RMS says we need free CAD


If you could have one proprietary package/software released as Free Software, which would it be and why?

RMS: I have not made an effort to study the possible candidates, since unless a genie offers me a wish of that kind, the results wouldn’t enable me do anything constructive. Thus, I can only respond based on the few proprietary programs I happen by chance to know about.

Of the programs I know of, I think freeing Autocad would give the biggest boost to the free software community. It is used in a wide range of activities, and our CAD software lags quite a bit,

Join 7,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython in 2018 – Python on Microcontrollers is here!

Have an amazing project to share? Join the SHOW-AND-TELL every Wednesday night at 7:30pm ET on Google+ Hangouts.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more https://www.instagram.com/adafruit/

Maker Business — American startups are having an increasingly smaller share of the market

Wearables — Switch the advantage

Electronics — Don’t float!

Biohacking — Optimizing the Warm Up

Python for Microcontrollers — CircuitPython 3.0.0 released!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !


  1. Well I like Kicad a Free and open source Electronic design automation software with video tutorials and better than eagle in my opinion. I tried eagle and made a board with it.

    Mechanical CAD Google sketchup free but not open source…
    blender3d.com some used it for 3d modeling for hardware but not as good as others…
    BRL-CAD great free and open source but a little difficult but solid modeling…
    There are some script based things…

    FPGA Graphical design of digital circuits and simulation I was told about last night the site looks good and is easly installed in ubuntu.

  2. You can do a lot with Sketchup, and it’s not difficult to learn.

  3. If freeing a professional CAD package were an option, I’d vote for Inventor. And the free version of Sketchup is nice, but still leaves a lot to be desired. Manipulating objects in 3D using Inventor is intuitive, working with Sketchup can be quite painful.

  4. These are pretty high end packages:

    BRL-Cad – http://brlcad.org/

    Blender – http://www.blender.org/

  5. I keep hearing that Sketchup or Blender are “good” MCAD packages. Is there some F/OS plugin that I’m missing to parametric modeling in these? I’ve been using ProE and NX for a while so trying to make models without being able to define a minimum set of dimensions and have the tool work out the rest seems to be way too much work for me (it takes forever to make any model, and even longer to change things). Also I’ve not seen a 2D-with-dimensions output mode for either of them which is essential for when you want to fire up the Bridgeport and actually build something.

  6. Try OpenSCAD (http://openscad.org/). It is like programming a 3D object.

  7. @Adam, no you are not missing anything. SketchUp simply does not have very good dimensioning capabilities — that is one of the things which drives me nuts about it too. You can get precise dimensions by entering them during drawing, but it’s kind of a pain.

    I came form a SolidWorks, and though I love the openness of SU, I really hate that lack of precision.

  8. Solidworks has just released a free 2D program similar to Autocad called Draftsight. Get it here:

  9. HeeksCAD is built on OpenCascade with a solidworks-ish look/feel:

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.