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Freecad jeep.png
FreeCAD Screen of Version 0.14
Original author(s) Jürgen Riegel, Werner Mayer, Yorik van Havre
Initial release 29 October 2002; 13 years ago (2002-10-29)
Stable release 0.15 / 8 April 2015; 7 months ago (2015-04-08)
Written in C++, Python
Operating system Windows, Linux, OS X, Unix
Type 3D Modeling, CAD
License LGPLv2+

FreeCAD is a free and open-source (under the LGPLv2+ license) general-purpose parametric 3D CAD modeler. FreeCAD is aimed directly at mechanical engineering and product design but also fits in a wider range of uses around engineering, such as architecture or other engineering specialities. FreeCAD is currently in a beta stage of development.



FreeCAD features tools similar to CATIA, Creo, Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks or Solid Edge, and therefore also falls into the category of 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 in order to extract design details from the 3D model to create 2D production drawings, but direct 2D drawing (like AutoCAD LT) is not the focus, neither are animation (like Blender) or organic shapes (like Maya, 3ds Max or Cinema 4D), although, thanks to its wide adaptability, FreeCAD might become useful in a much broader area than its current focus.

FreeCAD is intended to make use of other open-source libraries from the field of scientific computing. Among them are Open CASCADE (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.

There are moves to take FreeCAD into the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector and add building information modeling (BIM) functionality with the Arch Module.[1]

Supported file formats[edit]

Freecad's own main file format is FreeCAD Standard file format (.FCStd).[2] It is a standard zip file, that holds files in certain structure.[2] Document.xml file has all geometric and parametric objects definitions.[2] GuiDocument.xml then has visual representation details of objects.[2] Other files include brep-files for objects and thumbnail of drawing.[2]

Besides FreeCAD's own file format, files could be exchanged by the following file formats: DXF, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), STEP, IGES, STL (STereoLithography), OBJ (Wavefront), DAE (Collada), SCAD (OpenSCAD), IV (Inventor) and IFC.[3]

DWG support[edit]

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 an real open-source alternative to the source-available OpenDWG library 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,[4] it couldn't use the GNU LibreDWG library as GPLv2 and GPLv3 are essentially incompatible.[5] Open CASCADE technologies were contacted by Debian team in 2009, and 2012 got a reply that Open CASCADE technologies 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 too.[6]

As of the 2014 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.[7] However, LibreDWG has not been adopted. FreeCAD is able to import and export a limited subset[8] of the DWG format via the Teigha Converter (the former OpenDWG library).

Release history[edit]

Version Release date Information
Old version, no longer supported: 0.0.1 October 29, 2002 Initial Upload --> The birth of FreeCAD
Old version, no longer supported: 0.1 January 27, 2003
Old version, no longer supported: 0.2 August 9, 2005
Old version, no longer supported: 0.3 October 31, 2005
Old version, no longer supported: 0.4 January 15, 2006
Old version, no longer supported: 0.5 October 5, 2006
Old version, no longer supported: 0.6 February 27, 2007
Old version, no longer supported: 0.7 April 24, 2009
Old version, no longer supported: 0.8 July 10, 2009
Old version, no longer supported: 0.9 January 16, 2010
Old version, no longer supported: 0.10 July 24, 2010
Old version, no longer supported: 0.11 May 3, 2011 [9]
Old version, no longer supported: 0.12 November 20, 2011 [10]
Old version, no longer supported: 0.13 January 29, 2013 [11]
Old version, no longer supported: 0.14 July 1, 2014 license change to lgplv2+[12]
Current stable version: 0.15 April 8, 2015 Oculus Rift support [13]
Future release: 0.16 Current Developer Release
Old version
Older version, still supported
Latest version
Latest preview version
Future release



In English language:

  • Falck, Daniel; Collette, Brad (2012): FreeCAD [How-to]. Solid Modeling with the Power of Python, Packt Publishing, Birmingham, ISBN 978-1-84951-886-4.

In German language:

  • Gundermann, Thomas (2016): FreeCAD-Buch: (3D-)Konstruktion leicht gemacht, dpunkt.verlag GmbH, 1. Auflage, ISBN 978-3-86490-252-9.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Arch Module". FreeCAD wiki. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "File Format FCStd - FreeCAD Documentation". Retrieved 2015-09-03. 
  3. ^ "Feature list". FreeCAD wiki. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Larabel, Michael (2013-01-24). "FSF Wastes Away Another "High Priority" Project". Phoronix. Retrieved 2013-08-22. Both LibreCAD and FreeCAD both want to use LibreDWG and have patches available for supporting the DWG file format library, but can't integrate them. The programs have dependencies on the popular GPLv2 license while the Free Software Foundation will only let LibreDWG be licensed for GPLv3 use, not GPLv2. 
  5. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about the GNU Licenses – Is GPLv3 compatible with GPLv2?". The official site. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  6. ^ Prokoudine, Alexandre (2012-12-27). "LibreDWG drama: the end or the new beginning?". Retrieved 2013-08-23. [...]the unfortunate situation with support for DWG files in free CAD software via LibreDWG. We feel, by now it ought to be closed. We have the final answer from FSF. [...] "We are not going to change the license." 
  7. ^ "license". 2014. Retrieved 2015-03-25. Licences used in FreeCAD - FreeCAD uses two different licenses, one for the application itself, and one for the documentation: Lesser General Public Licence, version 2 or superior (LGPL2+) […] Open Publication Licence 
  8. ^ Release notes 0.14"The import and export of dwg files has therefore the same limitations as the dxf format."
  9. ^ "Release notes 011". Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  10. ^ "Release notes 012". Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  11. ^ "Release notes 013". Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  12. ^ "Release notes 0.14". Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  13. ^ "Release notes 015". Retrieved 17 June 2015. 

External links[edit]