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Free CAD software

1906 Views 11 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Marlin Guy
A friend of mine is lobbying his employer to become the principle designer of the new kitchen layout at their restaurant. He told her that he feels eminently qualified to assume that responsibility because he has drawn up a lot of nice restaurant blueprints previously, as recently as 1986.

So how do we bring my friend into this century, nee, into the last two decades of the previous century, without him spending any money? He probably has Windows Vista or 7 and has been able to add software programs to his computers by himself for over a decade.

When I searched for "free" CAD software, the first few listings were either for a free trial before purchase or required extensive pre-registration, which I fear may drag some spyware into his computer. If there is no was to avoid preregistering, I suppose he could use any old workstation computer and a Yahoo address to keep himself isolated from his CAD software benefactor.
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Learning CAD software is a major undertaking and if there's only one project, I'd skip it. The benefit of CAD is largely derived from re-use of designs and if you're not likely to re-use anything, putting it in CAD is simply inviting a new complication for the sake of complication. Pencils haven't stopped working yet and, as far as I know, are still considered "green".

Learning free software is even more complex as there typically aren't organized classes or tutorials offered.

If your bound and determined to make this about dragging your friend into the 21st century without obvious up-front costs, look at Google SketchUp.
Because MSPaint is entirely bitmap based, it is the wrong tool for the job of doing structured drawing. You can doodle things to scale, but if you find any reason to modify the drawing (ie moving a wall or fixture), you pretty much have to erase it and start over as if you were using pencil.

I can't stress enough the importance of using a tool that is more powerful than using a drafting set and a scanner. Anyone familiar with CAD will see through the ruse when the file comes in BMP or some other bitmap format.
Marlin Guy said:
There are a number of free offerings on Sourceforge as well.
Only one of these (LibreCAD) might be useful for architectural drawings. RattleCAD seems to be dedicated to bicycle design.

CAD means different things to different people. The key is finding a program that allows you to tweak vectors rather than pixels.
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