List of cheaper alternatives to AutoCAD and SolidWorks

Recently one of my tasks was to obtain quotes to purchase AutoCAD and Solidworks for a friend’s company whose main business was machine fabrication.

After contacting several vendors to obtain the respective quotes, I was quite shocked to find out that the pricing for both AutoCAD and Solidworks was quite high.

I got to find out that this software is the starting point for many products all around us. Even the mouse that is right beside us now (screenshot), was initially designed using a CAD software. Most CAD software today is capable of designing 3D models or 2D drawings. But does this software need to cost so much?

If your organization needs to create 2D or 3D models but does not have the right budget yet, the following is a list of cheaper alternatives to AutoCAD and SolidWorks.


ZWCAD software, as a highly reliable and powerful CAD tool, meets the needs of 2D/3D design & drafting industry, including architecture, engineering, construction (AEC), mechanics, electronics and anyone who creates CAD drawings.


QCAD is an application for computer aided drafting in two dimensions (2d). With QCAD you can create technical drawings such as plans for buildings, interiors, mechanical parts or schemas and diagrams. QCAD works on Windows, Mac OS X and many Linux and Unix Systems.


AllyCAD is a professional CAD package with advanced functionality and integrated Toolkits. AllyCAD is renowned for its power and ease of use in the Mechanical, Civil, Structural, Architectural and Surveying fields.


AutoQ3D CAD is an award-winnning 3D Design and Draft tool which enables you to draw 3D models easily. Many aspects, including its ease-of-use and clean design, have made AutoQ3D one of the most popular 3D Design and Draft tool software available.


CoCreate Modeling Personal Edition (PE) is the world’s first free explicit 3D CAD software. With CoCreate Modeling PE, you work directly on the geometry you want to modify and design your models without investing in upfront engineering. CoCreate Modeling PE puts the extraordinary power of explicit modeling into the hands of any engineer, designer, or student


CADopia 6, based on IntelliCAD technology, is a powerful CAD software that is used by professionals in over 80 countries to create mission critical drawings in a cost effective manner. You don’t have to learn a brand new interface if you are familiar with the Windows environment and other popular CAD systems.


ProgeSoft’s main product which is the progeCAD 2010 Professional is a 2D / 3D CAD application which is compatible with AutoCAD files. It’s user interface is quite similar to AutoCAD environment and it’s price is lower.

So there you go, some cheaper alternatives to AutoCAD and SolidWorks for you to try out.

About the author

Hello there! My name is Bob Lee, and I have honed my skills as a web developer and technical wordsmith, focusing on the creation and evaluation of web applications.

For more than ten years, I’ve navigated through various roles such as an entrepreneur, blogger, developer, and tech enthusiast, thoroughly enjoying each experience.

To manage time effectively, I rely on Sanebox, to intelligently organize my inbox, bringing sanity to my email management process.


  • ViaCAD V6 is another alternative to the higher priced CADs. ViaCAD is very similar in function to SolidWorks, does true solid modeling, is very intuitive and is extremely easy to learn. It is also compatible with many other CAD formats and file types. This program usually retails for less than $100 per license.

    Another honorable mention is TurboCAD. While not quite as functionable, inexpensive, or easy to use as ViaCAD, TurboCAD Deluxe – normally $149 or less – has enough to offer so that most home users and many small businesses will be well equipped. TurboCAD Pro is much more expensive than Deluxe, but it offers true solid modeling, much more functionality and enough features to satisfy even the most demanding of engineers.

  • Although it’s easy to stare blind on the end price of the CAD package, you should never forgot about the learning curves of 3D CAD in your company and the time it takes to break even again. In general you would see in the first couple of months a lower productivity rate from your employers, which will later be in a increased productivity.

    In general where you see tremendous productivity increments where you make a lot of the same sort parts, but sizes vary. You can then teach your CAD tool the constrains of a part and generate a ‘new’ part in minutes.

    If you do a lot of one-offs without prototyping, the advantage of 3D CAD is much less, but still there compared to doing the same in 2D CAD.

    On average, 3D CAD makes it’s investment back in about a year for companies that makes assemblies with a reasonable (>100) number of parts.

    I can highly advice for any 3D CAD is to get the training done, this will help introducing the new package much easer.

    In reality most companies can afford to buy a 8K USD package per person and still make money after about 1 year.

    With a sub 1000USD package you will need to see how compatible it is with the rest of the industry and if you can get proper support and training on-site.


  • Old site, not up to date, only 1 Linux “cad” package, Blender is NOT CAD (it is artsy illustration/cartoon stuff). Previously tested most of these, all failed for professional use.

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