|Original author(s)||Jürgen Riegel, Werner Mayer, Yorik van Havre[a]|
|Initial release||29 October 2002|
0.19.2 / 22 April 2021
|Written in||C++, Python|
|Type||3D Modeling, CAD, BIM, FEM|
FreeCAD is a general-purpose parametric 3D computer-aided design (CAD) modeler and a building information modeling (BIM) software with finite element method (FEM) support. It is intended for mechanical engineering product design but also expands to a wider range of uses around engineering, such as architecture or electrical engineering. FreeCAD is free and open-source, under the LGPL-2.0-or-later license, and available for Linux, macOS, and Windows operating systems. Users can extend the functionality of the software using the Python programming language.
FreeCAD features tools similar to CATIA, Creo, SolidWorks, Solid Edge, NX, Inventor, Revit, and therefore also falls into the category of building information modeling (BIM), mechanical computer-aided design (MCAD), PLM, CAx and CAE. It is intended to be a feature-based parametric modeler with a modular software architecture, which makes it easy to provide additional functionality without modifying the core system.
As with many modern 3D CAD modelers, it will have a 2D component to facilitate 3D-to-2D drawing conversion. Under its current state, direct 2D drawing (like AutoCAD LT) is not the focus for this software, neither are animation or 3D model manipulation (like Blender, Maya, or Cinema 4D). However, the modular nature of FreeCAD will allow the user to adapt its workflow for such environments.
FreeCAD uses open-source libraries from the field of computing science; among them are Open CASCADE Technology (a CAD kernel), Coin3D (an incarnation of Open Inventor), the Qt GUI framework, and Python, a popular scripting language. FreeCAD itself can also be used as a library by other programs.
Supported file formats
FreeCAD's own main file format is FreeCAD Standard file format (.FCStd). It is a standard zip file that holds files in a certain structure. Document.xml file has all geometric and parametric objects definitions. GuiDocument.xml then has visual representation details of objects. Other files include brep-files for objects and thumbnail of drawing.
Besides FreeCAD's own file format, files can be exported and imported in the following file formats: DXF, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), STEP, IGES, STL (STereoLithography), OBJ (Wavefront), DAE (Collada), SCAD (OpenSCAD), IV (Inventor) and IFC.
FreeCAD's support for the important DWG file format has been problematic due to software license compatibility problems with the GNU LibreDWG library. The GNU LibreDWG library started as a real free alternative to the source-available OpenDWG library (later Teigha Converter and now ODA File Converter) and is licensed under the GPLv3. As FreeCAD (and also LibreCAD) has dependencies on Open Cascade, which prior to version 6.7.0 was only compatible with GPLv2, it couldn't use the GNU LibreDWG library as GPLv2 and GPLv3 are essentially incompatible. Open CASCADE technology was contacted by Debian team in 2009, and 2012 got a reply that Open CASCADE technology was considering dual-licensing OCCT (the library), however they postponed that move. A request also went to the FSF to relicense GNU LibreDWG as GPLv2 or LGPLv3, which was rejected.
As of 2014 the 0.14 release of FreeCAD, including the new LGPL release of Open Cascade, the BSD-licensed version of Coin3D, and the removal of PyQT, FreeCAD is now completely GPL-free. However, LibreDWG has not been adopted. FreeCAD is able to import and export a limited subset of the DWG format via the ODA File Converter (the former OpenDWG library).
Promotions during events
FreeCAD was notably presented at FISL 16 in 2015, in Porto Alegre, as well as at the Libre Graphics Meeting in London in 2016. These two exhibitions can bring together both developers and users. In 2020, it was during FOSDEM in Brussels that two of these developers, Yorik Van Havre and Brad Collette made the presentation.
- GitHub Files section (github
.com /FreeCAD /FreeCAD)
- SourceForge Files section (sourceforge
.net /projects /free-cad /files /) (on this SourceForge page, it is posted that this project has moved to GitHub.)
- SourceForge Old Files section (sourceforge
.net /projects /free-cad /files /OldFiles /)
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.0.1||October 29, 2002||Initial release|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.1||January 27, 2003|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.2||August 9, 2005|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.3||October 31, 2005|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.4||January 15, 2006|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.5||October 5, 2006|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.6||February 27, 2007|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.7||April 24, 2009|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.8||July 10, 2009|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.9||January 16, 2010|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.10||July 24, 2010|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.11||May 3, 2011||sketcher, part, 2D and robot modules|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.12||November 20, 2011||architecture Module|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.13||January 29, 2013||ship design module, openscad module, 3D mice support|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.14||July 1, 2014||License changed to LGPLv2+, spreadsheet module, render to LuxCoreRender|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.15||April 8, 2015||Oculus Rift support, updated ifc importer in Architecture module|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.16||April 18, 2016||FEM workbench, path module|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 0.17||April 6, 2018||add on manager, surface module, tech draw module|
|Older version, yet still maintained: 0.18||March 12, 2019||new start view, extended arch module, many improved modules In 0.18.5 Addon-Manager broken, so 0.18.4 is stable release.|
|Current stable version: 0.19||March 20, 2021||modules to Python 3 and Qt5 mostly ported, actual 0.19.2|
|Future release: 0.20||2022||Development Version with weekly builds|
- Comparison of computer-aided design software
- Boundary representation
- Constructive solid geometry
- Open CASCADE Technology
- Parametric modeling
- Jürgen Riegel no longer participates in the active development of FreeCAD since the end of 2015.
- "FreeCAD History". wiki.freecadweb.org.
- "Release 0.19.2". 22 April 2021. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
- "Testing FEM Workbench of FreeCAD". jolahde.kapsi.fi. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
- "Feature list - FreeCAD Documentation". wiki.freecadweb.org. Retrieved 2020-06-01.
- "Open Cascade at FOSDEM 2020". opencascade.com.
- Okoi, Martins (December 1, 2017). "FreeCAD – A 3D Modeling and Design Software for Linux". FOSSMint. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
- "Arch Module". FreeCAD wiki. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
- Editors, D. E. (2020-12-21). "3DfindIT.com Directly Integrated into FreeCAD". Digital Engineering. Retrieved 2021-04-08.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- "File Format FCStd - FreeCAD Documentation". freecadweb.org. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
- "Feature list". FreeCAD wiki. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
- Larabel, Michael (2013-01-24). "FSF Wastes Away Another "High Priority" Project". Phoronix. Archived from the original on 2016-11-09. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
- Prokoudine, Alexandre (26 January 2012). "What's up with DWG adoption in free software?". libregraphicsworld.org. Archived from the original on 2016-11-09. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
- "Frequently Asked Questions about the GNU Licenses – Is GPLv3 compatible with GPLv2?". The official site. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
- Prokoudine, Alexandre (2012-12-27). "LibreDWG drama: the end or the new beginning?". libregraphicsworld.org. Archived from the original on 2016-11-09. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- "License". freecadweb.org. 2014. Archived from the original on 2016-12-04. Retrieved 2015-03-25.
- "Release notes 0.14 - FreeCAD Documentation".
- van Havre, Yorik (2015). "FreeCAD at FISL16" (PDF). yorik.uncreated.net.
- van Havre, Yorik (2016). "Yorik van Havre at LGM 2016" (PDF). yorik.uncreated.net.
- "Open-source design ecosystems around FreeCAD". archive.fosdem.org. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
- "Release notes 0.11 - FreeCAD Documentation".
- "Release notes 0.12 - FreeCAD Documentation".
- "Release notes 0.13 - FreeCAD Documentation".
- "Release notes 0.15". Retrieved 19 February 2019.
- "Release notes 0.16". Retrieved 19 February 2019.
- "Release notes 0.17". Retrieved 19 February 2019.
- "Release notes 0.18". Retrieved 15 March 2019.
- "Release notes 0.19". Retrieved 31 March 2021.
- "Release notes 0.20". Retrieved 31 March 2021.
- "Release weekly-builds · FreeCAD/FreeCAD-Bundle".
- Falck, Daniel; Collette, Brad (2012): FreeCAD [How-to]. Solid Modeling with the Power of Python, Packt Publishing, Birmingham, ISBN 978-1-84951-886-4.
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