3D Lab Online Course

3D Lab Online Course

6. 3D design software – FreeCAD


6.1 Introduction

FreeCAD is known as a free, open-source parametric CAD modeler that is a great entry point for mechanical engineers who are new to the world of 3D modeling.

The software’s official page presents FreeCAD as made primarily to design real-life objects of any size. Parametric modeling allows you to easily modify your design by going back into your model history and changing its parameters. FreeCAD is open-source and highly customizable, scriptable and extensible.

According to an online review on FreeCAD, this 3D modeling software is most suitable for geometric designs, such as precise technical parts, replacement parts, gadgets, cases, scale models, etc. It’s less suited for creating organic objects such as figurines of humans, animals, or plants.


6.2 Modeling in FreeCAD

FreeCAD’s focus is to allow you to make high-precision 3D models, to keep tight control over those models (being able to go back into modelling history and change parameters), and eventually to build those models (via 3D printing, CNC machining or even construction worksite). It is therefore very different from some other 3D applications made for other purposes, such as animation film or gaming. Its learning curve can be steep, especially if this is your first contact with 3D modeling.

The main concept behind the FreeCAD interface is that it is separated into workbenches. A workbench is a collection of tools suited for a specific task, such as working with meshes, or drawing 2D objects, or constrained sketches. You can switch workbenches at any time, and also customize your favorite workbench to add tools from other workbenches.

Image 6.1 [source]

For a detailed presentation of how to get started with FreeCAD, you can visit the following link: https://www.freecadweb.org/wiki/Getting_started.

For a complete list of tutorials, you can check https://www.freecadweb.org/wiki/Tutorials.

To prepare a model for 3D printing, you can refer to these articles:

– https://www.freecadweb.org/wiki/Manual:Preparing_models_for_3D_printing
– https://www.sculpteo.com/en/tutorial/prepare-your-model-for-3D-printing-FreeCAD

You can also visit the online forum: https://forum.freecadweb.org

Other sources:
[1] https://i.materialise.com/blog/top-25-most-popular-3d-modeling-design-software-for-3d-printing
[2] https://www.freecadweb.org
[3] https://i.materialise.com/blog/freecad-tutorial-review