Top 5 CAD Software to Have on Linux

FreeCAD Arrays
Image Credit: Tony Rotondas licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Due to its open-source and customizable nature, Linux has become very popular in a lot of fields, including engineering. Indeed, Benson Hougland, marketing VP of manufacturing company Opto 22, attests that one of the primary drivers of the rise of Linux is “the desire for flexibility to develop anything the [engineer] can dream of in an industrially hardened, standards-compliant computing platform.” As such, it’s also no secret that many computer-aided design (CAD) software is available on the platform — here, we’ll introduce you to the best of them.

1. Upverter

If you’re working with a team of electronic engineers, you will need a CAD platform that’s easy to collaborate on, making Upverter a top option in the category. Upverter is a cloud-based Linux PCB design software that lets you access your files from anywhere and at any time. It’s equipped with a huge library of parts and an intuitive schematic capture system, allowing your team to create quality CAD designs online. Plus, since it’s browser-based, none of you have to install it.

2. Siemens NX

While Siemens NX has a lot of applications across multiple fields, it’s a favorite solution for product engineers. After all, product design can get a bit repetitive, but Siemens NX’s AI ensures that users are able to finish their designs much faster. For example, CAD software learns how you use the platform and can guess your next ten commands. And while it can’t be used to collaborate on one design, it can send over your suggested commands to other users, which can help standardize the quality of your products.

3. FreeCAD

FreeCAD is an open-source Linux 3D modeling platform that mechanical engineers like because of its production-ready layouts and drives formula-based library. FreeCAD is also a parametric modeler, which means that it can easily modify designs by simply changing parameters. It’s also one of few CAD software that supports multiple file formats, such as STEP, SVG, and STL, so it can easily be integrated into any existing engineering software, like SolveSpace and DesignSpark.

4. Tinkercad

For those who are new to 3D modeling, regardless of their field, Tinkercad’s simple interface makes the designing process easy to learn and easier to master. It’s the ideal introduction to Autodesk — a global leader in 3D design and entertainment software. As such, it contains a collection of free tools, including CAD software, that can help you navigate the platform. Much like Upverter, Tinkercad is browser-based, so it doesn’t take up extra space on your Linux desktop.

5. DraftSight

2D models may not provide the same depth as 3D models but they’re easier to edit. After all, they don’t have to be rendered. Therefore, every engineer needs at least one 2D modeling software to take care of those quick changes. Fortunately, Linux has DraftSight — a proprietary CAD application for 2D modeling. It doesn’t matter which of the above platforms you initially did your design on, DraftSight will support the file and allow you to make amends.

Whether you’re an electrical or product engineer, there are many great CAD software waiting for you on Linux. Just consider the features that you need and the skill-level needed to navigate the platform.