- 1 Choose Your Operating System
- 2 Installing additional contents
- 3 External software supported by FreeCAD
Choose Your Operating System
FreeCAD is a truly multi-platform application, developed with the world-renowned Qt framework. What that means is that FreeCAD looks and acts the same on Windows, Linux and Mac. However, the installation procedure is a little different for each Operating system. Choose your Operating system below for more details about how to install FreeCAD.
|Install on Windows||Install on Linux/Unix||Install on Mac|
Installing additional contents
The offline documentation is not shipped with all installers and available as a separate package. See here for Installing a helpfile.
Apart from the default workbenches bundled with FreeCAD, there is a growing collection of useful additional workbenches and modules made by community members available on the web. Several efforts are in progress to gather them and make them available to you in a convenient way. They are listed below.
Since these workbenches are not part of the official FreeCAD package and not supported by the FreeCAD team, you should read the information provided on each of the addons page above before installing any of them, to make sure you know what you are installing. Also, bug reports and feature requests should be made directly on each addon page.
The FreeCAD-addons repository
This is a gathering of useful workbenches, using the git submodules system, which allows keeping constantly updated contents. The FreeCAD-addons repository can be found at https://github.com/FreeCAD/FreeCAD-addons . This repository features an installer macro that can be launched from inside FreeCAD, that will list, download and install any of the addons automatically. As of FreeCAD 0.17, the addons can be managed directly from the Tools menu. There is no need to install the macro previously used.
With older version of FreeCAD, to install the installer macro:
- Right-click on addons_installer.FCMacro and choose Save as...
- Place the downloaded macro in your FreeCAD Macros folder. The FreeCAD Macros folder location is indicated in menu Macros -> Macros -> User macros location:
- Restart FreeCAD. The addons installer will now be listed in menu Macro -> Macros and can be launched by selecting it then clicking the Execute button:
The pluginloader addon
The plugin loader is a much more elaborate way to install and manage additional content for freecad. Install it with the method above, or following the instructions on the pluginloader page.
External workbenches, when they are fully programmed in python (which is the case of all of them when this was written) can always easily be installed manually, simply by downloading them (usually clicking the **Download ZIP** button found on top of each addon page when they are hosted on github), and placing them in your user's FreeCAD/Mod folder (or in the Macros folder if they are macros). Refer to the instructions on each addon page for complete instructions.
Notes for users with 32-bit system and FreeCAD 0.16.6706
After attempts to install, the additional Workbenches may not be available. In this case
- hold the Report panel open while starting FreeCAD, and read the error
- see this forum thread: http://forum.freecadweb.org/viewtopic.php?t=12839#p102933
External software supported by FreeCAD
FreeCAD supports a whole lot of external software packages out of the box. This means, you just need to install the software and it will be automatically available, the next time you start it. There's no need to recompile it. This section aims to provide a list of all such software packages, together with some information of where it's used in FreeCAD and where you can grab them.
A proprietary, closed source application for exchanging various file formats used in CAD. You can use it to convert proprietary, closed formats into a format which is accessible by FreeCAD. The homepage is at https://cadexchanger.com/ where you can download an evaluation version or purchase a license for the application.
CalculiX is a suite of two finite element packages. One, CalculiX GraphiX, or calculix-cgx, is a GUI frontend to display the results of the second package, CalculiX CrunchiX, or calculix-ccx, a FEM solver. Only the latter one is supported by FreeCAD. It can be accessed from the FEM Workbench through Solve->Solver CalculiX. There's a standard and experimental solver supported by FreeCAD. CalculiX can be downloaded from http://calculix.de
FreeCAD has a native importer and exporter for DXF files, programmed in C++. Currently this importer does not implement all features of the DXF format. If you rely on a not yet implemented feature, you enable an older python based importer/exporter through Edit->Preferences->Import-Export by activating the Use legacy python importer option. You can then choose to let FreeCAD automatically download the needed files or you can grab them from https://github.com/yorikvanhavre/Draft-dxf-importer. The chosen importer / exporter is used by selecting File->Import or File->Export and choosing the AutoDesk DXF 2D file format.
Elmer is a multiphysical simulation software, which was open sourced in 2005. In FreeCAD its Grid and Solver modules can be used by the FEM workbench through Solve->Solver Elmer. The projects homepage is at https://www.elmerfem.org and it can be downloaded from GitHub at https://github.com/ElmerCSC/elmerfem/releases.
FEniCS is a computing platform to solve partial differential equations (PDEs), which are widely used when solving FEM problems. As such it can be used by the FEM workbench. FreeCAD can import and export FEniCS meshes through File->Import and File->Export by selecting the FEM mesh fenics file format. The homepage of FEniCS is at https://fenicsproject.org.
A python library which is used to interact with Git repositories. The feature is currently in development status in FreeCAD. The Addon Manager can use this library to import addons from a Git repository. The project is hosted on GitHub at https://github.com/gitpython-developers/GitPython.
GraphViz is an open source graph visualization software. In FreeCAD it is used to generate dependency graphs through Tools->Dependency Graph... Its homepage is at https://www.graphviz.org
IfcOpenShell is a library for working with the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) file format used in architectural design. It can be accessed from the arch workbench through Arch->Utilities->Ifc Explorer. It's homepage is at http://ifcopenshell.org
LuxCoreRender aka LuxRender is one of two currently supported render engines in FreeCAD. It is used through the workflow on the raytracing workbench. Currently only the old and abandoned LuxRender-1.x is supported by FreeCAD. If you want help to update to the new LuxCoreRender-2, you might want to get in touch with the Raytracing_project team. Downloads for LuxRender-1.6 can be grabbed from the LuxCoreRender GitHub release page at https://github.com/LuxCoreRender/LuxCore/releases. The homepage for the current LuxCoreRender project is at https://www.luxcorerender.org.
ODA File Converter
The ODA file converter is a proprietary, closed source, binary and freely available application to import and export DWG and DXF file formats. In FreeCAD it can be used from the File->Import and File->Export menus, when you select the AutoDesk DWG 2D file type. It can be downloaded from https://www.opendesign.com/guestfiles/oda_file_converter.
A library for Field Operation and Manipulation (FOAM), which is needed by Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations. As such, OpenFOAM is needed by the FEM workbench of FreeCAD. You can access it through the Model->Fluid constraints submenu. The project resides at https://openfoam.org.
The Programmers Solid 3D CAD Modeller is another CAD software, based on Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG). This means, it can not handle meshes, but operates exclusively on solid geometry. FreeCAD can import and export files created from OpenSCAD through the File->Import and File->Export menus by the selecting the OpenSCAD CSG format or the OpenSCAD format file types. You can get OpenSCAD from https://www.openscad.org.
POVRay is well-known raytracer which can render photorealistic images. It is one of two raytracers currently supported by FreeCAD in the raytracing workbench. Its usage is described on the raytracing module page. You can download POVRay from https://www.povray.org.
Pycollada aka python-collada is a python library to read and write COLLADA documents, a standard for exchanging 3D scenes and elements. If it is installed you can im- and export scenes to and from COLLADA files through the File->Import and File->Export commands by selecting the COLLADA file type. The project is hosted through GitHub at https://pycollada.github.io/ and you can download the releases at https://github.com/pycollada/pycollada/releases/
Z88 is another FEM program, containing a mesher, solver and converters, which can be used by FreeCAD's FEM workbench. It can be accessed through Solve-Solver Z88. Z88 distributes several packages, which all freely available, but are closed source. The Z88OS however, published under an open source license, is what is needed by FreeCAD. The homepage is at https://en.z88.de/. Z88OS is also hosted on GitHub at https://github.com/LSCAD/Z88OS if you want to compile it yourself.