Check out our 2019 guide to the best free online CAD software tools available right now for online 3D modeling. Some can be upgraded to add even more features.
When learning how to use CAD software, there are a number of obstacles to hurdle in order to actualize your 3D ideas on the expansive digital workspace. This includes the steep learning curve that comes with mastering CAD software, the commitment of time, and sometimes the cost of the software itself.
Thankfully, you can find a variety of free online CAD software tools if you know where to look. Free online CAD software tools enable users to conduct even sophisticated engineering projects, oftentimes from within a standard web browser.
There are many benefits to using free online CAD software tools. The most obvious advantage is that no commitment or cash is required to get started. There’s also no need to install large programs that eat away at your disk space.
In addition, many of the more advanced free online CAD software tools showcased here are scalable, meaning that you can buy additional cloud storage, access for more collaborators or an extended feature-set when the need arises. This is a major advantage especially for small businesses that are forced to calculate on a lean budget.
We’ve broken this list down into three sections to help you find exactly what you’re looking for:
|Name||Level||Price (USD)||CAD Type|
|3D Slash||Beginner||Free, Premium from $2/month||3D|
|Clara.io||Intermediate||Free, Premium from $10/month||3D|
|SelfCAD||Intermediate||Free (Students), $15/month||3D|
|Vectary||Intermediate||Free, Premium from $19/month||2D/3D|
|Fusion 360||Professional||Free (Students), Regular $495/year||2D/3D|
|OnShape||Professional||Free (Students), Regular from $1,500/year||3D|
Looking for online CAD software with a twist? In 3D Slash, you will not encounter run-off-the-mill 3D modeling tools like extrusion, revolution or sweeps. Instead, this free online CAD software tool is centered around the cuboid, a solid block that can be subdivided into smaller blocks of identical size. Just think of Minecraft, and you’ll get the idea.
In the same vein, users of 3D Slash create their 3D designs by working the cuboid with an array of tools that will not be familiar with most other free online CAD software tools: hammer, trowel, chisel, pulpwood, and drill. Thus, you use the hammer tool to remove individual cubes, while the trowel adds cubes and so forth.
Creating 3D designs with these tools is a piece of cake – even for beginners! With only a little training you can achieve impressive results, like a lightsaber (see our tutorial below). Also, you can import, and modify existing 3D designs. For your convenience, this free online CAD software tool ties in with a range of online printing services and model repositories. Or you can simply export your 3D design to STL, and print it on your 3D desktop printer.
The playful, hands-on approach will be especially gratifying for hobbyists who want to create their 3D designs without having to master the mysterious lore of more conventional free online CAD software tool.
Apart from the browser-based version, this free online CAD software tool is also available as a desktop app for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Raspberry Pi.
3D Slash Review: 3D Slash Review: 3D Modeling Made Super Easy
3D Slash Tutorial for Beginners: 3D Slash Tutorial for Beginners: How to Use 3D Slash
Best Free Online CAD Software Tool for: Hobbyists with an eye on quick results.
In a time when we expect software to intuitively anticipate our actions, the concept of writing 3D objects as code in OpenSCAD exerts a fascinating approach to CAD. Because of its seemingly arcane and idiosyncratic approach to 3D modeling, this free CAD software tool remains steeped in mystery to many who would like to learn OpenSCAD.
BlocksCAD is a free online CAD software tool that was developed to ease kids into the craft of 3D modeling but without forcing them to learn OpenSCAD. This means that with this program, anyone should be able to work with OpenSCAD. The commands denoting objects, transformations etc. are represented by colorful blocks that are stacked together like LEGO-bricks. Once you are satisfied with your work, you render the 3D model to inspect it. The finished design can be saved as OpenSCAD or STL format.
Don’t get us wrong, it is still not a trivial matter to model with BlocksCAD. To create a flower pot, for example, you’ll have to create two cylinders of different diameters and then link them with a subtract transformation. In other words, this free online CAD software tool cannot read your mind. It still expects you combine the code blocks in a sensible way. However, with only basic knowledge of the language, this program allows you to create valid OpenSCAD code. This is because BlocksCAD knows which code blocks are compatible with each other. Along the way, you can easily gain a grasp on OpenSCAD, as you can display the bare code and understand how the changes in your blocks affect the 3D model and the code.
Best Free Online CAD Software Tool for: Kids who want to start 3D modeling – and everyone else who can’t wrap his head around OpenSCAD.
Do you want to model animals or even human beings? Then, traditional free online CAD software tools likely won’t do the trick. However, there is an alternative approach to traditional 3D modeling called 3D sculpting. Whereas some commercial options on the market have pretty steep learning curves, the free online CAD software tool SculptGL is easier to get accustomed to. It includes the basic tools necessary and allows you to give you a sense of the sculpting workflow. But the best thing is, you can enjoy all of this in the comfort of your web browser!
As with more advanced sculpting tools, the main concept is that you don’t try to create a high-resolution mesh right from the start. Instead, you build up the levels of details step by step. The groundwork is always to define the silhouette (arms, heads, limbs) in very broad brushes. From there you can switch to smaller brushes, and sculpt large details, pronounced muscles, fingers, and the like. Only then should you add intricate details like wrinkles or scars using finer brushes.
This being a free online CAD software tool, the number and complexity of objects that you can create are limited to the minimum. For anyone just curious about 3D sculpting, SculptGL is a great opportunity. If you want to level up, you should give another free 3D sculpting tool available for download a try, Sculptris.
Best Free Online CAD Software Tool for: Beginners who want to dabble in 3D sculpting.
Made by industry leading software company AutoDesk, TinkerCAD is an incredibly user-friendly and beginner-level 3D modeling tool. Truth be told, TinkerCAD is not the most powerful free online CAD software tool on this list. However, it does offers a surprising level of functionality that will suit anyone from first-timers, to even the most advanced of CAD users just looking for a quick and easy way to throw a simple design together.
TinkerCAD’s visual interface is designed to let you operate in a “building block” mode. So if you want to make a cube, you drag-and-drop the cube, put in your measurements, and you’re done.
This free online CAD software tool is very much a “what you see is what you get” tool. There are also many pre-built designs to choose from that you can modify to suit your needs. While it won’t offer much in the way of an artistic modeling functionality, it completely makes up for that by offering a very straightforward user-friendly approach to barebones 3D design. TinkerCAD also has a very dedicated community around it allowing users to see the potential of this basic, entirely cloud-based free online CAD software tool.
Best Free Online CAD Software Tool for: Beginners and hobbyists who want to create 3D designs hassle-free.
Smoothie 3D is a free online modeling tool that will assist artists and designers in the creative process. You need to register to begin modeling, but once that’s done, it is very simple and intuitive to use. Objects can be imported as OBJ or STL files. Once completed, your design can be exported to Sketchfab, Shapeways, i.materialise, 3DHubs, or it can be exported as an OBJ, STL or VRML 2 file.
The 3D models are created with several primitive shapes, such as cubes, spheres, cylinder, cones, and text, which can also be scaled to your liking. To create them, just click on the related item or check their tutorial for a more thorough walkthrough. More interesting or complex shapes can be achieved by applying strokes to the model. Additional features include translation and rotation in the three axes and combinations of symmetry operations.
Perhaps the coolest feature, however, is the ability to create a 3D object over a 2D image. You can import a picture or an image, create simple geometries over the 2D object, and rotate it to see the newly created 3D object. Stretch or expand your sketches to achieve a more realistic look.
Best Free Online CAD Software Tool for: Beginners that need to give transform 2D pictures into the third dimension.
Edges.io is an online modeling tool that is extremely multi-faceted, offering a number of innovative features within the confines of a free platform. You can start modeling with it right away without registering, but once you try to export your files you will have to signup or login with your Google account.
Several tools are available, such as modeling, painting, ringing and animating your models. For beginners, short how-to videos are available on the modeling site, in addition to two brief tutorials on YouTube.
The benefits of this software are plentiful. It has a simple modeling process with an intuitive interface, basic box modeling capabilities, smoothing and subdivision, point and click rigging, easy animations, and direct sharing online.
However, keep in mind that Edges.io might be too simple for professional or medium users. It’s definitely a good starting point for absolute beginners and entry-level designers.
Best Free Online CAD Software Tool for: Beginners that want a simple starting point for CAD, as well as those whose designs are suitable for basic geometric shapes.
Imagine having access to a free CAD software tool that can be used anywhere, at any time. Allow us to introduce you to 3dc.io, a free platofrm that’s available for iOS, Android, and for the web. 3DC is a modeling platform that is primarily intended for educational purposes.
3DC’s main pillar is that anyone can easily get involved in 3D modeling, with every design being 3D printable. Additionally, files can be shared across various platforms and viewed on any device. As for its educational aims, 3DC aspires for smart learning and the use of tablets and smartphones. It is built on the principle of immersive and creative design, with tangible learning outcomes. These processes are enhanced through the built-for-collaboration platform.
For simple modeling online, 3dc.io is an intuitive and free solution, in which basic geometric forms or imported models, as well as models created by other users, can be included in your own creation. For downloading or exporting the files, simply create a free account.
Best Free Online CAD Software Tool for: Beginners and educational purposes. It’s great when you need to have access to your designs from any device.
Clara.io is an impressively powerful browser-based free 3D CAD software. Like any desktop solution, it includes all the common modeling tools used in polygon modeling, such as extrusion, beveling, slicing, cutting, and looping. In terms of texture maps, you also get UV mapping. All in all, to essentially comes with pretty much everything you need for basic 3D modeling purposes.
But Clara.io goes beyond the functionality you would expect from the average free online CAD software tool. It includes V-Ray, which allows you to light your meshes using an HDR image and many other nifty tricks. And, since it’s equipped with basic keyframe animation, Clara.io is even a viable tool for computer animated movies.
One of the many useful features of this free online CAD software tool is collaboratively working on projects. Similarly to Google Docs, you can add other Clara.io users to the scene that can then modify the file. Every change made is automatically synced between the accounts, this means other users get to see the scene transforming before their eyes instantaneously. This allows for a truly collaborative experience.
The free version of Clara.io gives you 5GB cloud storage. The commercial options include more storage, unlimited private scene, and unlimited personal rendering. We have no doubt in our mind that this is one of the best free online CAD software tools for those who already have a bit of CAD experience.
Best Free Online CAD Software Tool for: Intermediate users working on ambitious and collaborative projects.
SelfCAD is the self-proclaimed “leader in online 3D modeling and slicing software”. Indeed, this free online CAD software tool packages the complete design-to-print workflow in one neatly presented bundle. At its core, SelfCAD features a robust 3D CAD application that allows for the design of complex and 3D printable objects.
Built around an intuitive GUI and offering TinkerCAD-level of simplicity, virtually anyone can dive in and start creating. You can also load in a flat image to serve as a template to your workings, so a reference is always at hand. In addition, this free online CAD software tool comes with a number of handy generators, so there is no need to model complex structures, like screws, nuts, and spirals from scratch.
But perhaps the defining proficiency of SelfCAD as a free online CAD software tool is its inherent ability to prepare models for 3D printing, even taking the job as far as slicing and piping the g-code directly to your computer. A host of predefined RepRap 3D printers are available from the drop-down menu, but you can also enter the specifications for any model that is not included.
Best Free Online CAD Software Tool for: 3D printing makers looking to get up to speed with 3D design in a quick and efficient manner.
By now, SketchUp has become a staple program in the field of 3D CAD. What immediately strikes first-time users of SketchUp is its neat and tidy interface. There are not too many buttons, something that can boggle beginners during the learning phases. And, thanks to the intuitive tools that allow for navigation and sculpting accurately in the 3D view, it is possible to create simple 3D printable models from scratch within the first few hours of learning.
The free online CAD software tool also includes drawing layout functionality, and allows surface rendering in a variety of “styles.” SketchUp comes with its exchange repository integrated into the program itself: 3D Warehouse – a library where approximately 2.2 million SketchUp models can be downloaded directly into the program.
Users of the Premium version of SketchUp (available for Windows and macOS) are able to add new features to the program by installing extensions – many of them free of charge – so there is virtually no limit to its potential capabilities. Also, the support of this free online CAD software tool for 3D printing is already impressive and growing every minute.
Best Free Online CAD Software Tool for: Advanced users looking for professional online CAD software.
Are you in need of a fresh take on CAD? Take a close look at Vectary. Just considering its innovative UI and approach to collaboration, this free online CAD software tool is definitely worth your attention. For instance, this free CAD software already includes parametric modeling, a feature that allows for quick adaptions of the mesh using sliders and selections that is mostly found in professional engineering suites like Fusion 360.
But, since the program doesn’t rely on precise measurements, this doesn’t make Vectary an ideal program for hardcore engineers. Instead, designs are created in a 3D viewport using subdivision modeling and then transformed using various tools, making this free online CAD software tool better equipped for the needs of designers. Also, Vectary emphasizes user collaboration as all models are saved in the cloud and can be easily shared. As the API is expected to be published in the future, the functionality can potentially be expanded using various plugins.
Although the range of features is amazing for a 3D modeling program that runs in the browser, this comes at a price. Don’t underestimate how much memory this free online CAD software tool takes up. Vectary’s free plan includes 10 private projects and unlimited public projects. Business options allow for a larger number of projects and various other perks.
Best Free Online CAD Software Tool for: Intermediate to advanced users who need to create quick reiterations of their designs.
Another beloved Autodesk product, Fusion 360 is an advanced CAD software tool that is free for students, educators, and academic institutions. This highly popular software encompasses the whole process of planning, testing and executing a 3D CAD design. To this end, users can harness powerful parametric tools and analytic mesh tools that are well-suited to most challenges in industrial design. Moreover, it is able to simulate both the construction of the components designed as well as the stresses they will face once they are put to their use.
Much like OnShape, all of your files in this free online CAD software tool are kept in cloud-based storage. This allows users to collaborate in large projects effortlessly. Fusion 360 supports cloud-based file sharing, version control and import/export of common CAD file types. Unlike most of the other free online CAD software tools on this list, the main component of Fusion 360 requires a locally installed app.
And, this goes without saying, but Fusion 360 also has excellent support for 3D printing. CAD files are directly imported into the Autodesk Printing Studio, which gently guides the user through the process of turning their model into a 3D printable file. Here you find the necessary tools to repair your mesh and a preview of the printing process. Beyond any doubt, Fusion 360 is one of the best free online CAD software tools on the market. We would recommend it to anyone who wants to dig deep and explore advanced CAD design.
Best Free Online CAD Software Tool for: Professionals and students with an eye for collaboration and simulation capabilities.
One of the most impressive items in this list in terms functionality is OnShape. Founded by two former Solidworks CEOs, Jon Hirschtick and John McEleney, OnShape offers a strong Solidworks competitor that is entirely cloud-based and free for students and educators.
How does this free online CAD software tool compare to its competitors? On this list, OnShape is arguably the most functional and portable of the options: It is the only one that has an Android and iOS app, allowing you to view and modify designs from your tablet or smartphone. OnShape also offers a lot of features that are similar to Fusion 360, such as simulations of multi-part assemblies. Recently, OnShape added a function called FeatureScript, which is a new open-source programming language for creating and customizing CAD features.
When it comes to engineering integration, OnShape is no slouch. It does a wonderful job at streamlining the entire engineering workflow from start to finish all in one entirely cloud-based model. There is a ton of customization options available which will appeal to many CAD users familiar with other programs like AutoCAD or Solidworks.
Apart from the browser version, this free online CAD software tool is also available as an app for Android and iOS.
Best Free Online CAD Software Tool for: Professionals who want a portable, yet powerful solution.
License: The text of "Best Free Online CAD Software Tools in 2019" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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