There is no doubt that AutoCAD is the main software when it comes to drawing a blueprint in the computer, but new tools have already come to the forefront to make the work of architects, designers, and engineers much easier.
Competing with the undisputed leader of the category is complicated, but not impossible. The new software programs are packed with innovative tools, run in different environments, are lighter and of course, offer the possibility to draw on 3D. Here are the 4 best programs of this type.
FreeCAD is a 3D parametric modeler that was initially created to design objects of any size. With an experience and interface similar to AutoCAD, it’s ideal for those who own Autodesk.
Among its competitive advantages -aside from an open source- are the fact that it’s cross-platform (Windows, Mac and Linux); it reads and writes in many formats (STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DXF, OBJ, IFC, and DAE among others) and as if that wasn’t enough, it does not require too much hard-drive space so it can be used on any type of computer. Another interesting characteristic is the great variety of tools it offers to assist in the design of mechanical elements, which has turned it into one of the favorites of mechanical and industrial engineers.
DraftSight is a vectors graphic design program that allows you to create, open, edit and save AutoCAD DWG files in 2D and work with some 3D elements. Besides, the program can open DXF (format used to convert and migrate projects from DWG to other CAD apps), PDF, and DWT files. This compatibility represents a big advantage for any architect or designer.
Its advantages? It offers tools similar to AutoCAD Lite (work with layers, include a drawing environment, works with a 3-axis coordinate system, allows the application of heights, etc.). It comes with several functions: chamfer, fillet, and trim, among others. This software can be faster and lighter than Autodesk, aside from being free. It has become one of the most used programs by draftsmen, designers, architects, and engineers. The program runs in Mac, Windows and Linux.
Dibac Professional CAD
With similar interface and functions than AutoCAD, this software was created to be compatible with AutoCAD and -according to the experts- to substitute the same with considerable advantages. It works with DWG files (the same as AutoCAD); comes with a plugin designed for SketchUp, which allows you to export 2D projects from this program, extruding them in 3D in just two clicks.
Additionally, it allows you to create 2D projects that can be converted in 3 dimensions and 8 functionalities that allows to draw a project in less time.
With a similar interface than AutoCAD, this 3D design software comes with several tools and useful characteristics, including 3D-OpenGL integrated visualization. It is available for Windows and Linux through the official webpage, and it’s light and free of charge.
Additionally, it does not only work with scales, angles or views, but also allows the use of different textures, color tones, contrasts, shadows, and other functions to develop a complete design. Even though gCAD3D is aimed at design or architecture professionals, its user-friendly style makes it a program that can be used by anyone with little knowledge in the use of these complex environments.
In sum, architects, designers, and engineers have interesting tools available to make their work easier and faster. They just need to take advantage of them.