature set as in the regular AutoCAD version. The biggest difference is that the light version doesn’t support 3D modeling and visualization.

View this table to find out if it does the job for you.

AutoCAD Free Trial Versions & AutoCAD LT AutoCAD 360 App

Image of AutoCAD Free Trial Versions & AutoCAD LT: AutoCAD 360 App

Are you a smartphone jockey? Then you should take a look at AutoCAD 360. It’s a free AutoCAD version. And for a smartphone app, it’s quite capable.

The free AutoCAD 360 app is definitely more than a viewer. You can open and view DWG files, make accurate measurements and view coordinates, zoom and pan around drawings, store them in the cloud and share designs with colleagues and collaborators.

If you are willing to pay $5 a month, you get the Pro version. It offers a greater level of functionality and lets you draw, edit, move and scale objects.

But both paid and free AutoCAD 360 version lack some of the features of AutoCAD.

AutoCAD Free Download Available Features

Image of AutoCAD Free Download: Available Features

Available since 1982, AutoCAD is the most mature and stable CAD software on the market. As can be expected from a cutting-edge CAD program, this CAD software brings supports parametric modeling. Simply put, this enables users to make substantial changes to their designs by applying rules, or constraints, that govern their structure. Whenever the numerical value of such a constraint is changed, the entire design is modified.

Most noteworthy, a new feature in the 2018 release is the ability to import low-quality PDFs into AutoCAD and convert them into CAD lines. Moreover, the free mobile app brings CAD productivity to mobile devices which eliminates the need to print out drawings when visiting clients. As most products by Autodesk, this CAD software is connected to Print Studio, allowing you ease of access to your 3D printer.

Please note that the feature set of Windows and Mac versions differ somewhat before acquiring the AutoCAD free trial or paid version. To learn more take a look at this table on Autodesk’s website.

Don’t miss: AutoCAD Tutorial 2018 - 6 Easy Steps for Beginners

AutoCAD Free Trial Versions and AutoCAD LT How to Get Started

Image of AutoCAD Free Trial Versions and AutoCAD LT: How to Get Started

If you want to use your (partially) free AutoCAD software, you should first get to know how the basic commands. Fortunately, Autodesk offers a bunch of interesting and valuable courses. This also applies to the free AutoCAD variants. Here are four short courses to get used the software:

  1. Review the basic AutoCAD controls (go here)
  2. Change the draw order of images and other objects (more info here)
  3. Ensure the precision required for your models (start here)
  4. Create geometric objects such as lines, circles, and hatched areas (again, start here)

After that, you should be able to attend the “Autodesk University“. There you’ll find free AutoCAD courses.

Free AutoCAD Alternatives

If the $1,470 /year price tag is out of your range, there are a number of free solutions that offer comparable features. Most notable among them are FreeCAD, OnShape, and nanoCAD.

To learn more about free CAD software, check out our article, 30 Best Free CAD Software Tools (Free 2D/3D CAD Programs)

However, if these programs simply don’t cut it for you, consider these free or commercial alternatives to AutoCAD: 26 Best 3D Design/3D Modeling Software Tools (12 are Free)


Free AutoCAD Alternatives FreeCAD

Image of Free AutoCAD Alternatives: FreeCAD

One of the best free alternatives to AutoCAD for sure. FreeCAD is an open-source and highly extensible free 3D CAD software. Its range of features can even stand comparison with commercial software like Autodesk’s program, since it offers full parametric modeling.

Due to the modular architecture, FreeCAD is invaluable in many engineering and architecture workflows. For example, it lets you perform sophisticated simulations such as self-weight analysis.

It may not have the same polished user experience as the commercial or free AutoCAD version. But once you‘re used to it, you’ll get the designing jobs done very quickly.

Don’t miss: FreeCAD Tutorial for 3D Printing


Free AutoCAD Alternatives OnShape

Image of Free AutoCAD Alternatives: OnShape

Looking for a great free AutoCAD alternative? Look no further.

OnShape is an engineering grade CAD software made by former SolidWorks developers. The program seeks to integrate the entire engineering workflow into one tool. Moreover, its comprehensive feature set lends you the full might of parametric modeling and the option to simulate assemblies of complex many part designs.

Another strength lies in OnShape’s collaborative capabilities. This CAD software is available as a cloud service. Finally, you can work on up to ten projects simultaneously for free.


Free AutoCAD Alternatives nanoCAD

Image of Free AutoCAD Alternatives: nanoCAD

Finally, nanoCAD is another free AutoCAD alternative. So, if you are familiar with the one, switching to the other won’t be a problem. It supports parametric modeling. As a result, you can revisit older designs without having to convert the 3D models, and adapt them to new tasks in no time.

The program is uncluttered, making it suitable for hobbyists, and beginners. Nevertheless, users have a rich feature set at their disposal. It has a familiar interface, powerful drafting and design tools, native DWG compatibility, and an open API. And it’s totally free to use and share. In addition, this free AutoCAD alternative can be extended by various plugins.

If you want to drill down deeper, there’s the commercial version “nanoCAD Plus” for $180. Much more reasonable than paying $1500 after your free AutoCAD version has expired…

License: The text of "AutoCAD Free Download – Is There a Free Version?" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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