AutoCAD LT - The Cheap Way Into AutoCAD

AutoCAD LT 2011
AutoCAD LT 2011

What is AutoCAD LT?

AutoCAD Full Edition is the big brother of AutoCAD LT. The LT platform offers a great way for smaller offices to operate at a much lower overhead. AutoCAD LT typically costs 1/4 of the full version. Currently as I am writing this, the going price for AutoCAD LT 2011 is $775 on Amazon. A full copy of standard AutoCAD is currently $3995 at the Autodesk Store.

With the recent popularity in new tools like Revit and AutoCAD Architecture, may offices often run these side by side with a strong 2D platform like LT.


AutoCAD 3rd party programs won't run

LT was essentially created by "stripping down" AutoCAD Full version. In the process the program-ability of it was removed. This means in LT there is no LISP, ARX or VBA 3D or 3D print capability (but there are some LT add-ons on the market that will do this - see below). In addition Dialog box programming is not available.

LT will support command scripting, menu customization, command aliasing, custom hatch patterns, 3rd party symbol libraries and all text fonts including SHX files and Adobe and PostScript.

Limited 3D functionality

LT by itself cannot create 3d solids, faces, mesh, toruses, etc. However it can use them and they can be manipulated to some extent. Therefore if you're doing a lot of 3D you may want to look at  AutoCAD or other alternative (see below) as LT just doesn't have the tools by itself to easily work complex 3D layouts.

However certain 3D features such as 3D extrusions, 3D line creation, hide, shade, paper space, user coordinate system, multiple views (side, elevation, etc.), and the ability to view and modify 3D drawings in DWG format are supported.

Other features with limited functionality

  1. AutoCAD LT also is not network compatible.
  2. Currently LT is not able to use the new AutoCAD constraints (introduced in 2010)
  3. Some performance loss with larger drawings have been reported

CADSTA Max LT Extender
CADSTA Max LT Extender
ZWCAD - AutoCAD Alternative
ZWCAD - AutoCAD Alternative

Add-ons & Alternatives to LT

Fortunately there are a few alternatives if you either need the 3D or require 3rd party integration"

  • Upgrade to AutoCAD Full
  • Buy a lisp extender
  • Shop IntelliCAD

There are a few Lisp Extenders on the market. CADTSA Max (the premiere add-on) also supports LISP, FAS, VLX, ARX and DBX. Additionally, CADSTA Max contains a wide range of impressive enhancement tools to further increase productivity such as the XREF manager and Layer utility tool sets.

Another alternative is to look at IntelliCAD products such as ZWCAD. These offer full 3D capability and also support LISP and other customizations. The ZWCAD professional version sells for about $300-$400 less than LT and offers a closer resemblance to the features found in the full version of AutoCAD.

Let me know what you think about LT - send a comment below.

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