Tools Review: The 10 Best FREE PCB Design Solutions

PCB design solutions are software tools that automate many of the tasks that EDEs previously performed manually over the course of designing an electronic circuit. There are variety of tools available including many excellent free options. For new PCB designers, making a decision which solution to use can be a challenge. To make your decision easier, we have reviewed different tools and listed below the 10 Best FREE PCB Design Solutions available in the marketplace today. We recommend starting with free PCB software until you require more advanced software features and are more experienced, in order to get the best use out of paid software.

1. KiCad

This is an open source software suite containing programs for Schematic Capture, PCB Layout and Gerber file output. It has more horsepower than a basic schematic capture tool and it is specifically designed for multiple tasks needed in Electronic Design Automation. It can handle PCB layouts up to 32 layers and even includes a 3D viewer so you can review your design with rotate and pan inspection capabilities. This is the most used and well regarded free PCB design tools.
Platforms: Windows, Linux and OS X

2. DesignSpark PCB

DesignSpark PCB is a very popular, easy-to-learn schematics capture and PCB layout tool for electronic design automation. It has a broad range of users from students to professional EDEs. It is free and can create 3D views so you can to visualize your design in real time.
Platforms: Windows

3. ExpressPCB Plus and ExpressSCH

This is a basic PCB design and layout tool that's easy to install, easy to learn, and easy to use. It can work with multilayer PCBS up to 4 layers. It's a great tool for rapid prototyping and small production runs. There is a community component library and ExpressSCH for schematic creation.
Platforms: Windows

4. Osmond PCB

This is a PCB design solution for Mac computers. It has an excellent spatial resolution of 10 nanometers. You can now design boards of any size and shape and with as many layers as you want. It's easy to use in metric or imperial units. And its editing tools makes it easy to design and tweak your circuits.
Price: Free for <700 pins and $79 for >700 pins
Platforms: Mac OSX

5. Zenit PCB

Overall, it’s a great, simple and easy to use PCB design tool to get you started designing circuits fast. This software is aimed at students and hobbyists who do not need the most advanced features and not wish to pay for more expensive software. It does not have a built-in autorouter. A schematic editor ZenitCapture is also available for a full circuit design solution. Designs are limited to 1000 pins.
Platforms: Windows

6. FreePCB

This is a free and open source PCB design editor. It does not have a built-in autorouter, but it can use the FreeRoute web-based autorouter. While its source code is copyrighted, FreePCB was released under the GNU General Public License (version 2 or later).
Platforms: Windows

7. Fritzing

This is PCB layout tool that is uniquely supported by a community website and services for teaching electronics. It is meant to be a creative platform that's easy to use and has similarities to Processing and Arduino. Useful for new designers or students.
Platforms: Windows, Mac OSX, Linux

8. TinyCAD

This is a basic electronic circuit schematic drawing solution that's supported by extensive symbol libraries to facilitate PCB layout tasks. What's nice about this tool is that you can use it as front end to other PCB layout tools. It also has the ability to check for design circuit flaws. This is an open source software project.
Platforms: Windows

9. gEDA

This is a comprehensive Electronic Design Automation suite and toolkit that runs on Linux. It's free and capable of performing schematic capture, attribute management, BOM generation, analog and digital simulation, and PCB layout.
Platforms: Linux

10. BSch3V

This is a schematic capture tool for use on Windows. The name "BSch" is an abbreviation of "Basic Schematic". It's the third generation of Suigyodo's schematic capture software. It's a basic schematic editor and can't handle complex tasks. There are better free schematic editors available.
Platforms: Windows


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