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Cheap CAD Recommendations


Jul 21, 2021
Hey guys,

I work for a small family owned job shop. We virtually never do any of our own drafting/print making because all of our work is from other customers.

However we have run into a scenario where we need to make a few prints.

I do all of our programming using Gibbscam which isn't very friendly for making 2D prints.

Do you guys have any recommendations on any cheap or free 2D wireframe CAD software that we could draft up a few quick prints with? My bosses aren't afraid to spend the money if need be, but I was hoping to save them a little bit of cash since the software most likely wouldn't be used often.

Thank you in advance!
The free version of 2D Solid Edge is the best you can get.

I think the 2D Solid Edge download has been pulled from the site. All the functionality has been rolled into the 3D version, draft mode I think, which can be downloaded for free in a Student / Hobby (maker) version. Allegedly the only difference between the free-bee version and the full monty is file format and CAM integration. The full version won't open free version files.

Its powerful, dauntingly so to me, been meaning to learn it for some time but ....

It never appears on any list, but Tritools Visual CADD is excellent. Price is $460, but I think there's a discount if you can show ownership of other cad programs. The program is actually an evolution of the old Generic CADD that's been continuously updated for Windows. I've always preferred it to Autocad.

FWIW you can also get Dassault's DraftSight 2d for $249/yr.
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There's FreeCAD. For blueprints, their latest versions have a completely reworked "TechDraw" workbench which has a little bit clunkier feel than something like Fusion360, but since Autodesk gimped the draw tools in their latest updates, it's the only "free" option for me.

Another vote for (free) SolidEdge 2D CAD.

SolidEdge is very powerful, including dimensioning...and with it you can create professional blueprints easily (once you learn it, of course).

There's also ProgeCAD. I believe it's around $500 for a perpetual license. It used to be free years ago, and I recall it was an Autocad clone. I haven't seen it recently so I can't say how it is now, but it might be worth considering.

Anything "Free" is worth every nickle, IMO.
I use PowerStation. Affordable, very capable, and when you use the CAM portion you get to write your own posts.
Like Dan B already mentioned ProgeCAD, I would also recommend it. If you know how to use AutoCAD then you know ProgeCad as well. It uses native dwg format too.
I've used ViaCAD in the past. It's plenty for hobby level.

No one uses TurboCAD? I thought that was the go-to for entry level back in the day.
I've used ViaCAD in the past. It's plenty for hobby level.

No one uses TurboCAD? I thought that was the go-to for entry level back in the day.
I use via cad pro- has a lot more than hobby level abilities. It’s downfall is no add ons like rhino or solidworks, but modeling is dare say superior. It came from skunkworks and is used at virgin galactic/mothership 1, it excels at complex surfaces.
Making lines and simple things, not as much. No command line.

I used to use shark, the one up from pro- worth it if you are doing areo parts or sail boats. Not for everyday work.

Last I checked the basic 2/3 d was cheap enough. Not sure of files supported. It does not have the mesh to nurb tools or the g surfacing functions, or constraints- property attributes and all the twist and bend controls. And no step file.
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