3 pitfalls of low-cost CAD software

Low Cost CAD Software

Think twice before cutting corners with free, cheap or low cost 2D CAD software. Here are three reasons why you might regret that decision.

Everyone has a time where they thought they were getting a great deal but wound up with a lemon instead. While this is a common sentiment when shopping for a car, it also applies to tech purchases like 2D CAD software.

There are a broad range of low cost CAD packages out there you might be considering, including SketchUp, ProgeCAD, BricsCAD, DesignCAD 3D Max, NanoCAD, GStarCAD or IronCAD.  While these low cost or free options might seem like an attractive route at first,  there are a number of risks you take compared to a more established product.  

With the introduction of subscription pricing for Autodesk software and new products like Fusion 360 and FormIt 360, there is no need to take unnecessary risks.  These are three reasons to think twice before compromising with a free, cheap orlow-cost CAD tool.

1. It's alienating you from preferred tools and vocabulary in the industry

In the world of CAD, it's an indisputable fact that a small number of software publishers have earned a market-leading position. As such, their products become the de facto standard. Using a product that strays from this can be a huge hassle when it comes to collaborating with others in the field, looking for support online, or even hiring employees or seeking a position.

Incompatible file formats can become a real pain in the neck when dealing with free or low-cost software. Whether you're working as a contractor, procuring software for your team or practising your CAD skills, you need to be able to work with industry-standard file formats, such as AutoCAD's .dwg. That has been one of the most commonly used CAD file formats since its inception in 1982, so software that can't work with it will be a major obstacle.

2. It shortchanges you with key functions and capabilities

One of the reasons AutoCAD products are a tool of choice is that they have been around for quite some time, and they have become more capable and feature-loaded with each new iteration. This includes the lower-cost option AutoCAD LT.

Despite the smaller price tag, AutoCAD LT still offers some of the platform's most innovative features, such as Custom User Interface files, the Sheet Set Manager and Content Explorer.

Buy AutoCAD LT

3. It isn't actually low-cost software

Sure, the price you pay upfront might be less than what you'd spend on software like AutoCAD LT, but not all costs are measured in dollars and cents.

Say you opt for free CAD software. It's more than likely you'll spend a great deal of time figuring out workarounds to handle unsupported file formats, fixing bugs due to incompatibility and even just learning how to use that software. AutoCAD LT avoids those problems without the expense.

It's fine to be budget-minded, but you don't need to hamstring yourself with a 'deal' that's more trouble than it's worth.

Autodesk subscription: Industry leading software now with affordable subscription pricing

With the introduction of subscription pricing, there's no need to take risks with free of inferior software.  Autodesk produce high quality, industry leading software at affordable prices.  With subscription pricing, you no longer have a high upfront cost to purchase your software, you simply pay for the period you need to use the software, providing a much lower cost of entry.  With Autodesk's LT product range and new software including Fusion 360 and FormIt 360, you can access professional software with highly affordable pricing and flexible subscription terms. With Redstack's online store, it's now simple and convenient to purchase your CAD software anywhere, any time.  See these examples of highly affordable, professional CAD software.

Visit the Redstack Online store to browse our full range of Autodesk software at

Autodesk® AutoCAD® software
Ultimaker 3 3D Printer
Featuring seamless hardware, software and material integration the Ultimaker 3 3D printer creates complex geometries and achieves remarkable design intricacy with the most reliable dual extrusion on the market.
Autodesk Revit
Autodesk Revit software is built for Building Information Modelling (BIM), helping professionals design, build, and maintain higher-quality buildings.
Autodesk Architecture, Engineering and Construction Collection
This collection equips you to design higher quality and more sustainable buildings. Build your capability to deliver great design.
Autodesk Product Design & Manufacturing Collection
The Autodesk Product Design and Manufacturing Collection is the best way to access the most essential Autodesk software for product and factory design.
Autodesk Media and Entertainment Collection
Digital content creation tools for efficient 3D animation, compelling effects, believable 3D characters, and stunning environments for film, TV and game workflows.
Design every detail with AutoCAD software. Share your work with confidence using Trusted DWG™ technology, and connect your workflow across integrated desktop, cloud, and mobile solutions.
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Autodesk Inventor—professional grade design and engineering tools that help you make great products.
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