Getting started

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Revision as of 21:45, 8 September 2013 by Yorik (talk | contribs) (Installing)
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Foreword

FreeCAD is a 3D CAD/CAE parametric modeling application. It is primarily made for mechanical design, but also serves all other uses where you need to model 3D objects with precision and control over modeling history.

FreeCAD is still in the early stages of development, so, although it already offers you a large (and growing) list of features, much is still missing, specially comparing it to commercial solutions, and you might not find it developed enough yet for use in production environment. Still, there is a fast-growing community of enthusiastic users, and you can already find many examples of quality projects developed with FreeCAD.

Like all open-source projects, the FreeCAD project is not a one-way work delivered to you by its developers. It depends much on its community to grow, gain features, and stabilize (get bugs fixed). So don't forget this when starting to use FreeCAD, if you like it, you can directly influence and help the project!

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 (.msi), Ubuntu & Debian (.deb) openSUSE (.rpm) and Mac OSX. As FreeCAD is open-source, if you are adventurous, but want to have a look at the brand-new features being developed right now, you can also grab the source code and compile FreeCAD yourself.

Exploring FreeCAD

Freecad-interface.jpg


  1. The 3D view, showing the contents of your document
  2. The tree view, which shows the hierarchy and construction history of all the objects in your document
  3. The properties editor, which allows you to view and modify properties of the selected object(s)
  4. The output window, which is where FreeCAD prints messages, warnings and errors
  5. The python console, where all the commands executed by FreeCAD are printed, and where you can enter python code
  6. The workbench selector, where you select the active workbench


The main concept behind the FreeCAD interface is that it is separated into workbenches. A workbench is a collection of tools suited for a specific task, such as working with meshes, or drawing 2D objects, or constrained sketches. You can switch the current workbench with the workbench selector (6). You can customize the tools included in each workbench, add tools from other workbenches or even self-created tools, that we call macros. There is also a generic workbench which gathers the most commonly used tools from other workbenches, called the conplete workbench.

When you start FreeCAD for the first time, you are presented with the start center:


Startcenter.jpg


The Start Center allows you to quickly jump to one of the most common workbenches, open one of the recent files, or see the latest news from the FreeCAD world. You can change the default workbench in the preferences.

Navigating in the 3D space

FreeCAD has four different navigation modes available, that change the way you use your mouse to interact with the objects in the 3D view and the view itself. One of them is specifically made for touchpads, where the middle mouse button is not used. The following table describes the default mode, called CAD Navigation (You can quickly change the current navigation mode by right-clicking on an empty area of the 3D view):


{{{Select_name}}} {{{Pan_name}}} {{{Zoom_name}}} {{{Rotate_view_name}}} {{{Rotate_view_alt_name}}}
Hand cursor.png Pan cursor.png Zoom cursor.png Rotate cursor.png Rotate cursor.png
Mouse LMB.svg Mouse MMB hold.svg Mouse MMB rotate.svg Mouse MMB+LMB hold.svg Mouse MMB+RMB hold.svg
{{{Select_text}}} {{{Pan_text}}} {{{Zoom_text}}} {{{Rotate_view_text}}} {{{Rotate_view_alt_text}}}
{{{Ctrl}}}+Mouse RMB.svg {{{Ctrl}}}+{{{Shift}}}+Mouse RMB.svg {{{Shift}}}+Mouse RMB.svg
{{{Pan_mode_text}}} {{{Zoom_mode_text}}} {{{Rotate_view_mode_text}}}


You also have several view presets (top view, front view, etc) available in the View menu and on the View toolbar, and by numeric shortcuts (1, 2, etc...)

Workbench Draft.png 2D Drafting


This template is now obsolete and is directly include in the original page Draft_Module

All adding or modification must be done in the original page Draft_Module

2018/05/28

Drawing objects

These are tools for creating objects.

  • Draft Line.png Line: Draws a line segment between 2 points
  • Draft Wire.png Wire: Draws a line made of multiple line segments (polyline)
  • Draft Circle.png Circle: Draws a circle from center and radius
  • Draft Arc.png Arc: Draws an arc segment from center, radius, start angle and end angle
  • Draft Ellipse.png Ellipse: Draws an ellipse from two corner points
  • Draft Polygon.png Polygon: Draws a regular polygon from a center and a radius
  • Draft Rectangle.png Rectangle: Draws a rectangle from 2 opposite points
  • Draft Text.png Text: Draws a multi-line text annotation
  • Draft Dimension.png Dimension: Draws a dimension annotation
  • Draft BSpline.png BSpline: Draws a B-Spline from a series of points
  • Draft Point.png Point: Inserts a point object
  • Draft ShapeString.png ShapeString: The ShapeString tool inserts a compound shape representing a text string at a given point in the current document
  • Draft Facebinder.png Facebinder: Creates a new object from selected faces on existing objects
  • Draft BezCurve.png Bezier Curve: Draws a Bezier curve from a series of points
  • Draft Label.png Label: Places a label with an arrow pointing to a selected element introduced in version 0.17

Modifying objects

These are tools for modifying existing objects. They work on selected objects, but if no object is selected, you will be invited to select one.

  • Draft Move.png Move: Moves object(s) from one location to another
  • Draft Rotate.png Rotate: Rotates object(s) from a start angle to an end angle
  • Draft Offset.png Offset: Moves segments of an object about a certain distance
  • Draft Trimex.png Trim/Extend (Trimex): Trims or extends an object
  • Draft Upgrade.png Upgrade: Joins objects into a higher-level object
  • Draft Downgrade.png Downgrade: Explodes objects into lower-level objects
  • Draft Scale.png Scale: Scales selected object(s) around a base point
  • Draft PutOnSheet.png Drawing: Writes selected objects to a Drawing sheet
  • Draft Edit.png Edit: Edits a selected object
  • Draft WireToBSpline.png Wire to BSpline: Converts a wire to a BSpline and vice-versa
  • Draft AddPoint.png Add point: Adds a point to a wire or BSpline
  • Draft DelPoint.png Delete point: Deletes a point from a wire or BSpline
  • Draft Shape2DView.png Shape 2D View: Creates a 2D object which is a flattened 2D view of another 3D object
  • Draft Draft2Sketch.png Draft to Sketch: Converts a Draft object to Sketch and vice-versa
  • Draft Array.png Array: Creates a polar or rectangular array from selected objects
  • Draft PathArray.png Path Array: Creates an array of objects by placing the copies along a path
  • Draft Clone.png Clone: Clones the selected objects
  • Draft Mirror.png Mirror: Mirrors the selected objects
  • Draft Stretch.png Stretch: Stretches the selected objects introduced in version 0.17

Utility tools

Additional tools available via right-click context menu, depending on the selected objects.

Preferences


Workbench Part.png Creating 3D Parts

Template:Part Tools


Exporting to 2D Drawings


This template is now obsolete and is directly include in the original page Drawing Module

All adding or modification must be done in the original page Drawing Module

2018/05/28

These are tools for creating, configuring and exporting 2D drawing sheets

  • Drawing New.png Open scalable vector graphic: Opens a drawing sheet previously saved as an SVG file
  • Drawing Landscape A3.png New A3 landscape drawing: Creates a new drawing sheet from FreeCAD's default A3 template
  • Drawing View.png Insert a view: Inserts a view of the selected object in the active drawing sheet
  • Drawing Annotation.png Annotation: Adds an annotation to the current drawing sheet
  • Drawing Clip.png Clip: Adds a clip group to the current drawing sheet
  • Drawing Openbrowser.png Open Browser: Opens a preview of the current sheet in the browser
  • Drawing Orthoviews.png Ortho Views: Automatically creates orthographic views of an object on the current drawing sheet
  • Drawing Symbol.png Symbol: Adds the contents of a SVG file as a symbol on the current drawing sheet
  • Drawing DraftView.png Draft View: Inserts a special Draft view of the selected object in the current drawing sheet
  • Drawing SpreadsheetView.png Spreadsheet View: Inserts a view of a selected spreadsheet in the current drawing sheet
  • Drawing Save.png Save sheet: Saves the current sheet as a SVG file
  • Project Shape: Creates a projection of the selected object (Source) in the 3D view.


Exporting to external renderers

This page will be deleted by an administrator!

Reason for deletion: No pages link to this template so it can be deleted. The tools have been integrated into the main document Raytracing Workbench.


Scripting

And finally, one of the most powerful features of FreeCAD is the scripting environment. From the integrated python console (or from any other external Python script), you can gain access to almost any part of FreeCAD, create or modify geometry, modify the representation of those objects in the 3D scene or access and modify the FreeCAD interface. Python scripting can also be used in macros, which provide an easy method to create custom commands.


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