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Original author(s)Jürgen Riegel, Werner Mayer, Yorik van Havre[1][a]
Initial release29 October 2002;
20 years ago
Stable release
0.20.1[2] Edit this on Wikidata / 10 August 2022;
3 months ago
 (10 August 2022)
Written inC++, Python
Operating systemLinux
Type3D Modeling, CAD, CAM, BIM, FEM
Interior of 3D house
Arduino board imported from Eagle PCB software

FreeCAD is a general-purpose parametric 3D computer-aided design (CAD) modeler and a building information modeling (BIM) software application with finite element method (FEM) support.[3] 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, FreeCAD has 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, and neither are animation or 3D model manipulation (like Blender, Maya, or Cinema 4D). However, the modular nature of FreeCAD allows the user to adapt its workflow for such environments via the use of plugins.

FreeCAD uses open-source libraries from the field of computing science; among them are Open CASCADE Technology[4][5] (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.[6]

There are moves to expand FreeCAD in the architecture, electrical, and construction (AEC) engineering sectors and to add building information modeling (BIM) functionality with the Arch Module.[7]

As of late 2020, 3D Models searcher of CADENAS called is integrated into FreeCAD.[8]

Supported file formats[edit]

FreeCAD's own main file format is FreeCAD Standard file format (.FCStd).[9] It is a standard zip file that holds files in a certain structure.[9] Document.xml file has all geometric and parametric objects definitions.[9] GuiDocument.xml then has visual representation details of objects.[9] Other files include brep-files for objects and thumbnail of drawing.[9]

Besides FreeCAD's own file format, files can be exported and imported in DXF, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), STEP, IGES, STL (STereoLithography), OBJ (Wavefront), DAE (Collada), SCAD (OpenSCAD), IV (Inventor) and IFC.[10]

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 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,[11] it couldn't use the GNU LibreDWG library as GPLv2 and GPLv3 are essentially incompatible.[12][13] 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.[14]

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.[15] However, LibreDWG has not been adopted. FreeCAD is able to import and export a limited subset[16] of the DWG format via the ODA File Converter (the former OpenDWG library).

Promotions during events[edit]

Yorik van Havre presenting FreeCAD at FISL 16 in 2015

FreeCAD was notably presented at FISL 16 in 2015, in Porto Alegre,[17] as well as at the Libre Graphics Meeting in London in 2016.[18] 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.[19]

Release history[edit]

Version Release date Information
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[20]
Old version, no longer maintained: 0.12 November 20, 2011 architecture Module[21]
Old version, no longer maintained: 0.13 January 29, 2013 ship design module, openscad module, 3D mice support[22]
Old version, no longer maintained: 0.14 July 1, 2014 License changed to LGPLv2+, spreadsheet module, render to LuxCoreRender[16]
Old version, no longer maintained: 0.15 April 8, 2015 Oculus Rift support, updated ifc importer in Architecture module[23]
Old version, no longer maintained: 0.16 April 18, 2016 FEM workbench, path module[24]
Old version, no longer maintained: 0.17 April 6, 2018 add on manager, surface module, tech draw module[25]
Old version, no longer maintained: 0.18 March 12, 2019 new start view, extended arch module, many improved modules[26] In 0.18.5 Addon-Manager broken, so 0.18.4 is stable release.
Old version, no longer maintained: 0.19 March 20, 2021 modules to Python 3 and Qt5 mostly ported,[27] actual 0.19.4
Current stable version: 0.20 June 14, 2022 completely rewritten Addon Manager, more than 30 new tools in TechDraw, persistent section cuts, many improvements of existing tools[28]
Future release: 0.21/1.0 2023 development version with weekly builds[29][30]
Old version
Older version, still maintained
Latest version
Latest preview version
Future release

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jürgen Riegel no longer participates in the active development of FreeCAD since the end of 2015.


  1. ^ "FreeCAD History".
  2. ^; publication date: 10 August 2022; retrieved: 28 August 2022.
  3. ^ "Testing FEM Workbench of FreeCAD". Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  4. ^ "Feature list - FreeCAD Documentation". Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  5. ^ "Open Cascade at FOSDEM 2020".
  6. ^ Okoi, Martins (December 1, 2017). "FreeCAD – A 3D Modeling and Design Software for Linux". FOSSMint. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  7. ^ "Arch Module". FreeCAD wiki. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  8. ^ " Directly Integrated into FreeCAD". Digital Engineering. 2020-12-21. Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  9. ^ a b c d e "File Format FCStd - FreeCAD Documentation". Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  10. ^ "Feature list". FreeCAD wiki. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Prokoudine, Alexandre (26 January 2012). "What's up with DWG adoption in free software?". Archived from the original on 2016-11-09. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  13. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about the GNU Licenses – Is GPLv3 compatible with GPLv2?". The official site. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  14. ^ Prokoudine, Alexandre (2012-12-27). "LibreDWG drama: the end or the new beginning?". Archived from the original on 2016-11-09. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
  15. ^ "License". 2014. Archived from the original on 2016-12-04. Retrieved 2015-03-25.
  16. ^ a b "Release notes 0.14 - FreeCAD Documentation".
  17. ^ van Havre, Yorik (2015). "FreeCAD at FISL16" (PDF).
  18. ^ van Havre, Yorik (2016). "Yorik van Havre at LGM 2016" (PDF).
  19. ^ "Open-source design ecosystems around FreeCAD". Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  20. ^ "Release notes 0.11 - FreeCAD Documentation".
  21. ^ "Release notes 0.12 - FreeCAD Documentation".
  22. ^ "Release notes 0.13 - FreeCAD Documentation".
  23. ^ "Release notes 0.15". Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Release notes 0.16". Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  25. ^ "Release notes 0.17". Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  26. ^ "Release notes 0.18". Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  27. ^ "Release notes 0.19". Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  28. ^ "Release notes 0.20". Retrieved 17 June 2022.
  29. ^ "Release notes 1.0". Retrieved 17 June 2022.
  30. ^ "FreeCAD 1.0 Development Cycle".

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]