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FreeCAD: The Free Alternative To AutoCAD

If you are looking for an accessible alternative to AutoCAD, FreeCAD is the right software, which allows users to draw 3D objects and access many features. In the sea of ​​programs that offer 3D modeling services, FreeCAD is one of the best free 3D drawing software. For those who don’t want to make a cheap investment and avoid buying AutoCAD, FreeCAD is an excellent free alternative. 

It is a cross-platform open source program that can be installed on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Users who decide to use it can create fantastic 2D technical drawings and 3D modeling for CAD, MCAD, CAx, CAE, and PLM, just as they would with a much more expensive program like AutoCAD. Those who use this software can rely on open-source libraries. FreeCAD is compatible with Open Inventor and based on Open CASCADE, a platform composed exclusively of libraries and components used above all for developing free CAD programs such as FreeCAD.

The Functions Of FreeCAD

Although it is possible to create 2D drawings, this is not the software’s primary purpose. The program was born as a 3D modeler, but thanks to its great flexibility, it is also used by users for many other uses, including animation and modification of meshes. Thanks to the geometric kernel based on Open CASCADE, FreeCAD allows you to perform even complex operations on complex projects. STEP and IGES files are supported, and a large variety of geometric figures are available. The parametric modeler allows you to modify and customize all FreeCAD objects. 

Each action that is carried out can be viewed and rechecked thanks to the operations tree, which also allows you to cancel and repeat them. You can add new objects with one click or program them entirely in Python. FreeCAD allows users to use many different plugins thanks to its modular architecture. You can modify the objects created within the application or change the interface of the application itself. The program also allows you to import and export various formats, including IGES, OBJ, STL, DAE, and IFC. Users can try their hand at rendering thanks to a specially dedicated module that allows you to export 3D models and render them with external software

The Features Of FreeCAD

FreeCAD on your computer does not weigh down the device because the program takes up little space in the device’s memory. The FreeCAD interface groups all the tools collected in workbenches, i.e., work environments. Thanks to this structure, users can only view the tools necessary to carry out each specific action. This makes the work area cleaner and easier to use. When the user opens FreeCAD, the software screen displayed is only the initial base, which will be followed by all the modules loaded only when the user has to use them. 

Modules can be said to be similar to plugins, where all tools and geometries are stored. Restoring a previous project version is easy and possible through the undo/redo tool that allows you to directly access the history of actions and cancel multiple notifications simultaneously. Suppose you are familiar with the programming language. In that case, it is interesting to know that a Python programming environment has been incorporated into FreeCAD, which allows users to access a Python editor through which they can program various parameters.

The FreeCAD Interface

Once landed on the software’s main page, the user can notice how the FreeCAD screen is divided into about eleven sections. One part is dedicated to the main View, which can have other tabs and windows inside. Also in the central area is the 3D View, which is incorporated into the main page.  The upper part consists of the tree view and the action panel. The 3D View is an essential part of the FreeCAD interface. Users can view the same object differently or open multiple documents simultaneously.

The combined View has two separate tabs: on the one hand, the Template tab offers the contents and structure of the document in the upper part, while in the lower leg, there are the parameters of the selected object. The parameters are, in turn, divided into two categories, namely the Data, which are the properties that affect the geometry of the object itself, and the View, which indicates how the geometry appears on the screen.

On the Actions tab, users must specify the values ​​for their tool. For example, if you are using the Line tool, you can enter the line length to be drawn here. The Report panel is usually hidden, but it is helpful to consult it to keep an eye on all the information and any error warnings within the platform. Finally, you can edit the document using the programming language with the Python console. By opening this panel, you can see the codes that reflect the operations done in FreeCAD in real-time, allowing users who do not know it to learn the basics of Python.

Uses Of FreeCAD

FreeCAD has been specially designed to create 3D models in the fields of engineering, mechanical engineering, and in the field of architecture. Despite this, there are many areas in which FreeCAD can be used. From creating drawings to forming three-dimensional objects and machine control files to rendering and animation design. Each of these environments has its dedicated tools. The software also allows you to work with extreme simplicity thanks to the possibility of switching from one domain to another at any time, even within the same project.


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