nanoCAD is a free, full-featured 3D CAD solution for all your CAD needs. Designed to replace the big name retail CAD programs, it stands out among free CAD programs as one of the best.
CAD programs are some of my favorites to mess around with, without actually producing anything useful from them necessarily.
I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of creating or re-creating objects in three dimensions on the computer, ever since I saw my first example of a vector graphic in the early 80s.
I enjoy just messing around with them, seeing what I can come up with, but I also know a few people who use them on a regular basis for work and other endeavors. It is therefore always of interest to me to find a new CAD program that is both full-featured as well as free.
nanoCAD is both of those things and it’s definitely one of the more impressive CAD tools I have seen, never mind the fact that it costs nothing to use or download and the wide online community and support on the home page.
The install process is bereft of toolbars and junkware, which is always preferable. In order to use the program, you will need to get a serial number and register a license. but this costs nothing but time to fill out the forms. You’ll need to provide an email address, which they send a link to which allows you to download the product. Then you will also get an email containing your login information and after installing the program itself a registration wizard will lead you through the process of getting that free license number. It’s a bit complex, with all those steps just to get the program running for the first time, but the end result is worth it and the whole process is an indicator of what using the program is like all around. From beginning to end, it is easy and user-friendly, but with many steps along every way. This is to be expected, however, when using a CAD program, really, since the whole idea is to create 3D objects from digital nothingness.
Once up and running, you will have a couple of graphic options asked of you at the start up and you will be ready to begin using the various functions of the program. While I admit that many of the functions are beyond my skill level and understanding, it is worth noting that the sheer amount of options, features, tools and functions is pretty impressive and almost overwhelming. This is especially true when comparing nanoCAD to a few different free CAD tools I have used in the past. Specifically, nanoCAD uses the .dwg format so you can be sure of compatibility, as well as a number of key features that go above and beyond what you might expect from a free CAD utility. nanoCAD is really an ultimate 3D CAD solution, not just a tool to manage or manipulate. The drawing tools are exceptionally robust, and the interface is easy and familiar for anyone who has used some of the more popular retail programs for CAD, like AutoCAD. Additionally, since the program is an open API project, it is possible to develop or modify it for your own needs, if you should decide to. You can use the open coding, essentially, to develop you own applications and programs built around or with the nanoCAD system itself. I was also impressed with the ability to modify the right button context menu based on the current environment, as well as the auto-complete features that make everything faster and easier.
Overall, after my exploration of nanoCAD, I sort of think of it as the gimp of the CAD world. Whereas gimp is to replace Photoshop, nanoCAD can easily replace AutoCAD in most respects. There are too many tools and functions to go into all of them, and unless you are a regular user of 3D CAD programs, you wouldn’t know what to do with them anyway, but I can reliably state that nanoCAD is a decent replacement or free alternative to any of the retail cost CAD programs out there now. I would put it in the same category of quality and expectations for future usability with programs like OpenOffice.org. So, if you have need of a free CAD solution, or just want to see what the alternative to using an expensive program has to offer, check out nanoCAD, you won’t be disappointed.
[Thanks go to reader Panzer for the tip about this great program].
Get nanoCAD here (registration with a valid email required).