Difference between revisions of "Getting started"

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(Exploring FreeCAD)
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First of all (if not done already) download and install FreeCAD. See the [[Download]] page for information about current versions and updates. There are install packages ready for Windows, Ubuntu and openSUSE.
 
First of all (if not done already) download and install FreeCAD. See the [[Download]] page for information about current versions and updates. There are install packages ready for Windows, Ubuntu and openSUSE.
  
===Exploring FreeCAD===  
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===Exploring FreeCAD===
Several modules of FreeCAD contain already enough functionality to produce and modify geometry. To import and manipulate meshes, head to the [[Mesh Module]]. To get into the CAD capabilities of FreeCAD visit the [[Part Module]] page. There is also a 2d [[Draft Module]] availible as a plugin. As said above, those modules have at the moment very few elements of user interface (icons & buttons), so most functionality is availible only by [[Scripting|python scripting]].
 
  
Python scripting in FreeCAD is very easy, you can get an idea about it by reading [[FreeCAD Scripting Basics]].
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FreeCAD is a general all-purpose 3D modeling application, focused on mechanical engineering and related areas, such as other engineering specialties or architecture. It is conceived as a platform for developing any kind of 3D application, but also for doing very specific tasks. For that purpose, its interface is divided into a serie of [[Workbenches]]. Workbenches allow to change the interface contents to display all and only the tools necessary for a specific task, or group of tasks.
To know what you can do with the [[Mesh Module]] by scripting, read the [[Mesh Scripting]] page.
 
In a similar way, the [[Topological data scripting]] page shows how to access and use the [[Part Module]].
 
The [[Draft Module]] already has a User Interface, and can be used without scripting.
 
  
====Simple exercises that can already be done in FreeCAD====
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The FreeCAD interface can therefore be described as a very simple container, with a menu bar, a 3D view area, and a couple of side panels for displaying the scene contents or object properties. All the contents of these panels can be changes depnding on the workbench.
*'''Importing existing files''': The mesh, part and draft modules are already able to import several file formats. Mesh formats are imported by the [[Mesh Module]], advancd 3D CAD formats are imported by the [[Part Module]], and 2D formats are imported by the [[Draft Module]]. By simply using the ''File > Open'' menu entry, you'll be able to check which formats are currently supported.
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*'''Creating new geometry''': Each of these modules already have simple UI commands for creating basic primitive elements like cubes, planes, lines or circles. Try changing the workbench to one of the above mentioned modules, and see what tools become available.
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Several workbenches of FreeCAD contain already enough functionality to produce and modify geometry: The [[Mesh Module|Mesh workbench]], for example, is designed to handle mesh objects. The [[Part Module|Part workbench]] gives you access to a more powerful CAD kernel. There is also a 2d [[Draft Module|Draft workbench]] available as a plugin.  
*'''Modifying geometry''': Learn how to move, size and turn elements, add and subtract them to gain more complex structures.
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*'''Setting the views''': During construction, you will probably want to see the result from different viewpoints. Learn how to switch views to get a thorough picture of what you are constructing.
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Some things you can do with the Mesh workbench:
 +
* Import and export meshes in several file formats
 +
* Convert Part objects into meshes
 +
* Analyse curvature, faces, and check if a mesh can be safely converted into a solid
 +
* Close holes or remove faces of meshes
 +
* Union, subtract and intersect meshes
 +
* Create mesh primitives, like cubes, spheres, cones or cylinders
 +
* Cut meshes along a line
 +
 
 +
Some things you can do with the Part workbench:
 +
* Create primitive geometry like Plane, Box, Cylinder, Cone, Sphere, Ellipsoid and Torus
 +
* Import shapes from other file formats
 +
* Union, subtract, intersect shapes
 +
* Extrude flat shapes
 +
* Fillet edges of shapes
 +
 
 +
Some things you can do with the Draft workbench:
 +
* Create lines, circles, arcs, and rectangles
 +
* Change those objects into flat shapes
 +
* Move, rotate, offset, trim, or extend shapes
 +
* Import and export 2D drawings to other file formats
 +
 
 +
=== Scripting in FreeCAD ===
 +
 
 +
Since FreeCAD is still in alpha stage, those workbenches have at the moment very few elements of user interface (icons & buttons), but much more functionality is available by [[Scripting|python scripting]]. Each FreeCAD workbench is also a python module, that can be loaded and manipulated from the built-in python interpreter.
 +
 
 +
Python scripting in FreeCAD is very easy, you can get an idea about it by reading [[FreeCAD Scripting Basics]]. To know what you can do with the [[Mesh Module]] by scripting, read the [[Mesh Scripting]] page. In a similar way, the [[Topological data scripting]] page shows how to access and use the [[Part Module]].

Revision as of 23:23, 9 March 2009

Note: FreeCAD is still in ALPHA state and not in shape for end user usage


Foreword

FreeCAD is a CAD/CAE parametric modeling application. It is still in early stage of development, so don't expect to be able to use it to produce work already. But, if you are curious about what FreeCAD looks like and what features are being developed, you are welcome to download it and give it a try. At the moment, much functionality is already present, but not much user interface has been created for it. This means that if you know a bit of python, you will already be able to produce and modify geometry relatively easily. If not, you will probably find that FreeCAD still has few to offer to you. But, be patient, this is expected to change soon.

And if after testing you have feedback, ideas or opinions, please share it with us on the FreeCAD discussion forum!

Installing

First of all (if not done already) download and install FreeCAD. See the Download page for information about current versions and updates. There are install packages ready for Windows, Ubuntu and openSUSE.

Exploring FreeCAD

FreeCAD is a general all-purpose 3D modeling application, focused on mechanical engineering and related areas, such as other engineering specialties or architecture. It is conceived as a platform for developing any kind of 3D application, but also for doing very specific tasks. For that purpose, its interface is divided into a serie of Workbenches. Workbenches allow to change the interface contents to display all and only the tools necessary for a specific task, or group of tasks.

The FreeCAD interface can therefore be described as a very simple container, with a menu bar, a 3D view area, and a couple of side panels for displaying the scene contents or object properties. All the contents of these panels can be changes depnding on the workbench.

Several workbenches of FreeCAD contain already enough functionality to produce and modify geometry: The Mesh workbench, for example, is designed to handle mesh objects. The Part workbench gives you access to a more powerful CAD kernel. There is also a 2d Draft workbench available as a plugin.

Some things you can do with the Mesh workbench:

  • Import and export meshes in several file formats
  • Convert Part objects into meshes
  • Analyse curvature, faces, and check if a mesh can be safely converted into a solid
  • Close holes or remove faces of meshes
  • Union, subtract and intersect meshes
  • Create mesh primitives, like cubes, spheres, cones or cylinders
  • Cut meshes along a line

Some things you can do with the Part workbench:

  • Create primitive geometry like Plane, Box, Cylinder, Cone, Sphere, Ellipsoid and Torus
  • Import shapes from other file formats
  • Union, subtract, intersect shapes
  • Extrude flat shapes
  • Fillet edges of shapes

Some things you can do with the Draft workbench:

  • Create lines, circles, arcs, and rectangles
  • Change those objects into flat shapes
  • Move, rotate, offset, trim, or extend shapes
  • Import and export 2D drawings to other file formats

Scripting in FreeCAD

Since FreeCAD is still in alpha stage, those workbenches have at the moment very few elements of user interface (icons & buttons), but much more functionality is available by python scripting. Each FreeCAD workbench is also a python module, that can be loaded and manipulated from the built-in python interpreter.

Python scripting in FreeCAD is very easy, you can get an idea about it by reading FreeCAD Scripting Basics. To know what you can do with the Mesh Module by scripting, read the Mesh Scripting page. In a similar way, the Topological data scripting page shows how to access and use the Part Module.