There are no limits now as to who can sketch or draw almost anything, in the advent of modern mobile phones and tablets. CAD app makes it possible for one to experience the craft at your very own hand. This is without asking any special qualifications, either you are young or old, technical or none technical, architect or aspiring to be an architect, building engineer or a carpenter or, just any ordinary guy around. So long as, you got the right gear, the interest, and time to learn. You can draw or model like a pro with just points of a finger.
There are a bunch of 2D and 3D CAD modeling apps out there made available through the web right now. Citing few of the finest, here are the best and the most straight forward CAD apps highly commended by professionals and most users.
If you are out to learn CAD for a start, this top ten list will help you find the right app at your comfort zone.
1) AutoCAD 360
Developed by Autodesk®, Autocad 360 is a helpful app. It is designed also to eliminate some inconveniences caused by a site to office drawing routine. The app enables you to revise a sketch at hand directly on site. Thus, saves time and effort incomparable with the frequent field visits when working on a desktop in the office.
The application features the freedom to draw objects in any shape with object snap, editing tools to quickly select, rotate, move, and scale objects. The app enables you to manage layers freely for clean workflow. It is also capable of doing multi-touch zoom and pan, seamless and faster drawing. You can even use GPS to orient your position in the actual site on your mobile screen, which is brilliant.
Annotating on any part of the drawing can be easily done. You can set marks on it. Likewise, comments and even photos can be incorporated all together.
Sharing is also one of the practical features of Autocad360. Important drawings or revisions can be easily shared online. You can also plot and send it through email in pdf format and do collaboration in design feed as well.
Autocad 360 is supported with external cloud storage. Among the few to mention are, google drive, one drive, and dropbox. It also comes with the convenience of being able to edit and update external storage files at the same time. The app is also equipped with offline support. This enables your latest revised or edited a file to sync automatically once your device goes online again.
You can start learning Autocad 360 with their BASIC free plan, and try their PRO plan free for a 30 day period. The BASIC plan remains free, but many features such as drawing and editing tools, creating a new drawing, annotation tools, layers, object properties, blocks, and priority support are excluded. Paid PRO and PRO plus plans cost around $50 and $100 per year, accordingly.
Autocad 360 is available on Apple, Android, and Windows mobile platforms. More info, and video tutorials are available on youtube on the Autocad 360 Channel
2) CAD Pockets
Developed by ZWCAD Soft Co., CAD Pockets (formerly ZWCAD Touch) feels quick and responsive. It packs lots of features. The app claims to address the common problem of lag when using desktop drawing software. The company promises their app works without lag, but is it really better than investing in a powerful computer? Certainly not, but it does fill a void for smooth workflow on mobile.
CAD Pockets can create, edit and annotate drawings in a familiar way with some extras. The annotation feature can store voice recordings, thus, eliminating the hassle of composing text where it can be substituted.
The app features basic to advanced drawing tools such as, measurement, block, grip, layers, and coordinates. It is also capable of 3D viewing on wire frame or a solid render.
CAD Pockets is compatible with 2D and 3D DWG, DXF, DWF files. Drawings can also be exported to JPG, and PDF formats.
The app can also sync with cloud storage drives including Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and SugarSync. Offline files automatically sync when you regain connection.
3) CAD Viewer – GstarCAD MC
Developed by Suzhou Gstarsoft Co., GstarCAD MC or commonly known as CAD Viewer, is a highly rated CAD app on Google’s Play store. Like Autocad 360 and CAD Pockets, the app shares a close similarity with the two in terms of features.
CAD Viewer is capable of 2D and 3D perspectives viewing and being able to export CAD files in DWG and DXF drawing format for editing. Features like, move, copy, new, open and drawing are included in the app. The app is also capable of either multi-finger or single finger panning.
There are four options in the 2D and 3D visual features of CAD viewer. You can either use, 2D wireframe, 3D wireframe, realistic and hidden 3D.
Direct upload and download of your drawing file without skipping on the cloud folder can be done. CAD viewer mainly supports Dropbox and Baidu cloud drives. You can download and backup your drawings from cloud storage to a local folder.
CAD viewer also provides accessible support under the help menu, with a pop-up document which helps guide you through its features, capabilities, and operations. It is a continuously improving app which attempts to use customer feedback for future updates.
The messaging tool is also a great feature with CAD Viewer, most importantly vital when you are doing collaboration jobs. You can receive, view a message and delete it afterward.
eDrawings is another useful app developed by SOLIDWORKS®. The app can be described as an intuitive and easy to use application. It features multi-touch zooming, panning, rotating 2D and 3D drawing. It enables you to browse 2D drawing sheets, animate 3D standard views and double tap full-screen viewing. An easy to learn app equipped with sample files you can refer to a certain type of drawing and modeling you are doing.
The app supports viewing and printing in SOLIDWORKS® format, AutoCAD® DWG and DXF file formats. What is nice about this app is, you can even save your drawing for prototyping and presentation in STL, TIFF, JPEG and BMP formats. Also, because of the file size in the app is highly compressed, 3D models and 2D drawings, even complex structures can easily be explored and interpreted by features like 3D pointer, Virtual Folding, Point-and-click Animation, and hyperlinking.
The app is primarily designed for people who wanted to learn and conceptualized 3D product data without the aid of any CAD software.
There are two separate tools from SOLIDWORKS® for eDrawings, namely Viewer and Pro. eDrawings Viewer offers ultra-compact files, built-in viewer, drawing a layout, hyperlinking, 3D pointer, point-and-click animation, view design results, save in STL and other file formats for Windows and mobile platforms.
The eDrawings Pro, on the other hand, lets you enjoy all the features of the eDrawings Viewer with additional tools like password protection (only for Windows), dynamic cross sectioning, move components and explode views, view configurations, play Solidworks animation, view mass properties and augmented reality (only for mobile).
SOLIDWORKS® also comes with eDrawings Publisher for Viewer and Pro versions. It supports a wide variety of CAD formats like, PTC CREO, RapidFire Lite, Autodesk Inventor, SketchUp, CATIA V5, SIEMENS NX and Solid Edge for STEP, IGES, STL, DGN, OBJ, and SketchUp.
eDrawings Viewer and Pro are not for free. The Viewer edition costs about $1.99, while the Pro costs $9.99.
eDrawings Viewer and Pro versions are available for Windows, Mac, and Android devices, crossing the multi-platform constraints, unlike many mobile apps.
5) CAD Assistant
CAD Assistant is an open-sourced tool that is used to view and convert CAD files. Developed by OPEN CASCADE in France, it was first released on December 16, 2014. It’s currently rated 4.6 stars with just 243 users who evaluated the app to date on Google Play, and counts over 50,000 downloads, CAD Assistant is a promising new app that is worth a try.
The app mainly features viewing and converting CAD models. Very basic but effective. It is able to support shape geometry and nested compound assembly structures, colors, top level object names. It also provides file information of BRep, IGES 5.1 & 5.3, STEP AP203 & AP214 formats.
The app is designed with a tree browser. This enables you to freely navigate the assembly structure of the model in which at the same time, can also be shown or hidden for a thorough review and inspection of your model. Selected part or sub-assembly can also be queried with its properties like names and product information. Not only that, geometric attributes like area, volume, and centroid of a part can also be known just by tapping on it. Models can be saved in neutral IGES, STEP, or OCCT internal BRep format.
CAD Assistant can also view mesh models from results implemented by MeshVS component of OCCT which is incorporated in the app. Generally, for convenience and simplicity, the app reads mesh in PLY format. If you have models in mesh format, you can easily save it in PLY format and have it viewed on a tablet. Mesh data can be displayed in RGB color or scalar, as well as applied to nodes and polygons. Viewing mesh models in wireframe, shaded, and shrink modes are also available.
The app-enhanced its features with multi-touch screen capability and ability to manipulate model viewing with finger gestures. Basically, drawings or models can be rotated by just using a single finger and double for panning and zooming, accordingly.
iOS versions 5.1.1 and above(iPad & iPhone) and Android versions 4.0.4 and above are the only platforms supported with CAD Assistant. Tablets and mobile phones can easily use the app, but it is limited only in landscape view to smartphone users.
Certain limitations of the app are made known to the public by the developer. The app is typically at its optimum with the latest high-speed processor and advanced graphic supported devices. But, for an average device, opening files larger than 50MB might cause the application to crash and shut down without notification due to GPU problems.
OPEN CASCADE guarantees to improve CAD Assistant through community contributions. Currently, the app is free to download for public use. However, since it is an open source application, there is no warranty of any sorts from the developer.
6) CAD Touch
CAD Touch aims for simplicity in drawing and modeling. That’s not to say that it lacks numerous design features. Advanced users can certainly find convenience and precision with the offered tools. Google Play users rate it 3.9 stars to date with some five million installs.
The app provides the capability to able to draw lines and shapes with ease from polylines, rectangles, circles, and arcs. Additional editing includes 3D points, hatch, text, smart and angular dimensions, sketch, revision cloud, and rulers. The edit menu also enables you to delete, drag, copy, rotate, mirror, scale, trim lines, parallel offset, group and explode. Sketching can be done with the easy to use OSNAP tool. Lines can also be edited, changing its width, colors, and pattern. You can also alternate between black or white backgrounds.
The app provides an editable object library wherein you can choose preferences like architecture, engineering, electronics, home design and more additional options to come in future updates. Tools for info query, advanced layer, redo and undo are also included in the app.
The app supports either online or offline operation, saving a drawing as standard DWG which is widely used in the industry. And, it is able to import seamless DWG and DXF formats. It also enables you to save HD images of your drawing to a photo album. Shares in DWG and PDF file format via Bluetooth, email or dropbox. Plus, it is capable of direct printing (iOS) with ePrint support.
CAD Touch app is free for trial software with no subscription required. But, an upgrade to Pro version will let you enjoy external file sharing, saving, and object customization as an additional feature. You can download the basic and upgrade to Pro version of CAD Touch at Google Play for Android and the App Store for iOS platform, accordingly.
This CAD app is ideal for small and medium sized projects like home improvement, or remodeling jobs and site surveys. Developed by Plugworks, PadCAD is meant to be easy to use. It is capable of creating elements like drawing walls, lines, circles, rectangular rooms, square footages or stairs, dimensions, doors, windows, free shapes, inserting text, taking pictures, copying elements and creating custom symbols.
The app is also able to do editing by joystick tool and numeric keypad, selecting, moving or rotating, locking and unlocking, deleting and adjusting attributes of elements. Included also in its package, is the snapping to elements or grid and the intuitive zoom and pan features. Provided features in its preferences panel are its’ capability of creating, exporting, saving, loading and cloning drawings. You can also adjust the default grid size, wall thickness, units, scales and colors of background screen for smooth viewing.
Being able to attach an actual site photo on any part of your drawing makes it useful for monitoring the construction phase of your project. The pictures are represented with an icon in the drawing, which facilitates recalling any previous phases.
The app uses iTunes to share files from iPad to desktop and vice versa. You can export PDF, DXF and image PNG format but you need to pay a one-time fee of $14.99 in order to save and export drawings. CAD Pad is available for Android and iPad platforms for free, but with limited features.
8) SKetchUp Mobile Viewer
SketchUp has gained quite a bit of popularity from amateurs and pros alike. Its’ user interface is simple and direct.
SketchUp Mobile Viewer is compatible with iOS and Android devices. However, the minimum requirements are (for iOS) iOS 7 and above, iPhone 5/5s and above and Retina iPads or better. The operating system on the other hand for Android devices must be Andriod 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or above and with 4″ screen with higher MDPI, HDPI, XHDPI, XXHDPI resolutions. Should you wish to learn the app, support is made available through their website via books, blogs, video tutorials, trainers and help center.
9) FUSION 360
Another great app from Autodesk, Inc. Fusion 360 is a CAD, CAM, and CAE tool. Created for product development, it brings life to a new product from conceptual design, detailed engineering sketch, machining preparation for fabrication and sharing of design ideas.
The app is equipped with solid, surface, parametric and mesh modeling features. Enables OBJ and STL bodies to be imported as mesh file which can be adopted as custom design. Fusion 360 can import, export and translate 50 CAD file types and can view more than 100 data formats. SLDPRT, SAT, IGES, STEP, STL, OBJ, DWG, F3D, SMT, and DFX are just a few to mention.
The app is propositioned for users to work almost anywhere and on any platforms. The possibility to design whether on a PC, MAC, iOS and Android interchangeably with its’ cloud service is a convenient and efficient capability.
The app includes basic features like viewing and tracking of project activities and updates, reviewing of design and assemblies, access complete part list and properties, measure dimensions (area between points, distances and angles) of 2D and 3D model, hide blocks or assemblies for easy viewing. View navigation is facilitated with the ability to pan, rotate and zoom view by touch.
10) CAD Reader-DWG/DXF Viewer
Developed by Glodon Software Co., Ltd., CAD Reader-DWG/DXF Viewer is an app that aims at catering to beginners with little experience in CAD. The app is ideally made to have a convenient site visit wherein, you can easily mark or annotate some part of the plan. Plus, you can attach actual site photo to the corresponding section with an issue.
Professionals in the field of engineering and architecture find CAD Reader-DWG/DXF to be a useful add-on to read CAD files on their mobile phones and tablets. The developers boast three main aspects of their app:
- Fast and Smooth – opens fast during start up and with a smooth operation experience from then on
- Easy-to-use – as it was designed, it requires no extraordinary expertise to learn how to use the tabs and the tools for this app.
- Light weight – the app software only requires 12 MB of memory to run on your mobile gadget and tablet.
Other useful features of CAD Reader-DWG/DXF include, comments that can be shared to a desktop just by logging in the app, layers and layout management, easy multi-zoom and pan features when opening large CAD drawings. You can also email and share files through IM apps. Should you be interested in using the app, CAD Reader-DWG/DXF viewer is available on Google Play free of cost.