FreeCAD

Before this winter, one of the bigger questions in the back of my mind was how I’d occupy my free time for a full year at Pole. As it turns out, there hasn’t been nearly as much free time as I would’ve guessed, and when it happens, it’s not hard to find things to do.

Over the last month or so, I’ve finally gotten involved in a project that I’ve wanted to work on for a while. FreeCAD is an open source 3-D Computer Aided Design package, which seems to be on track to be a very useful tool. At this point, 3-D CAD is a big gap in available open source software, and I think that FreeCAD stands a good chance of closing that gap.

With 3-D printers becoming more common, there should be a growing audience for this kind of software, and I’ve got a vested interest for whenever I finally settle down and put together a little machine shop. FreeCAD seems close to the point where it works well enough for most of what hobbyists need in a 3-D CAD package, and I’m excited to see what happens when it becomes a commonly used program.

freecad-bb-tool-snapshot

The bottom bracket tool from several posts back

At this point, my contributions have involved GUI improvements, and in working on them I’ve got a growing list of more things that need to be done. If I run out of GUI things to work on, then it’ll be a coin toss between working on the FEM or CAM module.

My biggest project so far involved working on the little icons next to the green lines below. The icons represent “constraints”, which in this case make the top and bottom lines horizontal, the ends of the lines on the blue circle, the flats 1 inch apart, and the green lines the same length.

freecad-constraint-icon-snapshot

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About ianrrees

Nerdy guy.
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2 Responses to FreeCAD

  1. sliptonic says:

    Hi Ian, Interesting blog. There’s a huge amount of GUI work needed in the CAM workbench. In fact, it’s probably the weakest area right now. I’ve been following its development for a couple years and it has really stalled lately. Getting the GUI to be more freecad standard might be a way to jumpstart active development.

    • ianrrees says:

      Thanks! We are getting pretty close to opening up the station here, so I’ll probably not be doing much FreeCAD work in the next couple months, but will try to take a look at the CAM workbench at some point.

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