I have worked with Solidworks throughout my time at university on the Solidworks student licence. However, I want to start using Computer aided design for commercial use and being on the student licence, I cannot do this. Is there a computer aided design software similar to solidworks that I can purchase outright, or is affordable.

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2 Answers 2


The closest thing to Solidworks out there that is truly free and open source is FreeCAD. Despite all its limitations and idiosyncrasies it shares the same base concept of parametric design based on sketches and constraints and is pretty capable for things from small to medium complexity.

It can output technical drawings to PDF and DXF and export to common formats like STEP and has a rich ecosystem of workbenches and third party addons.

A close alternative that shares the same base workflow but can't output technical drawings is the Salome Platform.

Other than that there are multiple more affordable commercial CAD solutions out there, some subscription model based, some single payment permanent license, and even some free web based ones (the price being your privacy and independence).


I hate to break it to you, but if you want to be a professional design engineer you are going to need adequate tools. Some clients might not even consider you if you don't use Solidworks. My experience with open source solid modeling software has not been good. There may be new options I'm not experienced with (such as this). You might consider Autodesk Fusion 360. I found it quite capable and an easy transition from Solidworks. Licensing is not free, but very reasonable considering the capabilities. You can try it for free. For the record, I have no affiliation with Autodesk.

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