By Xiang-Yang Lu
FreeCAD- a free software for design
FreeCAD, a name where you can tell that the software comes free. Recently, a person that goes by Jo Hinchliffe wrote a 103-page manual for users of FreeCAD, titled FreeCAD for Makers. The book centers on the use of FreeCAD for creation, including techniques for 3D printing and laser engraving and cutting. Download here for free- hackspace.raspberrypi.com/books/freecad
The manual is published in co-branding with HackSpace, a publication for Makers. The book serves as a stepping stone for more Makers to learn about FreeCAD. HackSpace publications to come in the future will also include feature articles for continuous learning of more technologies and techniques, such as 3D-printing and woodworking designs.
In addition to its basic design tools, FreeCAD can also run more designs through plug-ins. FreeCAD has its own way of calling plug-ins, “Workbench.” There are currently many Workbenches that can be used to design printed circuit boards (PCB), pipes, buildings, etc.
These extra features can be a way to advertise HackSpace magazine. The digital version of HackSpace magazine is free for download, while hardcopies cost around £5 per issue.
To better understand FreeCAD, we have also installed this software for trial. FreeCAD is compatible to systems from Windows, Linux, Mac and others. The 64-bit Windows version requires about 431MB for download, while installation requires 1.9GB of hard drive space.
Should you need additional Workbench features, you can select “Tools” and “Addon Manager” for a menu with various Workbenches available. As of September 2022, there have been more than 90 new functions available.
In addition, when you install the plug-ins for the first time, there will also be an official reminder from FreeCAD, as many plug-ins are not from FreeCAD, so make sure you check again when you add on any new features.
In addition to this free manual, the official FreeCAD website also provides documents and tutorials for your reference. The documents are catalogued by MediWiki at wiki.freecadweb.org. They come in various languages, but there are few materials in Chinese.
Since most of the teaching materials are in English, we have also tried to look up for other information that are more accessible. We found that some YouTubers have published some teaching materials in Chinese, and there are also some resources ready on HackMD.
FreeCAD Modeling Tutorial:
- [Tutorial] 3D-drawings using FreeCAD, by SABLE CNC Studio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDoIckD3n2M.
- 3D-modeling using FreeCad by Yeh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPkphyjS0XY.
- FreeCAD teaching video by 9itube: https://www.9itube.com/tag/freecad%E6%95%99%E5%AD%B8pdf/1
- FreeCAD learning resources: https://hackmd.io/@openlabtaipei/HJ7iwqQS8
- FreeCAD Group for Chinese Users: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1287242437973484/.
Since 2002, FreeCAD has been trying for different improvements, but the number of versions is still around 0.20. Generally speaking, the official version is 1.0. It would be better if more people are willing to contribute to its continuous development. FreeCAD is built using programming languages such as C++ and Python. The software source code is also made public, and we do look forward to more people making progress with FreeCAD programs.