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6 Best Free 2D CAD Drawing Software For Technical Drawing

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With a free drawing program, you too can create detailed technical 2D drawings or engineering sketches.

Expensive CAD drawing software is not always necessary.

Whether you’re a mechanical engineer, technical draftsman, electrical engineer, model maker, or even a do-it-yourselfer:

These following 6 programs will allow you to create professional looking technical documentation:

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Place 1: SketchUP

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Using SketchUp, you can create drawings online quite easily.

At https://www.sketchup.com/ you can create a free account for Sketchup.

In detail, both 2D and 3D modeling is possible with this freeware CAD program

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For my feeling, the operation is very simple and the user interface is designed very intuitively.

Create cross sections in 2D and extrude 2D cross sections so you get 3D solids. Also, you can work in different layers and assign different textures and materials to your bodies or elements.

Further, navigation in space and orientation works very smoothly. You do it like in professional 3D CAD programs using mouse and keyboard.

In addition, dimensioning of the elements is possible directly. You can use the dimension tool to directly select the edges and vertices you want. Of course, you can move dimensions with guides and place them at your desired location.

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All in all, I think SketchUp is a very successful free CAD program.

Place 2: FreeCAD

The CAD program FreeCAD is free to download and can be installed on all major platforms. Thus, this free drawing software is suitable for users with Mac, as well as for Windows or Linux users.

The FreeCAD design software comes with modern user interface and is a versatile 3D and 2D drawing program.

With the help of FreeCAD you can quite easily create technical drawings with all the usual features such as dimensions, fits, tolerances and surface specifications.

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Furthermore, with FreeCAD you can not only create 3D models and 2D drawings derived from them. In addition, you can even perform full FEM simulations in both 2D and 3D!

In my eyes, FreeCAD is comparatively easy to use.

Place 3: Draw.io – create technical sketches online

With the help of the free web application Draw.io you can easily create technical sketches in your web browser without any installation

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Draw.io is not only suitable for mechanical engineers, but also for architects, electronic engineers and computer scientists, for example.

Draw.io is not only suitable for mechanical engineers, but also for architects, electronic engineers and computer scientists, for example.

Draw.io is not only suitable for mechanical engineers, but also for architects, electronic engineers and computer scientists, for example.

Draw.io is not only suitable for mechanical engineers, but also for architects, electronic engineers and computer scientists, for example.

Draw.io is not only suitable for mechanical engineers, but also for architects, electronic engineers and computer scientists, for example.

Create technical sketches with Draw.io
Create technical sketches with Draw.io

In addition to standard symbols and blocks such as arrows, rectangles and shapes, there are specific technical symbols to choose from for many disciplines. You can drag and drop the pre-made symbols from the left pane into your sketch window to complete a full diagram.

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Furthermore, Draw.io not only allows you to save your project to a web drive (Dropbox / Google Drive / …), but also to download it afterwards via PDF.

Last but not least, the user interface of this drawing program is available in many different languages and thus of course also in German.

Place 4: TurboCAD 2D

TurboCAD 2D from www.TurboCAD.de is a popular 2D design and drafting program. At this link, one of the older full versions is permanently available for free download –  at the time of writing, it is version TurboCAD 2D V.21.

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After free registration by e-mail on the homepage of TurboCAD you will receive the license key and download link (about 250 MB) by e-mail.

Thanks to a variety of tools you can give free rein to your creativity. Create component drawings, blueprints, assembly drawings, patent sketches, or apartment plans and floor plans.

Patent drawing created with TurboCAD
TurboCAD user interface

You can select basic geometric shapes such as freehand curves, lines, polylines, rectangles, arcs, circles, or ellipses directly from the toolbar and create them in the drawing area.

In addition, thanks to the many settings options, you can change pen thicknesses, colors and hatchings. In addition, of course, you can add dimensions, labels, and notes.

In sum, quite a bit is already possible with the free TurboCAD 2D version.

Drawing program TurboCAD - assembly drawing
TurboCAD – assembly drawing

This allows you to use TurboCAD to create the following, among other things:

  • Assembly drawings
  • Individual part drawings
  • Assembly drawings
  • Patent drawings
  • Construction sketches
  • Floor plans and house plans
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The only drawback to the free version is that your projects can only be read and saved in TurboCAD’s own format (.tcw / .tct).

Place 5: QCAD

You can download the 2D CAD drawing program QCAD for free from the official homepage https://qcad.org. In addition to the standard installation, a demo version of the paid professional version is also installed, but you can simply uninstall it again separately.

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QCAD is a pure 2D open source drawing and sketching program. Although it takes a little practice to use, you can use QCAD to create engineering drawings to scale.

Flange drawn in QCAD
Technical drawing with QCAD

With QCAD you can create construction elements on different levels. In addition to the selection of basic shapes, direct dimensioning and hatching of the elements is also possible.

Place 6: LibreCAD

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LibreCAD can be found for free download at http://librecad.org.

With LibreCAD you can import .dwg and .dxf data. In addition, export to DXF, SVG, PDF is possible without any problems. As with most other 2D drawing programs, there are a variety of basic shapes you can use for your drawing.

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Drawing Flange in LibreCAD
LibreCAD

Dimensioning your technical elements is also possible directly. In my eyes, however, LibreCAD’s user interface needs a little training time.

2D & 3D CAD Freeware for Students & Pupils

In the following you will find more 2D & 3D CAD programs, but they are only free with restrictions.

Examples of restrictions:

  • Student and Pupil License
  • Small Business (small, measured by revenue)
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Place 1: Autodesk AutoCAD

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AutoCADis one of the leading programs in the engineering industry.

With AutoCAD you create, for example, patent drawings, architectural plans, 2D/3D designs, component sketches, blueprints and drawings.

If you are a student, you can download the free version here.

Place 2: Autodesk Fusion 360

For hobbyists, students and small businesses, the 3D program Autodesk Fusion 360 is available for free download. “Small” is defined as businesses with revenues up to $100,000.

With Autodesk Fusion 360, you can design both individual components and complete functional assemblies. Fusion 360 is not a hobby program but contains the full range of functions as professional 3D design software.

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Of course, that’s why you can create your own drawings in Fusion 360 or even calculate the strength of parts. For me, clearly Autodesk Fusion 360 has one of the most comprehensive features combined with a modern user interface.

Bike designed in Autodesk Fusion 360
graphic Badari Hiriyur / Autodesk / CC BY 2.5

level 3: Autodesk Inventor

Also from the software company Autodesk comes the Autodesk Inventor program.

Autodesk Inventor is a well-established and proven design program that was launched over 20 years ago and has undergone continuous development.

Here is a short video that shows the capabilities of Autodesk Inventor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXhu5semeOk

While Autodesk Fusion 360 enables modern, flexible, and collaborative work via cloud servers, Inventor is the professional desktop alternative.

Autodesk Inventor is also available for free to students.

Technical drawing programs – The summary

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The right choice of 2D drawing program also always depends on the specific application.

If you want to create simple 3D CAD models and technical drawings, I would recommend starting with SketchUP and FreeCAD.

However, if you want to make flowcharts, technical sketches or functional drawings and hydraulic schematics, then Draw.io might be your tool of choice.

If you’re a student or entrepreneur under the $100,000 revenue threshold, then you should definitely check out Autodesk Fusion 360.

If you have a MAC, you should also check out my list on free CAD programs for MAC.

And if you know of any other good programs or have your own experiences with the drawing programs shown, feel free to post a quick comment right away.

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